Dear readers, today I have the pleasure of bringing to you Jay Davani, the Owner of Providence’s new vintage boutique, M I N T.
We met Jay via Instagram and instantly we became obsessed with her style and her photography, we then met in real life at Providence Style Week and became obsessed with her rad personality.
I asked Jay some really personal questions about her journey and being a businesswoman. Her perspective on business, life, and her incredible journey truly is inspiring. Providence is lucky to have her!
Without further adieu, Jay Davani.
age: early 30’s.
are you from Providence?
“I’ve lived in RI for 10 years and most of that was in Edgewood. I just moved to the West Side a few months ago! And I’m totally in love. I wish I would have moved here sooner!”
where are you from?
“Born in Tehran, Iran and raised in Kentucky”
how would you say your upbringing has shaped you as a business owner?
“My parents instilled in me a great drive; to never give up. I don’t even know how. I don’t give up on people or work. This is my greatest strength but it also my greatest weakness. It allows me to take great risks but also exposes me to vulnerabilities. My parents overcame great tragedy of war + loss to bring me to a country where I could be successful. I was never handed anything… and worked hard for every single thing I’ve ever had. For that I am forever grateful… and in times of doubt + disappointment I remember this + it keeps me focused on task at hand. This also keeps me living the thrifty life… because I don’t rely on anyone else to give me what I need.”
tell us about the process of becoming a store owner. we are pretty sure that it doesn’t happen overnight.
“It didn’t happen overnight + was completely unexpected… but the opportunity fell into my lap… + I accepted the challenge. I started posting pictures when Instagram came out about 2 years ago… then people started to ask if they could buy my items… I started selling them locally and online… then the popups… then the flea markets… then the storefront! I’ve let the business take its own path… never forcing anything but rather taking the opportunities that arise… and so far so good. ”
what is the meaning behind the name?
“M I N T, obviously the color is wonderful but the deeper meaning behind the brand plays off the mint condition of used items in pristine condition; as new as well as being FRESH! We spent days/weeks/months trying to figure out the perfect name. In one word it encompassed everything we wanted to represent. Fresh styles, quality items & who doesn’t love that color?”
where in Providence are you located?
“We are located on the West Side, also known as the ‘Best Side‘ at: 379 Broadway, Providence, RI 02909.”
We heard that Providence Painted Signs painted the logo and antlers on your windows. Tell us about that process!
“I’m a RISD graduate + have a deep connection to all things art. I’m a complete typography nerd as I studied graphic design– so naturally I fell in love with their work + followed them on Instagram way before I rebranded my business SUEDE. I was always obsessed with their attention to detail + of course the nostalgia of bringing back a forgotten craft.”
“What they are doing is art. What they are doing is classic. It is timeless, durable + unique. They build a letter with paint like an architect builds a building… their work is really extraordinary. It takes time, hard work, attention to detail + it requires a skill that not everyone can attain.”
“I watched Buck Hastings paint that window for over 7 hours in awe. Steady hand… lost in his work. I remember every stroke he took with precision. My logo wasn’t ordered online, made by a machine + just thrown up on the window… it was created by hand… by a human being. And there is nothing more satisfying for a designer than seeing your work come alive. The guys who run the company are incredibly kind, hardworking + talented. What they offer is everything I want to represent for M I N T.”
tell us about the things you have at MINT. a little bird told us you also sell MENSWEAR?!
“Girl we are 50% menswear! Here’s a secret: I love shopping for men’s clothes more than women’s items! I also think that this is another thing that sets M I N T apart. We care about both our man + lady friends equally. We have apparel + accessories for men + women. Every now + then we will have vintage furniture + small home goods. Everything we have is unique. We don’t have 2 of exactly the same item. Ever!
So when your friends ask you where you got that… you can say M I N T… but it’s one of a kind!”
what is it like being a female business-owner and running a boutique solo?
“It incredibly challenging.
On so many different levels.
Every single day.
There is so much that goes on behind the scenes that no one could ever imagine. You have to be master puppeteer. Balancing 100 balls in the air at any given time… while looking head for more to take on. There is a whole internet world that needs to be fed, almost hourly. Instragam, Twitter, Pinterest, Tumblr + Facebook OH MY! You have to be two steps ahead so that you don’t get two steps behind, become irrelevant + forgotten. Then there are the hours in the store, the hours promoting, networking, bookkeeping, connecting with your customers + most importantly SOURCING. But what you don’t see aside from all the logistical work is also the thick skin that I’ve built. From losing business partners, to fending off men who are inappropriate with me because I’m a public figure, to females commenting on my unconventional body type, you get criticized often. There are those who still think wearing second hand clothing is taboo. There are those who think fashion is ridiculous. There are those who don’t understand why I don’t go to the mall or shop online. These things constantly poke + prod you…but build armor, push forward and rebound faster and faster every time they pop up.
