What Is Past Is Prologue: Five Years of Violet Folklore

Today is Violet Folklore's 5th anniversary! It was on September 19th, 2008 that Sasha and I, after weeks of talking about how we'd work it all out, plunged forward and set up our Etsy account. We had met at a local herb class the previous year; I remember noticing Sasha right away on the first day of class because of the beautiful prairie dress she was wearing. What a sweet sign of what was to come! Violet Folklore

This was our first attempt at taking an Official Marketing Photo. It was a very serious endeavor. (And apparently we were twelve years old).

Sasha went on to found her own Etsy vintage shop called Astral Boutique. She has carried her wild-eyed, golden-hued, flowers-in-her-hair vision forward with her and has been very successful with her shop, even being Etsy's Featured Seller back in July! Sasha is responsible for many of the early photos featured below.

I thought I'd celebrate today by posting a retrospective of some of my favorite vintage pieces, shot on a dozen different cameras over the years in some of the most beautiful locations in and around Nevada City and worn by (almost) every model Violet Folklore has ever featured. **I have deleted tens of thousands of photos off my computer over the years, so I know there are a few girls missing from this post. I'm sorry ladies, and I love ye dearly and thank ye endlessly!**

Carabeth

Carabeth modeled the first piece we ever sold. We felt triumphant!

Sarah

Sarah has been killing it with every pose all throughout these five years.

Cynthia

Cynthia is now Sasha's bandmate in Mt. Whateverest. CHECK THEM AND THEIR AMAZING OUTFITS OUT.

Sethy

Sethicus was VF's one and only male model. All the ladies swooned.

Alela

 Alela wore a Daughter of the Sun necklace on the Winter Solstice.

Maria

Maria was red hot.

Lucia

Lucia channeled Eve.

Bette

Bette channelled Little Red Riding Hood.

Candace

Candace modelled one of the prettiest Gunnies ever.

Sasha

Along with the one Sasha modeled in this self-photographed moment of crystalline sweet pea reverie.

Toni

Toni (of Moonchild Vintage) struck a pose at one of the many local Gold Rush historical sites- Empire Mine State Park in Grass Valley.

Amber

I breathed in the big sky in Nevada (the actual state).

Lily

Lily managed to remain earthbound.

Suuzi

Suuzi looked down, smiled, and created one of my favorite photos ever.

JenJen

Jen offered her beauty & grace to the world.

Mycelia

Mycelia brought the kid's vintage to adorable new heights.

Annie

Annie's playfulness was perfectly captured by Simon Weller's photographs in the Little Town of Washington (he took the following five pictures as well...)

Ariella

Ariella didn't even have to pretend to be a magical woodland nymph.

Kate

Kate embodied a ghostly miner's widow at Malakoff Diggins.

Alli

Alli lounged in between rounds of Bloody Mary's at the famous Willo Steakhouse.

Chia

Chia (of Out of the Mystic) was the Golden Queen of the Summer Solstice.

Erin

And Erin radiated her calm beauty out into the sunlit pines of the Sierra foothills...

LadyPower

I'll leave you with yet another early Official Marketing Photo attempt. I'm pretty sure we were going for a Lady Power! vibe with this shoot- you can use power tools, be a mother, and rock out all while wearing pretty vintage! And you know I've learned in these past five years- IT'S TRUE.

Solstice Confluence: Golden Summer Look Book

 

A confluence of the most amazing vintage, loveliest model, most fantastic photographer Simon Weller, and totally epic location. Items available at Violet Folklore *except for the beautiful Gunne Sax, which Chia hemmed to perfection and which belongs in her closet. I would love to see more retro-fitting of pretty Gunnies like this. Someone, please, do it.

 

The Gunne Sax Scam Artist

Really and truly and totally unbelievably, this post promises to live up to its title... It all started back in December when I was searching Etsy for my dream Gunne Sax dress- a red & white gingham sun dress. And I FOUND it! It was a new seller, gunnesaxlady, with odd photos of Gunnies lying on the floor, but the shop owner Toni was willing to lower the price in trade for one of my Gunne-esque dresses. We exchanged addresses and sent our dresses off.

