You may know Regina Hills as the owner of General Goods Vintage -a gorgeous showroom selling unique home goods- but she didn't always sell things like furniture pieces and decor. In fact, she didn't start her business with a storefront either. Proving that passion makes things possible, she encourages others to take a chance on themselves.
REGINA: Originally I started with clothes and I had a different name. It just wasn't going well. People weren't wanting to pay for used clothing items. I was selling home goods a lot quicker and making a lot more on it. I was doing small stuff at first because I was strictly on markets and pop-ups. When I started the business I was actually practicing less waste that year. That was my New Year's Resolution so I was kind of stuck. I couldn't do some new thing like, I don't know, it would have had to have been something eco-friendly. My husband sells used cars, so it just made sense to sell used furniture. I ended up doing bigger pieces because I was making more and that stuck. I was doing the smaller stuff out of a boutique for a while. Then I was selling stuff out of my garage more frequently than I was at Red Crow or the boutique, because I had big pieces that wouldn't fit in those spaces. Whenever I decided to get my own spot it was basically just moving that stuff from my garage into the showroom. It's right near my house, the location is really good, and my lease was up at the boutique so it was time to move on. I found it in March then everything got crazy hectic with corona.
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Thrilled to announce that General Goods Vintage Showroom will be open in the next few weeks! I could not have done this without my husband, family, & friends. Big thanks especially to @tmwildflowers for helping my grow my business from the ground up & @chelsmarieboutique for letting me be apart of her space. I am truly thankful. If it wasn’t for Chelsea I don’t know if I would have had the confidence to do this. Big shout out to my customers & the people who have supported me on this journey. I’m proud to bring something I’ve always loved about bigger cities to mine. Inspired by so many women that have been at this for years that I’ve looked up to for a long time. Cheers to new beginnings & to growth. Two years of solid hard work. Started with one $100 bill & some big dreams. They are finally happening! We will announce more info as soon as we are set up. We will exclusively be by appointment only & have selected weekends open to browse and pick your prepaid orders! 🥂 🎉🔑🏠 #blessed #generalgoodsvintage #BIGGGV
Before, it was just pop-ups?
Yeah. I did that first at Wildflowers, Red Crow, and then Chelsea asked me to be a part of her boutique which was downtown. I was there for I think 8 months. I had a room in there but I was still selling from Red Crow and my garage. When I got into Chelsea's I stopped keeping up with Red Crow. Then whenever my lease was ending I just decided to go and rent my own location. I had so much inventory I couldn't scale backwards. I had gained a lot of following and it was too big. You kind of just have to go with it and let it grow beyond your control. It's a little bit scary as a control freak but I'm just trying to let it evolve on it's own. It's hard to find a balance but I'm learning.
There's an event this weekend at Akasha and in that strip, a lot of those people are pop-ups only. I always tell them that's how I started. You could totally scale from just pop-ups and I'm proof of that. A lot of people think that they can't take it to the next level but you really can. The internet is such a game changer. You can create a following on the internet fairly easily, no matter where you're from as long as you have the internet connection. All of my photos are from iPhones and my iPhone is so cracked up it's embarrassing. But my camera still works fine. Sometimes pop-ups will have photographers that'll get photography on some of my pieces and I can't even post them on my feed because they like look so good! They're all highly edited and professional like, "Y'all are making me look bad!" Haha. That pop-up is gonna be amazing. I'm super excited.
Who has helped you?
I think my biggest supporter in the beginning was definitely Terrie at Wildflowers just because she would do markets for, at first it was like fifteen or something, and she provided a table and tent once a month. From there I did some pop-ups at Chelsea's place, then she asked me to come to her location. A good friend of mine, Jennifer, she owned Threads for about 10 years and sold it so whenever I started my thing she was helping me buy my inventory because I couldn't. I didn't have all the money upfront because I never took out loans or anything to start. I just used the money I made to keep it self-sustaining. As the pieces sold I would pay her back with the profit that we made so that was definitely a huge help. I think it was just having a lot of guidance from somebody that's been running a business for 10 years. As a female in town you kind of just have to know the market like that.
Who all has inspired you?
Designers that I look up to like Justina Blakeney, Kelly Wearstler, and Jonathan Adler. I've always looked up to big designers that have blown it out like that. I mean, I would just love to have a line at Target. I think that's always the goal. To style pieces that are new and grow the brand. I started everything on Canva apps and stuff that's really cheap. I started my business with 100 dollars so I never in a million years thought it would be like what it is right now. When I first started it was something to do to fill my time so I'm very happy with the result. I just let it happen organically and stayed true to my style. There's some other interior designers here too that have really inspired me, like my friend Korri Anderson. She's an interior decorator and does everything with builders and stuff like that. She works with all the materials which I think is so cool because flooring and tiles are a part of it, it's just a whole other side of it. It's cool to have somebody like that that I can work with, bounce ideas off of. Her home was just in The Bend Mag. She had came and bought stuff from the shop, put it all in her house, and it looked amazing. She also works for estate sales. That's how we met.