Sometimes when I’m at the store alone at night. I get afraid…
Sometimes when I am setting up by myself. I get tired…
Sometimes when I work 40 hours at my day job + another 30 at M I N T… I forget where I am.
But when I see someone so excited by their find… I forget about being afraid + tired… and I know exactly what I’m doing.
Being an entrepreneur isn’t always glamorous; it takes blood, sweet + many tears. It’s dirty work digging for thrifted items. There are disappointments, setbacks + the most significant skill is tucking way the fear of failure. Being an entrepreneur takes dedication + the ability to rebound an undisclosed amount of times. It isn’t made for everyone + not everyone can handle the pressure or dedication. Nothing worth anything ever came easy…
My favorite quote sums this up:
Entrepreneurship is living a few year of your life like most people won’t,
so that you can spend the rest of your life like most people can’t. “
when did you first become interested in style and fashion?
“When I realized that vintage clothing actually fit me because of my body type. I hated shopping. Nothing ever fit and I always thought there was something wrong with me. And no matter how little I ate or how much I worked out my body type wouldn’t change. I realized that it wasn’t me, it was the clothes today! Understanding what cuts fit me better allowed a new world to open up to me. Vintage clothes were made for women with CURVES. They are flattering, comfortable and hit you in the right places.”
Tell us, what inspires you?
“Music, theater, art, design, and travel.”
we wonder about how you decide what to have at MINT.
“I pay attention to trends, past + present but most importantly it comes from my favorite stalker behavior.
I’m a people watcher. I watch people at cafes, airports, in the store, on the street, at work… at play. I look at what they are wearing, how they wear it + what items they combine together. Then I have those ideas in my head while I’m thrifting. I rarely go looking for specific items… I look for styles. In the store I watch what people touch the most… what they try on and what they ask for. How they hold it against themselves, what makes them excited… what turns them off. These are all important to gaging what the people want. I decide what to have at M I N T on 3 rules:
-I never buy anything I wouldn’t wear myself… even if I was a dude.
-I don’t’ care about what’s cool, I buy things that are unique… even if it’s weird.
-I stay away from things that are broken, torn, or stained… you’re never going to fix it!”
JAY! I LOVE YOUR CLOTHES! how would you describe your personal style?
“I consider my style to be a bit of a chameleon. I can dress ladylike, trendy, high glam, professional, or casual and laidback when I want/need to. I change according to the situation, my mood and the weather. You won’t find me wearing the same style 2 days in a row and it will always have a hint of vintage.”
Us Winter Moon gals have a few creative outlets, tell us besides fashion and thrifting what else do you do creatively?
“I kind of have a love affair with music. So I try to surround myself with it always and go to as many shows as often as possible. I’m also a graphic designer so I can geek out over typography and color swatches all day long.”
tell us about some of your favorite places you’ve traveled to.
“I just got back from Europe where I toured the entire country of Turkey, where I went to 12 cities in 15 days. It was unreal. That country is magic.”
what is the best business advice you’ve ever received?
“Julie Sygiel of Dear Kate, gave me the best business advice I’ve ever received. She told me: “let the business take you where it wants to go.” She explained to me that greatest thing she learned was to let things happen organically, not to fight change, and grow with it, as change will inevitably happen. What you’re building has its own journey and It will never be what you thought it was going to be in the beginning… it will evolve and transform. That is what it takes to be great. Be a chameleon. ”
what would advice would you give to someone considering opening a boutique of their own?
For anyone starting a business on their own… I’d say the following:
–Originality… this will make or break you. Be the first to do it, and do it better than the rest.
–Dedication… it takes time to build something great… it doesn’t happen overnight.
–Sacrifice… what you want right now, for what will have a greater return in the long run.
–Investment… of time + money. It goes hand in hand + never ends.
–Challenges… you will face them. How you quickly you recover + how gracefully you react will indicate your success.
–Competition… you can run a business alone… but it takes the support of a community to be truly successful. Be involved, connected + help each other out. Appreciate + support your fellow entrepreneurs… you get each other like no one else ever could… but keep in mind… there are those who are so competitive they won’t let you in or will try to copy you. Find those rare people in your industry who will inspire you + want you to do well. Work together.
–Rewards… treat yourself, often, or it will all be for nothing.
Stay fresh, provide excellence, + at an affordable price… I guess…
just be M I N T … and you’ll be just fine.”
we love love love connecting with our readers with social media, what kinds of social media can we follow you?
“We love it too….. M I N T is everywhere!”
We love how honest and transparent Jay was with us during our interview. We think that she is so courageous and inspiring!
// photography by Olivia //