Little Viking Vintage: Interview

Little Viking Vintage for those of you unaware is a little treasure cove nestled in the heart of St Albans, full of vintage dreams. If you’re visiting the area, or indeed live in St Albans and have even a mild interest in fashion (especially vintage fashion) I suggest you check it out. I was lucky enough to interview the owner of the shop, Maria who discussed her collection, which I imagine is fashion heaven, as well as her adventures across the globe scouring for vintage fashion. Expect to come out of reading this interview feeling inspired, and wanting to go down to the pub in full on extravagant vintage attire. Because you know when you hear about someone’s life, and it feels like it’s you’re actually reading about a character’s life in a really cool novel; that’s what this interview will feel like to read.

Little Viking Vintage 2

That velvet top is calling my name… Photograph taken outside Little Viking Vintage. 

How did Little Viking Vintage start? 


It started out wanting to wear what nobody else had and creating an individual style. Back in the day when charity shops provided good hunting grounds for 1920-70 items it was easy to start a collection and I still have lots of these in my private collection. The first item I bought that is sort of the root of my passion (read evil) was a 1980s ball gown in black satin with puff skirt covered in rhinestones and I used to wear this just down to the pub with dm’s* and a biker jacket. Would love to show you a pic but unfortunately it is at my storage and out of reach. You just have to imagine full on 80’s!

Little Viking Vintage 3

Inside Little Viking Vintage.

What’s your favourite piece that you’ve ever come across?


Oh hard to choose!! It’s been so many but to narrow it down: In a Vintage boutique in New York I found this Museum quality 1930’s gown with ballerina pattern and probably paid way to much for it but it is in pristine condition and it has ballerinas, I love ballerina patterns! I am yet to wear it so for now hanging on my bedroom wall. The second item would probably be a 1920’s pongee tissue silk kimono robe that I rescued last year. I was at an appointment in London buying and this lady was just going to chuck it out as it needed a bit of tlc** so managed to grab it for just a £5! I have had it fixed and it is now hanging too on my bedroom wall. These pieces are the base for my vintage inspiration and keeps me motivated that you just never know what you are going to find next!

Ballerina dress

Photograph provided by Little Viking Vintage. 

20s kimono

Photograph provided by Little Viking Vintage. 

Do you have a favourite place in the world to look for vintage finds from?


It varies wildly, a few years ago I was going to NY a lot scouring markets and shops but lately I have started  going to the South of France as they have a different view on which vintage is desirable so manage to snap up a few bargains every time I go. As I am Swedish I also go to Stockholm a lot and if there is a local barn sale I’ll be the first one in!

What advice would you give for someone whose interested in vintage fashion and wants to start collecting?


Buy with your heart and don’t care what other people say! There are so many different eras and styles to explore! I hear a lot people saying, “but when would I wear it” when trying on in store, I say ‘Just Wear It,’ or just hang it on the wall and admire it like a piece of wearable art! Don’t spend too much money in the beginning but ‘work your way up’ until you have found where your heart lies.

Little Viking Vintage Store

I need that cardigan in my life! Photograph taken inside Little Viking Vintage. 

What’s your personal style like and how do you feel it reflects your stock?


My style changes between full on vintage to contemporary modern fashion. One day I will wear a 1930’s gown and the next a jumpsuit from Zara. I’m a firm believer in just wear what you want, anytime you want! As there are so many different styles and eras; the possibilities are endless! As my style changes so does the stock as you are automatically drawn to the stuff you like to wear and end up sourcing for the shop, at the moment it is all about Kimonos!

Little Viking Vintage 4

Inside Little Viking Vintage. 

Where are you favourite places to look for vintage finds from in the UK?


I love hunting in Norwich and Brighton as there are lots of good vintage shops and emporiums. I try not to buy too much from stores as you pay retail prices but for one off’s it’s great! I mainly buy from markets and private sellers that i have connected with over the years.

If you could only keep 3 pieces from your collection, which would you keep?


My 1930’s Embroidered Japanese Kimono that I found a few years back but only just realised it’s true beauty and rarity. My beaten up old biker jacket would be the first thing I’d throw out of the window if there was a fire! It has taken me 20 years to wear it in and it is just perfect!! Thirdly probably my 1980’s quilted Chanel Bag in Gold Leather!

Gold Chanel Bag

Photograph provided by Little Viking Vintage. 

Do you have a favourite fashion era?


I just love the elegance and style of the 1930’s but am also an old punk at heart so anything Vivian Westwood did in the 70’s!

Have you ever sold a piece and then regretted it?


Always!! But you can’t run a business without being able to let go….

What’s your favourite season?


I don’t really have one, but a sunny Autumn day like the other day when you can still wear your summer dress but layering it with a cozy knit is always nice.

Little Viking Vintage

Inside Little Viking Vintage. 

