After several years of setting up pop-up vintage shops in Vancouver galleries or temporary retail spaces, Lyndsey Chow and her best friend and business partner Lauren Clark are celebrating over a year at their permanent location in Gastown. Their labour of love Hey Jude is making a statement with hand-picked vintage clothing and an eco-fashion philosophy, which encourages shoppers to rethink their fashion footprint. Lyndsey’s love for vintage is apparent in her own closet as well as in the timeless collection handpicked on buying trips and repurposed into ready to wear, high-quality second-life garments. Dressed today in vintage Calvin Klein denim paired with a vintage silk turtleneck and a vintage cashmere tank layered over top, Lyndsey affirms that starting a business isn’t easy, but with a vision and a business partner that “gets her” at her side, she’s found the moments of doubt and pure exhaustion outweighed by satisfaction – which is always fashionable. Keeping fit and taking time for inner peace – accompanied by her homemade Aeropress coffee topped with steamed coconut milk – are tools that Lyndsey uses to support her in the big picture, as Hey Jude strains the seams of the retail fashion market.

Film photography is a creative outlet

Hobbies like this keep me fulfilled and allow me to be the best version of myself in life and at work.

My business partner, Lauren

We are an energetic dynamic duo that I am so grateful for. I feel rewarded knowing all that we have accomplished together and excited thinking about the opportunity ahead of us.

Travel. Across the world or an hour away

I get so inspired by new places and experiences.

Spiritual Community

Turning inwards and connecting to my true self is a personal journey, but finding the support and guidance through teachers and a group practice has been fundamental.

I workout in the morning

When I work hard and sweat first thing, I feel motivated and ready to take on the day.

Listen to the wisdom of others

Whether it’s a mentor who has many more years of experience or another entrepreneur who is at a similar place in their career, I love hearing their journey and gaining a greater perspective from the knowledge they have to offer.

I feel a divine connection to the ocean

My mind is at peace and it humbles me when I stand next to its vastness.

Let go of expectations

Learning to love and embrace the process as it unfolds in front of me is a beautiful thing.

I love to create in the kitchen. I feel so empowered when I am nourishing my body and making healthy meals for myself.

It’s an activity that can be meditative on my own or a way to connect with loved ones when you cook together or share a meal.

"Your boundaries are your quest. We need shadow and light sources both. Lay your head under the tree of Awe"

This quote really resonates with me and is a reminder to expand and explore.

Tell me about Hey Jude. What can a shopper expect to find in your store?

Primarily we sell curated vintage; we find vintage and sort it ourselves, and we alter a lot of pieces to make them feel more contemporary. We focus on silk, linen, leather, cashmere, wool…all those really high-quality fabrics that you can pay an arm and a leg for if it’s brand new. Here you can feel like you’re shopping new and getting good quality, but you’re doing good for the environment by recycling. All the new brands we have are Vancouver-based – we want to focus as much as possible on supporting the local entrepreneurial community – or from the west coast: Seattle, Portland, LA. And then we also have antiques and ceramics that we find on our buying trips.

What’s your draw to vintage?

It’s just such a form of creative expression. You can have these beautiful, unique pieces that no one else will have. Style is a great way to express yourself and I really love doing that with what I wear every day; I also love the fact that wearing vintage is recycling and reusing clothes that have been previously loved.

How often do you source new stock? And do you have a certain person in mind that you’re shopping for?

We buy weekly locally and then we go on buying trips to Seattle and LA about four to six times a year.

Ideally the woman who is coming to shop here has a very timeless aesthetic, but is perhaps up on what’s going on in recent trends. I think some pieces we sort of imagine the type of girl that would come and buy that, but we’re pretty open. I love helping people find pieces because a lot of people still don’t feel comfortable shopping vintage. Women don’t always necessarily know how to try it on, style it or wear it properly so that can be really fun for us to help people try it on and let them see that vintage can look beautiful and modern and make them feel good.

Over the last few years it seems increasingly difficult to find great vintage. Do you find that when you’re sourcing stock?

