Ashley Rogers lives and breathes vintage. Her store, situated in the Rosemary District, is lined floor-to-ceiling with fashion spanning the decades as early as the 20s. She sat with us to talk about when she fell in love with vintage, and what she’s doing to keep vintage shopping a unique experience for every person stepping into her store.
How were you introduced to vintage fashion?
My grandmother had a friend named Kitty. She wore hats, had curly hair, dressed with lots of layers and textures. She gave me a green velvet hat from the early 1900’s with ostrich plumes on it. It’s over 100 years old now, and it’s still in great shape. My mother was also a big influence on me. She was a hippie 70’s girl, and she has a lot of jewelry she made back then from a silversmith class, which I still wear today.
So, what’s your personal style like?
I like mixing eras, which is kind of odd for someone who wears vintage. Usually people just stick to one era, but I can’t pick one! It’s like picking your favorite child. I love them all for different reasons. I love the 60’s because they’re colorful and flowy, fun, and really comfortable. I like the 50’s for higher-end events because the clothes are very flattering and classic. And for anything a little more crazy, I like to wear something long and vibrant!
Is your home décor vintage also?
It’s kind of funny! Each room in my house is completely different. The living room is a mix of the 60s and 70s, with a big purple L-shaped couch and a big chandelier lamp. We’ve got big crates of records in it– it’s pretty lounge-y! The bedroom is more ladylike, with lots of greens and greys. There’s a chair in my home that’s a big grandma armchair, and the fabric was a little worn so we redid it with this velvet chartreuse fabric.
How did Canned Ham Vintage get its start?
We started out of a little trailer, the Shasta we keep in the yard. I knew I wanted to start with that, because it’s got the iconic canned ham shape. It took us a year and a half before we found the one we have now: it’s perfectly intact, with the kitchen, the bathroom, and an icebox.
Do you still use the Shasta trailer?
We still use it for traveling shows! It looks like a little boutique on the inside. We accent everything with orange because it’s my favorite color, and kept everything else white to keep the focus on the clothes. We set up outside of the trailer as well as inside, depending on the size of the show and how much space we have.
What’s one item in Canned Ham that’s special to you, that’s near and dear to your heart?
Wedding dresses really get me. Wedding dresses make me cry. I guess it’s different if you work in a boutique because you see them all the time, but I’ve only sold a handful. With a boutique you just pick one off the rack and make it happen, but with a vintage dress you have to seek it out. And we only have a small amount, because they’re one-of-a-kind pieces custom made for the bride who wore it. So it means a lot when I have brides come in looking for their perfect dress.
I’d really like to see us all really define ourselves as the Rosemary District, because that’s what we are.
How do you find the pieces for your store? How far has your search for vintage taken you?
I go all over, Miami, Nashville even Philadelphia. Usually if we (my husband and I) travel on “vacation,” we bring as many empty suitcases as possible, and the smallest amount of things for ourselves! When we went to Nashville last, we brought back eight full suitcases of vintage finds. We brought back four from Philadelphia. Traveling for clothes is fun because we don’t find the same stuff anywhere. Down here we find Hawaiians and tropical stuff. In Nashville we find more Western wear like leather, boots, blue jeans.
On top of Canned Ham, you also run a monthly market don’t you?
Yep! The Rosemary Indie Market is a place where we have artists, creators, and vintage hunters who don’t have a brick-and-mortar store can come and sell their stuff. A lot of the farmers markets in Sarasota don’t allow resale, so the people who do secondhand sells can’t sell there. We wanted to do something that’s retro and vintage, with live music, and a little more funk than the farmers markets. This market gets a lot of the younger crowd, because they understand they can find things here they can’t get anywhere else, they can shop local, and they can find unique handmade things. It’s a really cool little village with music and food and vendors. It’s every third Saturday of the month!
Why did you open in the Rosemary District?
It feels like home to me. I’ve had people ask why I’m not on Main Street and it’s because it doesn’t feel like me. I’m not the hustle-and-bustle of Downtown. It’s quieter here, and I like that. I think that helps customers feel more at home too; many have come in and said that it feels like they’re walking into Grandma’s house, and they want to stay and hang out. It’s our perfect spot, right here. We’ve been in our current location for a year and a half, but we’re so attached to it, already.
What are your hopes for the future of the Rosemary District?
I hope that with all this growth, we don’t get pushed out. It’s a colorful community, with this cool ecosystem of so many different businesses and alcoves with cool things happening. I’d really like to see us all really define ourselves as the Rosemary District, because that’s what we are.