Fluffy fake clouds and upside down roses hang in the window of the hot new vintage store Made in Heaven. Located on Spring Street, the shop is owned by downtown resident Natalie Sanchez who aims to make sustainable fashion affordable with one-of-a-kind upcycled vintage pieces.
“Everything is realistically $50 and under,” Sanchez said. “Why would we make sustainability unaffordable? It just wouldn’t make sense.”
As a vintage seller, she said she’s fighting against fast fashion, which is inexpensive clothing produced rapidly by mass-market retailers.
“We have these huge corporate companies that sell clothes where you wear the item once and then you have to throw it away, from Shein, Urban Outfitters, Forever 21, I could go on. It’s just a waste of money. It’s a waste of resources. It takes over 200 years for clothing to decompose in a landfill. That releases toxic chemicals and dyes, and it’s just a whole cycle,” she said.
She first opened the store as Shop Thrifted in November and celebrated a rebrand this June with a fresh logo of a cherub resting on clouds. Made in Heaven is also the name of her original brand because she reworks much of the clothing in the store.
For one collection, Sanchez sewed together Adidas tracksuits and soccer jerseys with frilly, lacy skirts, creating unique, androgynous pieces that align with current trends — without supporting fast fashion.
“That’s also the fun part about being able to make clothes, giving items new life,” she said. “What’s different about my shop is if it’s a Made in Heaven piece, no one else will ever have that. It’s one-of-a-kind.”
Sanchez, who is originally from Chicago and lived in Charleston for much of her youth, said her long-time interest in fashion only grew when she moved to Brooklyn and discovered the world of reselling and up-cycling vintage clothing.
“It was just very eye-opening for me living in New York City. There’s millions of vintage shops. I thought to myself, how can I take this back to Charleston? During Covid, I moved back here, and at first, I spent a lot of time just sitting on my couch embroidering.
“I ended up getting a sewing machine, and I started sewing clothes for myself. People kept asking me, where is that from? I realized I could make a business out of this.”
Sanchez started her business in 2020 by participating in pop-up markets around town under her old brand, Shop Thrifted. Though Charleston has many pop-up opportunities to shop vintage, there are not many permanent vintage shops on the peninsula. Some regular pop-up markets include Almighty Lifestyles monthly trade-and-trend at LO-Fi Brewing, Holy City Vintage Market at The Royal American and 84Flea, among others.
Many shops that have opened in recent years have been pushed out by corporate interests, Sanchez said.
“Right now, there’s only two besides mine, and they are primarily for men,” Sanchez said.
Six months into her venture, Sanchez said every cent made is going back into the business. But so far, the store is doing great in sales because it’s a permanent location consistently offering curated vintage pieces. Sanchez said she is also excited about offering spots in her shop to other creators.
“We’re definitely trying to support other small businesses. We have other people’s clothing in our shop. We have homemade candles, bracelets, phone charms, whatever it might be. We’re just constantly trying to support other local people.”
Sanchez said she couldn’t have made the leap into business ownership without the support of her friends and family.
“I would not be where I’m at right now without them. I love what I do, and that’s so rare.”
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