What inspirations do you draw your style/ aesthetic from?

It normally starts by me finding a new item that I wouldn’t have looked at before and seeing it’s potential in a different light and then it just takes on a life of it’s own, adding similar pieces or matching it with something I have not done before. For example my recent passion is Kimonos and i love bringing them in to a wearable garment as a dress or jacket and introducing this to customers!

Do you have any style icons?

Everyone walking down the street! I love looking at what other people wear and how they create their style.

What is about vintage fashion that has you hooked?

You just never know what you are going to find next!!!!!!!!
* Dr Martens for those who aren’t down with the lingo just yet.
** Tender Lovin’ Care (ok you could probably write it without the ‘ but I can’t help but imagine it’s Elvis saying it)
🍂April🍂

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An Interview With Kimothy Joy

Image provided by Kimothy Joy

I stumbled upon Kimothy Joy’s artwork last month after seeing the awesome illustrations she provided The Huffington Post for their campaign #WeMakeHerstory, which inspired and intrigued me so I set out to find out more, and to of course follow her on Instagram! The collaboration was also partially what inspired some of my own blog posts and collaboration with Caroline from The Kawaii Kollective, who provides me with illustrations for my feminist reading journey (in each blog post I have credited Kimothy Joy for inspiring the artwork).

For those who aren’t familiar with Kimothy Joy she is a Denver-based illustrator who specialises in watercolours and ink drawings. Her work generally centres on female empowerment, usually through painting heroines from the past, and present (like in The Huffington Post series). Her art is art of resistance, as she believes art and creativity can be a powerful force for social change. Therefore, she often partners with companies that aim to make the world a better place for everyone.

It’s unsurprising that the popular items that she sells (for UK readers she sells internationally on Etsy) carry the slogans, ‘Make America Kind Again’, ‘The United States of Nasty Women’, ‘The Future is Female’ and ‘Rise Up’.

Image: @kimothyjoy/ Instagram 

I of course was interested to find out what her favourite quote to live by was as someone who illustrates so many inspiring quotes…
“Find joy in life. Share joy with others.” It’s so simple but very meaningful to me. My mother had it printed out and taped to our fridge during her last year fighting breast cancer. She maintained an overall resolute disposition – determined to find the beauty in her battle. That lesson will also stay with me. And the irony of Joy being my middle name. I think I’ve recently really brought that sentiment into fruition in my own life. I know she’s proud.

How do you find your inspiration?
I find my inspiration from other women who have found their own voice and found the courage to speak their own truth to the world. This comes from something as casual as coffee dates or via books, music, podcasts, poets, and documentaries. Books written by Maya Angelou, Sylvia Plath, Virginia Woolf, or modern day women such as Jessica Bennett’s Feminist Fight Club or We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. Currently, I am so utterly moved by the music of Tank and the Bangas, a group from New Orleans. They’re on repeat.

What artists inspire you?
Lately, I’m really inspired by poetry. I don’t think I’m alone in this becoming something the general public is yearning for more and more in these very confusing, conflicting times. Nikita Gill’s work is stunning. So is the poetry of Cleo Wade, Nayyirah Waheed, Warsan Shire, and Rupi Kaur. Their words provide so much understanding, peace, and healing. They inspire a lot of my paintings.

Image: @kimothyjoy/ Instagram

Do you think art and creativity can drive positive social change?
Immensely! Art, music, dance, any creative expression – these are the languages used by us humans that are able to transcend barriers whether they be cultural, racial, gender, whatever. They harness so much power. In challenging times when we’re trying to work out how we feel or what is happening around the world – there is always art and creativity to help us feel heard, connected, understood. Art transcends words. It heals and unites. I have so much faith in its power and magic. It’s the language of our soul.

These words by Maria Popova of Brain Pickings are everything. Keep showing up. ❤️

A post shared by Kimothy Joy (@kimothyjoy) on

Image: @kimothyjoy/ Instagram 

What has been your favourite campaign you have worked on/ supported so far?
My favourite campaign has been the project in which I created art in celebration of Women’s History Month with The Huffington Post. The editors selected a great variety of women, some lesser known; these women peaked my interest and I was happy to get to know them better before painting them. I love that Huffpost used their platform to spread the words and stories of these women.

