Yana Pietras & Ian O'Neill own Moth Oddities, an online shop based in Minneapolis, MN. They specialize in highly-curated vintage fashion for women and men, circa 1950s - 1990s. The Moth Oddities vintage collection is hand-selected all across the USA and Italy. Yana and Ian strongly believe in the power of recycled fashion and promote the importance of purchasing vintage goods to help reduce the amount of textiles that end up in landfills. To meet Yana and Ian and learn more about Moth Oddities in person, be sure to stop by the upcoming Rummage event at the Minnesota State Fairgrounds at the new West End Market! Read our full Rummage event preview story for more details!
Talk about the beginnings of Moth Oddities. What inspired you to begin this endeavor? We started Moth Oddities in the summer of 2014. Moth Oddities evolved out of our shared passion for unearthing unique, high-quality vintage items that have stood the test of time. Together we would spend most weekends scouring the racks at local thrift stores. Date nights turned into vintage hunts! We have always been inspired by fashion that tells a story from the past, while also contributing to the betterment of our environment. Our goal at Moth Oddities is to continue to breathe new life into these items and present them in a contemporary light. Do you remember the first time you connected with recycled fashion? Was it gradual or all at once? YANA: My mom has taken me to thrift stores, antique stores & garage sales since I was little. Recycled fashion was a part of my upbringing. I remember having mini yard sales where I would sell my lightly-worn clothing and style outfits all over the hill in the front yard of my childhood home. HA!
IAN: I have always loved digging through garage sales, but I really got into thrifting when I started college, partially due to the necessity to find clothes and home goods on the cheap and partially because I could find one-of-a-kind items.
Have you always been creative? How do you explore your creative voice? YANA: I grew up in a creative household. My parents are both artists and own an architectural glass art company that they started together 45 years ago. Growing up in this environment made me creative in an entrepreneurial sense. They encouraged "out of the box” thinking and have always supported my ideas over the years. After high school I decided to go to college for graphic design at the University of Minnesota. That's where I met Ian! IAN: Before Moth Oddities I most often expressed my creativity in a more fine-art sense. Early in high school I studied drawing, painting and photography. As I developed over the years I focused more on painting and then pursued a degree in graphic design in college. Yana and I currently explore our creative voices with Moth Oddities. From curating our vintage collection, styling photo shoots, taking product photos, and updating our website & social media, the skills we learned in design school have been an integral part of the success of the Moth Oddities brand. Your site shares that you promote the importance of purchasing vintage goods to help reduce the amount of textiles that end up in landfills. Do you feel like this aspect of the fashion industry is often forgotten about? Definitely. The fashion industry is the second leading polluter in the United States, right after the oil industry. The mass production of clothing from fast fashion retailers has so many disturbing factors involved that it's difficult to know exactly what to focus on and how to digest it all at once. Below is a brief overview of these issues:
- Dangerous, substandard working conditions that result in health & safety risks for workers
- Unfair wages for workers
- Child labor
- Detrimental environmental impacts with the sheer amount of clothing that is produced, sold & ultimately thrown away, not to mention all of the toxic waste pumped into bodies of water and poison gases released into the air during production
What are a few ways that people can become more cognizant consumers in today's society? We strongly believe that ethical fashion starts with the consumer! Just as there are many different problems with the fashion industry, there are many different ways to approach an ethical solution as well, such as:
- Buying vintage/recycled (Our favorite!)
- Buying locally produced items (Look for 'Made in USA')
- Buying fair trade items
- Buying handmade items
- Buying items that use eco-friendly materials
- Buying items that use eco-friendly production techniques
As vintage connoisseurs, we emphasize the importance of purchasing vintage or recycled fashion. There are already enough clothes on this planet! Every time a person purchases something recycled rather than new, they are helping to minimize the carbon footprint. These purchases can be made the most economically at thrift stores, but if the idea of spending time digging through used clothes isn't your thing, there are many curated vintage shops out there!
We also focus a lot on small businesses in our day-to-day personal purchases. One of our favorite quotes is "When you buy from a small business, an actual person does a little happy dance." We like to keep this in mind when we shop. If we're looking for something specific we'll do a little research beforehand to see if there is a local business that specializes in this product. Supporting the local economy is huge! In terms of living and making in Minnesota, do you feel connected to this place? A lot of our business is done on the road, as we hand-select our vintage collection all across the USA, however, we do consider Minnesota to be our hub and we will likely always come back "home" to the Twin Cities.
Do you feel like making and creating through your business allows you to contribute to something larger than yourself?
Yes! As mentioned earlier, we are very passionate about ethical fashion, the betterment of the environment, and the health of the planet. We believe Moth Oddities is our way of expressing this passion and spreading awareness.