Then three weeks ago when I started listing my Prairie Dress A Day dresses she quickly bought up the first dress using another Etsy account, gunnesaxgal. I didn't realize at the time that this was a separate account, with the names being so similar, or else I may have been more wary of the next development- the fact that she hadn't paid for it and had marked "pay with other" at checkout. I messaged her immediately and she said her PayPal account was having an issue and she was going to use her "sister's" account. I gave her my PayPal email address and got the payment, so everything seemed good I sent the dress to her. The USPS tracking number shows that she received the dress on March 8th.

Alas! What a sad and tragic fate has befallen one of the prettiest dresses I've ever had in my shop!

I transferred the money to my bank account, and then a few days later I saw that it had been reversed OUT OF my bank account and was put "under review" by PayPal. I immediately wrote Toni and she said she'd look into it. After a week under review PayPal decided to refund the money back to the buyer. I called them and they said her account was flagged by her bank as "suspicious" and that's why the payment was reversed. The woman at PayPal also said that this was highly unusual, and that another weird thing about the whole situation was that for some reason this one transaction out of over a thousand on my account didn't include sellers' insurance, and she had no idea why.

I had continued to send Toni friendly messages (on both of her accounts) and emails, trying to figure out what was going on. Finally I realized that this was an intentional scam. I started reaching out to other sellers and buyers and Gunne Sax fans and slowly but surely the puzzle pieces started to fall into place. I happened to be at the right place at the right time, and to have the social connections and mystery-solving set of mind, to be the person to finally call this seller out for her unethical and bizarre business practices. Which are as follows...

1. Weird & Distasteful Photos

Let's start with her smallest crimes and work up to the biggest. Or let's start with her nippleiest crimes and move up to the outright stealing. These are actual photos taken from actual listings she has posted in her actual shop right now:

Okay so this has nothing to do with the fraud, but I would be remiss to write a post about this lady without highlighting her tasteless photos. Some, as you can see, are horribly executed mammary-centric self portraits with the annoying date on the bottom right, while others hang on what appears to be some sort of weird sex fetish mannequin. The really funny thing about this is that Gunnies are notoriously small-busted dresses, and she has to undo the corset on all of these in order to make them fit. Whenever she can, she makes her default photo as pornographic as possible. Perhaps she's trying to distract us from her evil scheme by throwing some big ol' titties in our face. Nice try.

2. Stealing Images

Moving onto the theft, of which she dabbles in at least two kinds. The first is stealing other peoples' images to use in her shop.

This photo was taken from Old Age Vintage. You can tell by the sizing that it was taken from someone else (without bothering to click on it to make it bigger first). Her whole shop is a hodge-podge of different sized photos with different backgrounds and different models.

I took this screen shot last night after accidentally coming upon this page while searching for "velvet Gunne Sax". She is using the exact same image (actually all five of them) as a listing from another shop that has the same item for sale. She stole it from Allison at Rags and Feathers Vintage. Here is the dress in Allison's shop, and here it is in Toni's.

This image was taken from Elizabeth at Golden Owl Vintage.

This photo was taken from American Archive. I have checked with all of the sellers whose images are shown here, and none of them were contacted by Toni for permission to use their photos.

I am unsure of the origins of the following images, and ask you to please let me know if you recognize which shops any of them are from. Some of these (like the two shots above) were taken from her shop on Ruby Lane called Hippie Haven, which a friend directed me to earlier today. It seems that Toni has multiple venues through which she sells (it appears she was recently banished from eBay, though I don't as of yet have undeniable proof of this) and this fact, coupled with her multiple Etsy and PayPal accounts, belies her strategy to spread her fraudulent activities over multiple sites in the hopes that no one will figure her out. (As sellers we all know that presenting a consistent branding strategy to the world over multiple venues is a smart business move; the fact that she tries to mask her shops under different names and logos speaks volumes).