🔥Alicia Garza🔥 #WeMakeHerstory (🎨: @kimothyjoy) #WomensHistoryMonth

A post shared by HuffPost Women (@huffpostwomen) on

Image: @HuffPostWomen/ Instagram                                                                                                       

Have you always called yourself a feminist? Has your work always been centred around women’s rights?
I didn’t call myself a feminist in my youth and my work became rooted in feminism before I self-identified as one. Over the last few years as a creative consultant, I chose to partner with organisations that focused on women’s rights and empowerment. I was completely moved by what they were doing especially organisations like Smart Girl who work with middle school girls on building emotional intelligence, mental health awareness, confidence, anti-bullying, etc and Threads Worldwide who promote fair-trade goods and economic opportunity for women around the world. I think I was too busy trying to figure out how to advance the work they were doing that I didn’t stop and categorise myself. I didn’t think to state it publicly or draw a line in the sand. If feminism means believing in equal rights / human rights than it should be a given, right? – something that you don’t have to claim. However, I think it’s important to claim now more than ever because of the negative connotations still associated with it. We need to break down those misconceptions and make it commonplace for all humans to call themselves feminists. It’s a no brainer. It shouldn’t be taboo or divisive. We also need to collectively work to clarify its definition in being inclusive of people of color, the LGBTQI community, etc. and recognize the privilege and disadvantage that groups within the feminist movement are experiencing.

Image: @kimothyjoy/ Instagram

How did you choose the quotes for your series with Huffington Post Women for Women’s History Month?
The editors at The Huffington Post selected the women and quotes then I narrowed down a list that I wanted to paint. I liked the diverse, wide array of people they chose. Some were classic heroines of the past and others were modern day leaders of movements like Alicia Garza and Opal Tometi, co-founders of Black Lives Matter and Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood and Illyse Hogue, president of NARAL. I also love that they chose provocative, challenging quotes. Their selections sparked a lot of conversation and engagement online especially regarding intersectional feminism and resistance.

Wise words from @ilyseh 🔥 (🎨: @kimothyjoy) #WeMakeHerstory #WomensHistoryMonth

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Image: @HuffPostWomen/ Instagram                                                                                                          

✊🏽✊🏿✊🏾 @lsarsour #WeMakeHerstory (🎨: @kimothyjoy) #WomensHistoryMonth

A post shared by HuffPost Women (@huffpostwomen) on

Image: @HuffPostWomen/ Instagram      

Who is your favourite author or activist/ quote out of the women you drew?
That’s a hard one! So many gems in that mix. I think it’s a tie between the quote from Alicia Garza, co-founder of the Black Lives Matter movement, and Cheryl Strayed who said, “The best thing you can possibly do with your life is to tackle the motherfucking shit out of it.” I love that she’s telling us to get in the game, get dirty, show up, be brave, wrestle around with it. Do not shy away from finding your own truths, beliefs, opinions. Give it your all.

What charitable organisations do you support?
I support Southern Poverty Law Center, Emily’s List, Planned Parenthood, ACLU, Move On, and I think I’m missing a few more. I support these organizations by donating a portion of profits from my products to their mission.

Have you ever seen someone wear one of your designs?
I’ve seen many photos of people sporting my designs which is the best! I’ll run into people with my tote bags or wearing a t-shirt. It makes me so happy to know these messages resonate with others and they’re proud to share them with me. I’ve never felt so connected to so many (once) strangers before.

Image: @kimothyjoy/ Instagram

Your work is all about positivity, how do you stay positive in the period America is in at the moment? Have you ever received negativity about your work?
This is a real challenge for me, actually. I practice staying positive and actively seeking out things and people who inspire and uplift me. There are days when I feel so low about what’s happening. But then I have to try harder to find a poem that that brings me back to life, or a book, or a story, one act of bravery or love, then I sit down to paint. Then I share it online and find that it helps to heal others, as well. I’ve been being very diligent and intentional about it these last few months. It’s my sacred habit. I love that I can share it with other people who are craving it just as much as me. And yes, I have received some negative feedback about my work, which is expected when you share of yourself online, especially creative work, and your reach expands. The issues that I choose to paint about are usually divisive topics for our country so that invokes strong opinions one way or the other. Art itself is subjective and open to various interpretations. That’s what makes it powerful. Also, I’ve learned to listen to the criticism that starts off from an emotionally correct or respectful place.

Image: @kimothyjoy/ Instagram 

Do you think it is important that feminism remains inclusive of all women (i.e. inclusive of people who identify as non binary and trans women) as I’ve noticed those themes in your work?
Definitely. One of the mainstays of my work is to portray a diverse, all inclusive, array of people. I don’t necessarily include a lot of masculinity in my work, because it just doesn’t come natural to me, but I don’t want to exclude them from my messages, either. It is really important to me to include all ethnicities, sexualities, body types, varying body abilities, ages, trans, non-binary, queer, everyone. Feminism is about passing the mic to the most disenfranchised and marginalised. It’s about demanding human rights from the bottom up, by putting those that are the most threatened at the forefront.

Image: @kimothyjoy/ Instagram 

Image: @kimothyjoy/ Instagram 

What is next for you with your artwork? What are your plans for the future?  
I would love to publish a book of my illustrations. I’d like to partner up with organisations I support and different campaigns to promote positive social change. Whatever I can do to leverage the power of visuals to change minds, perspectives and unite and connect.

Image: @kimothyjoy/ Instagram