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There’s something about the way Toni Walker tells a story that immediately draws you in. From the cadence of her voice to her impeccable red lipstick to the way her elegant hands wrap around a cup of coffee—without even asking for it she charms your undivided attention. Perhaps it’s also her thoughtful approach to the world, which is unique in today’s everything-at-a-your-fingertips-in-a-hot-second reality. And as art tends to imitate life, so it goes for Toni, who’s very nature is an apt reflection of her craft and heart’s passion, vintage.

I first met Toni at a weekly breakfast pow wow I have with a few friends that we’ve dubbed Coffee Talk Thursday, and was thrilled when she became a regular member. We don’t usually talk shop, instead focusing on life’s other adventures, so it was great to sit down with her and learn the backstory to her incredible vintage shop Fair Season.

When did you first get interested in vintage and why? Tell me about the birth of Fair Season.

I’ve been collecting vintage since high school. I just wanted to look different and I figured out that thrifting was the way to do it! It’s been a passion and addiction ever since. I started Fair Season after I got laid off from a retail job in New York. It was the kick in the pants that I needed to push me into doing my own thing. I had lunch with a friend and she asked me the obvious, and really hard question, “What do you really want to do?” and I told her I wanted to travel around the country collecting vintage and selling my finds. I was crazy enough to do it. I took time off to go out to the Midwest and started building my inventory out there. That’s how it all started.

What do you think is your best vintage find to date? Have you ever had a piece you just couldn’t part with?

I have a closet full of things I couldn’t part with, it’s a hazard of the job I think. One of my favorites so far is my Key overalls. Keys are hard to find, and mine are the perfect fit and perfect wash. I wear them a lot and they’re always cute.

How were you able to grow your business to where it is today?

It took a lot of time and effort, and I’m definitely not done yet! Doing a lot of markets when I first moved to LA was great. Meeting customers face to face is so important. I think I started my little following that way. My goal has always been to make my online presence strong, and I did that by looking at analytics and seeing what my customers wanted to buy. I focused on denim and there has been a great response.

What support did you have or do you wish you had at the beginning?

I do pretty much everything on my own, so I dream about having some helping hands all the time. Most importantly, I would love to have a ‘back of the house’ person. I know Excel and I’m good at it, but bookkeeping isn’t the first thing that I want to do everyday if you know what I mean. My spreadsheets need a major update.

Any advice for others looking to take a creative leap?

Make a plan and go for it! Your path will always change once you get rolling, but there’s nothing better than working for yourself in pursuit of your own dreams.

What drew you to Coffee Talk Thursday (CTT)? How important is it for you to have a time and a place where you can chat with other creatives?

CTT is a group of creative people talking about whatever’s going on at the moment, over coffee or tea. We bounce around LA—and beyond—to coffee shops and breakfast spots, so we get to try new places and explore new neighborhoods while we talk about whatever’s on our minds. We all need an outlet where we can bounce ideas off of an objective group, and I find that CTT is a really good place for that.

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Written by Barbara Sueko McGuire
Photographed by Carlos Quinteros Jr.