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After searching for the right home – one with an older design and in an older neighborhood – Korri Anderson discovered her parents were looking to downsize, which meant her childhood home was up for grabs. Although it would be a fixer-upper, Korri and her husband were excited for the extra space, and knew purchasing this home was the right move. ✨ With a blend of patterns, prints, color combinations, and vintage items, Korri brings her interior design talents (@kadesignscc) into her own personal living space and the result is one magnificent abode. Head to the link in our bio to see more! (Written by: @jacqueline.jisele Photos by: @jasondavidpage) . . . . . . . #corpus #corpuschristi #corpuschristitexas #corpuschristitx #southtexas #coastalbend #coastalliving #thebend #thebendmag #thebendmagazine #lifestylemagazine #editorial #supportlocal #vivacc #locallove #homedecor #vintage #vintagehomedecor #interiordesign #openhouse #hometour
It's been so fun meeting all these people and making friends with people that do similar things. I got really close with Jennifer because she was my partner. She opened Sol Boutique and is not at the shop anymore so I'm on my own. It's kind of scary being on my own. I definitely feel like an amateurish business owner. I don't have that boss vibe. I'm like, "You can play whatever you want, you can wear whatever you want. Just be on time, be nice to the customers, and sell stuff."
What's been your favorite part?
Definitely buying. I love to go out there and find. That's been the most fun. Finding the treasure in all the junk we have to sift through. I like that other people appreciate it too. When I see it in somebody's home and they send me the way they styled it it's like, "Well I would never put that there," or, "Well that's exactly how I would do it!" I think that's neat too. Finding pieces that I've been looking for a long time or selling rare things to other people that have been looking for them. Somebody just bought a Letterman painting from me. I have one in my house that's a heirloom from a few generations that we've had in our family and everybody tries to buy it when they come to our house. I found this other Letterman and the guy that bought it sent me a picture of his entire collection. He had the one that I had, but didn't have the one that I was selling, so it was really cool.
What's something you wish you would have learned at the beginning?
Not to take everything so personally. I think a lot of times like when I was starting, when people would do what I was doing, it would like kind of feel like they were mimicking or copying me and I would get really defensive. In retrospect, I could have handled it better. It's weird when you do something original on your own. I'm from here, I lived here my whole life, and I always wanted stuff like this in Corpus. I would go to Austin or San Antonio to go to a store like mine, but I loved Corpus so much that I refused to leave. I felt like it was my duty to bring those things here because I felt like nobody else was gonna do it. Then all these other people... I don't know, maybe you just notice it more because you're in it. And that's okay. There's more than enough room for everybody, the market's big. I think a lot of it was just personal. I felt like so-and-so felt ways about me. It's weird. There's so many different personalities around town -you just have to just stay true to you. I do what I like regardless.
What would you say the biggest challenge is that you've faced so far?
Taxes and math! The business side for sure. As a creative and somebody that just wants to style and shop for a living, having to do the number side has been really hard. Thankfully my husband is amazing at that. I'm glad I married somebody that is savvy with it.
What do you think makes a business good?
Staying true, being loyal to your customer, being loyal to your cause. I'm very into sustainability and I really like to support local. I try and keep it pretty cohesive. When I focus on something I want it to be the best. I feel like a lot of people have a lot of great ideas, they work on all of them, then all of them are mediocre. People don't know how to focus. I get very focused, create structure around one thing, and put effort into that. Everything is on Instagram. A lot of my older customers are like, "You need to get on Facebook!" But this is what's working for me. I appreciate them wanting that but I need to focus on what works then eliminate things that don't. That's where I thrive. I'm able to adapt to things quickly, like coronavirus. I was never intending on selling new items but I couldn't go to estate sales, couldn't go to thrift stores, so I was stuck having to buy wholesale items. It did really well so I'm continuing to do that even though that was never in the plan.
Or like hiring an employee. I was so busy that I didn't have a day off. I was like, Monday through Friday: school. Saturday/Sunday: work. I needed the help so I hired an employee. You have to continue to change with the sales. I think that's what makes business work. If you're stuck not changing, when things do change, you're not gonna do well because you're stuck doing things the old way.
