Starting Southern Trash and doing your own thing: A chat with Milly Baine

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Editor’s note:
Hey, this is the first post highlighting an independently own business on Rose Tint, something I’m extremely excited and passionate about. While it’s local to me (based in Alabama) Southern Trash has ways to buy online, making it local to anyone. Slow fashion (as opposed to sweatshop produced fast fashion) exists to counteract our growing waste as a world. Milly has built a business created on the slow fashion concept and I can’t wait for you to hear about it. Enjoy!

Milly started Southern Trash when she was a little girl.

Not the actual store, but the idea, even if she didn’t know it.

“My grandmother was super into thrifting and we would go to thrift stores all the time,” Milly Baine, the owner and founder of Florence, Alabama’s newest vintage store, Southern Trash, told me on a hot August afternoon.

While staying with her grandparents for a month in the summer, Milly’s grandma passed on the ways of picking to Milly, aka teaching her how to dig in racks, learn the sales days, make connections and more importantly viewing the second-hand pastime as a way to dress for herself.

“My grandmother never dressed for anyone else, she always dressed pretty eccentrically and not in a loud or obnoxious way, but it was different from what other people wore.”

Southern Trash (3 of 12)

Fast Forward

In 2015, Milly’s love for vintage clothes and thrifted finds hit a new level.

“It started as just old things that I had put back, things that I didn’t wear and then as I started to get more into it, I started to run out of things to sell that were mine and I started picking. I read that book #GirlBoss by Sophia Amoruso, and that was it for me. I was like that’s it, that’s my calling.”

Southern Trash (12 of 12)

With a closet overflowing with her digs, she decided to start selling them on Instagram.

March 2015 marked her first post. The buys came rolling in and Southern Trash was born.

With invoices from Paypal becoming too flaky, Milly took matters into her own hands, making a website for her vintage merch and solidifying her growing side gig.

Getting physical

“It was all kind of fate,” Milly said. “I had my pop-up shop at Court Street Market, and I did that for a weekend right before Christmas. I told myself, ‘I’ll see how that goes and hopefully it will go well, if it does, cool, if it doesn’t, whatever.’ I had just graduated in December and I wasn’t sure if I was going to get a ‘real job’ or do this. And I thought, ‘I’m probably going to have to get a ‘real job’ because money.’ Then the pop-up shop went really really well. So I thought, maybe I should do the thing.”

Doing the thing then meant finding a permanent space. And Milly had her eyes on a specific area of town. If Downtown Florence is the town’s Manhattan, then 7 Points is Florence’s Brooklyn.

“I came down [to 7 Points] and went to Blank Coffee Shop and asked, ‘Hey do you know of any buildings [for rent]? I’m thinking of opening a shop.” They told me ‘Oh, good luck, a lot of people just use these buildings for trash.’

“Great, oh well,” she remembered saying.

That was until she walked by 1134 N Wood Ave, an empty storefront with an older man walking around inside.

Southern Trash (11 of 12)

“So I knock on the door, and I asked him if he rented out his front space, and he said, ‘Well, yea, what you want to rent it for?’”

She told him Southern Trash, a vintage clothing store.

His reply:

“I think that’s something we could do, that sounds good,” Milly recalled.

Within a week, she had her store.

Advice for taking risks

For someone in their 20’s, taking a risk to do something you love can feel like jumping off a cliff into an alligator breeding ground. Something to watch a movie about, but to never do yourself, but Milly proves that when you have a good idea, a market need and a helluva lot of passion and motivation, you can create your dream job and get over 11,000 Instagram followers for your business in two years.

“I actually think it would be scarier [to start a business] if I was older,” she told me.

“People are always like, ‘You’re only 24 and you have a business,’ and I’m like, ‘Yea I really don’t have that much to lose.’ I’ve invested so much of my time into Southern Trash, but I do believe in it, and I do work hard at it, but if it did fail then I would still be ok. I wouldn’t be risking food for my kids because I could get a part-time job to pay my mortgage and feed my dogs. There’s less to risk being younger.”

Southern Trash (1 of 12)

Her parting words to me were this, and they still ring in my mind every time I feel like I’m going to fail if I walk the road less traveled:

“Just go for it, it’s not easy, it’s a lot of work, and sometimes I go really hungry…it’s hard sometimes, but it’s worth it. You’re not answering to anyone else, and when you do well, you get to keep it all, and you do really well. You just save and budget and go for it.

What’s to lose?”

Follow Milly and Southern Trash on Instagram or visit her shop online.

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