I think it’s harder to find it, but for us we are also very picky with what we do bring in. We definitely have our days where we don’t find as many amazing pieces as we think we could. It has to be the right style, it has to be incredible fabric, it has to be in great condition, and we have to both love it. That said, we definitely don’t struggle finding what we need; we always have great inventory and great selection and it’s really worked out for us.

Where did the name Hey Jude come from?

It came from one of our mind-mapping nights back in the day. We loved going to concerts together and loved the idea of our shop one day having a song name, so we wrote down a bunch of song titles that we really liked and just kind of put it aside as part of our long-term goal. When we finally decided to do a pop-up in Lauren’s apartment, we went back to that list and Hey Jude just stood out.

I understand your business partner (Lauren Clark) has a background in fashion merchandising and you come from the marketing realm. How do you share the business responsibilities and what does your role look like?

It’s interesting, although we come from different backgrounds, we actually do a lot of the work together and that’s something we’re actually working on right now: streamlining it a bit more. We do all of our goal setting and planning together but I work a little more on the marketing and branding strategy guidelines and even our budgeting and administrative work. Lauren does more of the design side of the branding and any type of promotional stuff.

We both wanted to know all sides of the business and so for us that meant doing the majority of work together. I think now that we’re both comfortable with it all, now is that time we can separate and have more distinct roles.

That’s pretty incredible that you can share all aspects of business with Lauren and still maintain a strong friendship - how did you two meet?

We met at a bartending job many years ago and we became best friends.We just had such an awesome chemistry and we got along really well. We started as friends, and we’re still great friends, but our relationship has definitely evolved – once you have a business together, it’s like having a child.

How do you maintain a healthy working relationship?

It’s like any relationship; you have to work really hard at it. We’ve had to learn that we communicate differently and work differently. It’s been challenging at times, but it’s also really rewarding that we can get through those peaks and valleys and come out stronger in the end.

Tell me about the early days. How did your business idea come about?

It started with a trip to New York; we saw pop-up shops happening there and it wasn’t happening in Vancouver, and that sort of got the ball rolling. Lauren and I would always go vintage shopping and find these incredible pieces; our girlfriends would see us wearing them and they wanted to wear vintage too but didn’t necessarily know how to navigate markets or thrift stores, which can be a bit daunting.

How did you know you were ready to officially open a full time brick-and-mortar store?

After around five years we’ve narrowed down the products we want to sell, focussed our branding and gained a following in Vancouver. We felt confident in opening a shop and I think we wouldn’t have done it any other way.

It’s awesome that we’re now able to look back on 2016 and make more strategic goals for 2017. The first year was overwhelming; we did it and we got by, but we didn’t necessarily evolve the brand as much as we could. So this year, we’re really focusing on what our goals are.

Can you tell me how things shifted when you set up in Gastown permanently?

With a pop-up, you get this rush of people for it and it’s a really great way to see the neighbourhood and see who’s interested and test different products. Having a permanent location is obviously more about creating a longer-term strategy, so that’s definitely a really big shift that we’ve seen – long-term maintenance, rather than short-term bursts. Up until about a month or two ago we actually both worked a second job just to get through that first year; we were working crazy hours.

Were there moments when you worried about what you were doing and how you’d make it work?

There were definitely tough moments of no sleep and complete exhaustion and just feeling a bit overwhelmed. I think the biggest thing for me was believing it was going to work. It’s having that ‘I am’ mentality where you make it work and there’s not really another option. I never thought “oh shoot this is tough, maybe we shouldn’t do this anymore.” I’m so passionate about the work that it’s exciting, even with the moments of doubt. I think in order to really push your boundaries and let your ambition shine you need to take on something bigger than your current circumstance.

Do you have any tips for people who have to work extensive hours, at least for the short term?