Her profile on Ruby Lane states "We carefully research and photograph every item". Not the only outright lie from her you'll be reading about in this post.

3. Horrible Customer Service

You can start to get a sense for how she works her scam by looking at her feedback and her Sold folder on Etsy. Many of her transactions are legit; if they were all fraudulent she'd be a much easier target for removal. From what I can piece together she buys Gunnies from other sellers (always asking for a discount and sometimes doing what she did with me- paying with a shifty PayPal account and knowing the money will be reversed back to her and then refusing to make the payment again), then lists the item in her shop, often using images stolen from either that seller or someone else (some of the shops I got in touch with had sold the dress used in her listings to her, some hadn't and she just had the exact same dress and used the best image she could find). When she makes a sale she sometimes ships the dress out to the buyer right away, sometimes waits a month and a half to get around to it, and sometimes ships the wrong item all together.

Now, from looking at her Sold section, I am willing to bet that she also profits from not shipping out sold dresses at all and then re-listing them to sell again and make double the profit. None of her feedback suggests this outright, but the fact that she has the exact same listing listed twice (presumably being re-listed after it sold the first time) for two separate dresses is very suspicious (the white dress pictured above from Old Age has sold twice, and the blue dress from an unknown source has sold once and it's now listed again). Two of the four pieces of negative feedback have no commentary, so who knows what happened there. Perhaps her probable banishment from eBay last fall was due to the fact that someone else already figured this all out (she started selling on Etsy in November and on Ruby Lane just last month).

4. Stealing Merchandise/Fraud/Outright Lying

I finally did get a message back from Toni, just last night. Here is a screen shot of our conversation (sorry they're warped so strangely):

Oh Toni. Apparently she thought she could get away with this embarrassing lie because it was sent from her gunnesaxlady account (her shop account), while the purchase was made from her gunnesaxgal/toni guy account. Here is what she sent me after she made the purchase from me three weeks ago without paying and I asked her what was up:

I had sent my question about payment to her gunnesaxlady shop account, and she chose to write me back from her personal, secret account. Now I know why. She thought she was covering up any traces of her shop persona and her buying/scamming persona being related. (It's interesting too to note that she even changed her name from "toni guy" to just "toni" during the course of our conversation.) However, I have proof that gunnesaxgal and gunnesaxlady are indeed the same person with the same name and the same address:

So here is the official order (note that I still have not checked the "paid with other" box, because I still have not received her payment), and here is an email Toni sent me from her gunnesaxlady shop account back in December when we decided to trade dresses:

As you can see I got all fancy and learned how to erase parts of these images in order to hide her mailing address as well as my email address for privacy's sake. I've chosen to leave her email visible though so that you can know not to do business with her if she ever tries to pay you in PayPal using it. Her "sister's" email address is shoppinbug@hotmail.com, so avoid doing business with that account as well. I have reported both of these accounts and the whole story to PayPal and they take matters like this quite seriously, so most likely no one will ever encounter these particular emails again.

The Moral of the Story

Is don't try and screw over your brothers and sisters of the world, and if you do, don't be an idiot about it. Toni probably figured that no one would ever put forth the time and effort to patch her scheme together. I so badly want to yell out here in my strongest self-righteous-prairie-dress-wearing-moral-policewoman-mama voice "Well lady, you MESSED WITH THE WRONG WOMAN!" (Yes I am having my moontime right now and yes I did just eat an entire bar of Coffee Crunch Dark Chocolate while writing this post).

I share this with you all in order to A) perhaps gather more feedback and hear more stories about Toni and her Multiple Online Personality Theft, Lies, and Fraud Disorder and B) to warn others about her and her sketchy business practices. I encourage you to share this post. The more folks find out what is going on here, the better chance we have of stopping this whole mess and preventing it from happening in the future when she signs up with yet another website to try and hawk her stolen wares (and then never ship them out to the people who buy them).