People can get really frustrated. As a business owner I get frustrated, I cry, but I'm not gonna get on a live and take it out on my customers or write some crazy passive-aggressive stuff. I have to handle it on my own and then just figure it out. I'm a solutions person. I don't like to sulk. I'm like, "What can I do to fix this issue that I'm having?" I think that's what's kept my business afloat. That and always being online. I never needed a physical location, it's just having one is helpful for my customers and getting it out of my house. I've always been on Instagram and sold that way. I think that doing it the opposite way -instead of having a storefront and then trying to go online- when things have gone bad like this has definitely been like a saving grace. I don't worry about things like coronavirus because my customer was already buying from invoices, emails, and a feed.
Have you ever wanted to give up what you're doing?
At times, definitely. Like right now. You know, I started doing this because my kids were out at school and now that I'm back being at home with them all the time, although it's temporary, the uncertainty has made me feel like maybe I should sell it. Jennifer had sold her business recently so I have some insight on those type of options, but as of now I feel like way too attached. It's like my third baby and I'm just not there yet. I feel like I need to get to a level of being burnt out on it. Right now I'm shifting gears back into being at home with my kids full time. It's a very hard adjustment because I felt like I was finally getting out of that scenario where I was getting me back and my business going. Those thoughts have crossed my mind but I haven't pursued anything to that extent, because I still feel pretty passionate about it. I still want to see it grow. Once it's grown where I feel overwhelmed, I may want to sell it.
What would you tell someone who's thinking about starting a business?
Listen to people that have done it. Don't listen to people that don't know what they're talking about because they all have opinions and their opinions aren't relevant if they aren't people that are actually getting dirty, up to their knees in the mud doing it. Those that own the businesses and run the show? They know. I think that you need to humble yourself and listen to those people.
I've learned a lot a lot from people that actually have had businesses. Two of the people sold clothing. One owned a shop in Austin called Laced with Romance, another friend owned a store called Montage in San Antonio. That's why I really wanted to do vintage clothes because those were two people that were very influential for me that owned stores that I'd like to own. When I started they were 10 years in. Then of course, Jennifer who owned Threads -she did it here.
You definitely don't have to like take all the advice because it'll get overwhelming, but if you need help, ask. That's a big thing too, admitting you don't know everything. It's okay to be new.
Also, I don't feel like you have to be catty and bossy. It's just not the vibe for me. I don't have to mimic a man to be a boss. I can still be feminine and soft. I had in my head for so long that I needed to like buck up and be hard -that's never gonna be me. I see why women are successful doing that but as a stylist or interior designer, I'm not in a male dominated field. If you're in a male dominated field you definitely have to have thicker skin.
Where would you like to be in the future?
I want to have a big furniture store that also has new stuff. Some of the stores I really look up to are like 6th And Detroit. She has multiple storefronts in the West Coast, she sources all throughout the country, and she gets these huge shipments. I think I could really scale it to that level if I wanted to. I don't know how much I'm gonna be in it in 10 years. I just play it day by day. I think doing that until it doesn't feel authentic is the key. I think the people that are authentic -it shines through the body of work they have over a lifetime. I would love to go big with it if I could but I definitely don't plan on leaving Corpus.
You don't have to leave the place you love to like be recognized as talented.
I think that a lot of local musicians from here have proven that.
What is success to you?
Doing things on your own terms, that's the epitome of success. Just doing you, being able to plan your day, and not feeling stuck doing things that you don't want to do. I like my days to feel like they're mine and not like I'm putting in time for somebody or something else. It has to have meaning if I'm gonna spend my time doing it. It needs to back up what I'm making my life to be.
What are your dreams?
My goal has always been to end up on Ocean Drive. To me, that's obtainable here. That's always been one of my big lifetime goals. I grew up in Corpus. Other cities seemed intimidating because it's like, "Whoa, how do you make it to the top?" Here I can have an Ocean Drive estate and it doesn't feel unrealistic. Then to have a happy, healthy life and be a wholesome individual. I feel like making money doing something that I love is a part of that. My husband and I are very like similar so when we put our minds together to do something, we're gonna do it. We can accomplish it way sooner than I could on my own. I'm very spiritual and that helps too. Having guidance and knowing who I am, feeling what's right and wrong on a spiritual level is super important. I honestly believe that's a huge reason why I'm successful. I know the difference between an internal dialogue and God. I just go with that and don't question it. I'm like, "This is the confirmation I needed or the sign appearing before me." I'm just gonna keep taking the steps.
Before ending our chat, we spoke a bit about the vibe she'd like to see in Corpus Christi. Regina believes that youth maintaining businesses will work towards modernizing our city. She supports this idea so much that she houses products from creators like @ArtsyWire, @the.brujita, and @PhatKnits, in her own store. Similarly, her store plays music from local artists in a playlist you can follow on Spotify here.