Even when I was working two jobs I’d always work out first thing in the morning at 7 a.m. or do a yoga class. Yoga is obviously mediation, but I find working out meditative as well. It’s a way to shut off, work hard and sweat, and then come to the shop fully prepared. I think I just realized that it had to be out of the way early in the morning to make me more available throughout the rest of the day. Block off an hour or two in your calendar to commit yourself to doing whatever it is that works for you. I think it’s been really great having a business partner too, because we’re both very sensitive to what we need so I can be honest with Lauren and say, “I’m just having a really tough day. Can I go for coffee or go for a walk or go home early?”

I think balance can be hard when you’re an entrepreneur because you’re always sort of turned on, and you always have to be available if something comes up, but it’s important to fit something in, whether it’s yoga in the morning or leaving early to have dinner with family.

When you look back at your original vision and where you are today, what has been the greatest learning curve?

Our biggest learning curve was when we went through the process of signing the lease for the permanent location. There was a two-month period where we were negotiating the lease and sort of getting all of our ducks in a row. It involved rewriting our entire business plan and securing financial backing as well as negotiating a contract. It was a really challenging experience but thankfully our landlords are amazing and so it wasn’t too brutal; they were very accommodating and they were willing to help us.

Banks can be reluctant to give start-ups money. Do you have any recommendations for someone looking for capital to start a business?

Not really; we had kind of a bad experience with the bank. For a two-month period we were in this weird vortex of trying to sign the contract, but for the first page to be signed, you need to do X, Y & Z and for those tasks to get done, you need to have completed another ten things. In order to move on with our contract we had to secure the bank loan; they required a whole list of things before they even considered you, which is time consuming. It took too long, and I ended up taking out a personal line of credit as our financial backing because it was a simpler process, and then we supplemented that with a very small loan. We still have our application tucked away and we talked about revisiting that in a year or so if we’re looking at expanding our business further.

Originally were you one of the few higher-end vintage style shops in Vancouver?

To be honest, I think we were and still are. I mean there are lots of people who sell vintage in Vancouver, but I think we’re still the only shop in the city that does a very curated collection. Our style and palette and the offerings we have in the shop are especially unique in the city.

What has been your best find?

Many years ago, there was this incredible cream silk kimono with embroidered sleeves that we’ll always remember as one of our favourites.

What are you drawn to in shop right now?

There is this really incredible virgin wool coat; it’s an ashy brown colour, it’s got long lapels, and is sort of cocoon shaped. It’s amazing and the right person will come and find it and take it home.

What is the lesson on buying vintage?

We want to educate people on why vintage is so important and why recycling is so important, in that it sort of combats the entire fast fashion industry. That is a really sad piece – that people are going to malls and buying cheap pieces that they wear once or twice before throwing them out and adding to our landfills. I think taking small steps helps counteract the big environmental issues that are happening around the world.

Manufacturers in Canada are disappearing, making it harder for artists to produce their work locally – what’s your take on that?

The people that are manufacturing or making clothes in Vancouver charge at a higher price point, which I think is great because you’re paying for a higher-quality product that was made in Vancouver. It’s worth it to know that it was made ethically, but I think the challenge is that not everyone has necessarily caught onto that, or there isn’t always that conversation around why this price might be a bit more for pieces made locally.

What would you like to see change in the industry?

I would love to see people more interested in where their clothes are coming from. I think that comes down to education, and I do think people are already learning a bit more. It shouldn’t only be what are you wearing, but where did it come from? And how can you lessen your footprint?

What is it that draws you to fashion and why is it an important part of your life?

It’s funny, I never really viewed myself as person super interested in fashion growing up. It’s one of my passions but I think for me it ties back to going inside and being in touch with my true self and that’s a recycling thing. I want my whole life to be conscious and so fashion is a part of that, recycling is a part of that and what I eat is a part of that. These are all sort of self-expressions for me that help me just live a conscious life. I love how fashion can be a creative expression while also being a smart decision I make every day.

What does the future hold for Hey Jude?

We have thought about a second location but that wouldn’t be for a few years. We’d love to test out other marketplaces though, so maybe doing pop-ups in Toronto or Seattle to see if we can grow geographically will be next.