Meet Beth Chappell, the founder of The Pansy Garden, a vintage emporium full of prairie perfection; with pieces so unique you’ll cherish them for a lifetime. As the antithesis to fast-fashion, we spoke to Beth on all things sustainable sourcing, curated collections and why the future of fashion can be found in the legacy of wardrobes gone by.
Words by Kate Haines
Pansy was born in 2019, with the clear aim of fulfilling vintage dreams, by curating beautiful vintage, with love. When I was around 16, my passion for vintage started. I began by hunting around charity shops and boot sales almost everyday and finding beautiful vintage pieces that I believed would work in a modern wardrobe. Today, my ethos is still pretty much the same, I really try to find beautiful vintage that slides seamlessly into everyday wardrobes, and pieces I know will be loved, cherished and worn for many years to come.
I’m often asked, ‘how do you get so many beautiful dresses?’ and of course, that’s a secret! But I’ve been sourcing for a very long time, which has been crucial to Pansy. Curating collections in such a way makes it much harder to source, but I’m very lucky to have good friends in the industry. I believe the most sustainable way of sourcing is saving something that would have been discarded, so I’m very lucky that I get access to stock directly which -believe it or not – would have been otherwise thrown away. When I’m buying, I don’t only buy for Pansy, I source for other sellers too, as this way nothing is wasted unless it’s really damaged, and even then, I make sure it’s recycled.
I also absolutely adore buying vintage pieces from their original owners, or families of them. There’s nothing quite like acquiring a collection which has clearly been cherished, and then re-homing it. Not too long ago I visited a woman who kept all of her mother’s clothes in a case in the loft, untouched for over 30 years. When I brought those clothes home with me in the original case, I felt like I was carrying this very stylish woman’s legacy on, which was the best feeling.
Currently, I do almost everything myself; repairs, cleaning, and the list goes on! The only thing I outsource is my photographer! If I ever did outsource for anything else, I’d always aim to choose local. I’m from a working class area in the heart of Newcastle where industry struggles. I’m a firm believer in supporting small, and if I ever have the opportunity to do so with Pansy, this is the way I’ll outsource.
Everybody needs a good dress, or two. Although Pansy is quite trend led, the dresses I stock are timeless. I like to choose pieces that I know can’t be found on the high street, and will be treasured forever. The best thing about vintage is there are no two dresses the same, and that’s what makes it so special.
In my opinion, a really good staple vintage dress needs to tick these three boxes:
To me, community is all about celebrating each other, our style and our passion. I have virtually met so many amazing people through Pansy, who started as brilliant customers and have turned into friends. From Hong Kong to New York, the Pansy community has grown worldwide. We all have one thing in common, and that is how we all love really good vintage. As vintage lovers, we are a pioneering community who introduce more people to shopping and wearing vintage. I believe this sense of community is what convinces others to follow in pursuit.
It’s my aim to keep growing Pansy, and keep encouraging people to choose vintage, because I am a firm believer that second-hand and vintage shopping is the most sustainable. Until recently, there has been stigma around that, and it’s my aim to really be a wave-maker in the change by continuing to source dresses that will convince people to choose vintage. There are so many high street shops and brands now selling prairie and vintage-inspired pieces, but in my opinion, the original will always be the best. Currently, I plan on continuing to do what I love the most, which is sourcing, curating and selling beautiful vintage.