I have already reported her to Etsy, Ruby Lane, and PayPal. If any of the stolen images are yours, please contact whichever site is featuring them to let them know. And if you have any stories of your own that support what I am saying here, please send them along to the relevant websites as well. This woman needs to be shut down as soon as possible.

As a fellow seller said to me, "How could she do this to you!? How could she do this to the Gunnies!?"

The Hawaiian Collection: 70s, Peasant, Lovely

At some point in Violet Folklore's past I have posted something somewhere online about my love for 70s Hawaiian peasant dresses.

I'm thinking you feel the same way about these carefree relics of simpler days gone by.

And, like me, picture a dark-skinned earth mama puttering barefoot around her yard in a dress just like these gathering coconuts and mangoes and grinding taro and kava kava roots for an upcoming celebration.

When I came across these dresses in another Etsy shop recently I quickly hearted all of them.

And a few days later received a message from the shop owner. She had gotten all of the dresses from the estate of a friend who had recently passed on. But she and her husband were leaving Hawaii to move to the Middle East soon (I know, really?) and she needed to liquidate her stock. Would I be interested in purchasing them?

Her asking price was a little high, and it was hard to fully ascertain the quality of the dresses as they hung lifelessly on mannequins in the glaring mid-day sun. But I saw the potential. Oh yes, I saw the potential. So we haggled for a bit (I'm getting pretty good at that) and before long they arrived at my door step, all packaged up with pretty tropical leaves.

The ending of this epic tale has now passed into legend, as I begin to list these gorgeous dresses in my shop tonight...

Thanks to Suuzi's hella awesome husband Spencer Seim for taking these photos!

It's a beautiful town with the rain coming down...

(I couldn't help but follow in Heather and Milla's recent footsteps and title my post after a song off of Joanna Newsom's latest album Have One On Me).

Endless rain you guys! Heavy, pounding, determined rain. A lot of the folks around me are starting to feel pretty bummed, but I am feeling amazingly okay with it all. I can just feel how near spring is, and how beautiful and vibrant it's going to be thanks to all of this lovely, life giving water. (You might not be able to tell but it was coming down on me in buckets while these shots were being taken. Which means that this is not just a cute pose- I am actually looking up at something!).

Truly the hardest part about the endless gray/cold/wet has been, for me, putting off the debut of some of the lovely vintage dresses I have recently acquired. I want to wear them! In the sunshine! For now, I am dressing as if it were already spring (well, color-wise, at least). It makes me happy and, when the print is as bright and cheerful as this skirt, it makes other people happy too.

The sweater is quite optimistically hued as well. I got it for $2 in the childrens' section at the Salvation Army the other day (as well as a pink cashmere sweater!). The skirt came from Nicole on a trip to Crimson & Clover a while back. I have the hardest time finding tops tight enough to work with high waisted skirts, as far as tucking-in-without-too-much-extra-volume is concerned. The top I am wearing, cream colored with a strip of lace running vertically up the center, *almost* works, but not quite. But hey it was another cheapo Salvo score, so I can't complain. The boots are my trusty vintage 70s Sears waterproof life-savers, Salvo. The hat was thrifted years ago and just pulled out of the back of a drawer yesterday! The heart is suede and is an actual pocket :-)

This is me imploring Graham- with my look of exasperation and determination-  to TAKE THE PHOTO damnit! I'm cold!

Speaking of the song quoted in the title, check out Sasha's recent post about our friend Carabeth's new Etsy shop Lay Swing Boutique. Carabeth is a talented seamstress and has fixed up many a Violet Folklore piece before it hit the shop. Her new line of pillows, purses, and t-shirts is truly original, super stylish, and very covetable. You may have seen her lovely face smiling at you from these here pages before, as she is a cherished friend of mine and her daughter Esme and my daughter Mycelia are little besties. Have been since they were babies. Baby besties. And now that she is on Etsy we can all be Betsies!