After spending half a decade in Los Angeles, going to school and working in the fashion industry, Boulder native Vanessa Barcus brought her skills and knowledge back to her home state and started Goldyn, a purveyor of adventurous couture — first as an online shop and then as a brick-and-mortar store. This Thursday, May 28, Goldyn will celebrate its eighth anniversary with a big, in-store bash featuring music, party favors and clothes, of course, In advance of the commemoration, Westword spoke with Barcus about the origins of Goldyn and how she sees the store's role in the growing Colorado fashion scene.
Westword: Goldyn originally began as an online shop. Why did you make the transition to a physical store eight years ago?
Vanessa Barcus: I had always had in the back of my mind that I wanted to do a brick and mortar, pretty shortly after we had launched the e-commerce site. I'm a numbers person and it was just clear to me that we needed to do that. What ended up happening, though, was that the recession hit very shortly after we launched the website and it was just not the right time at all and I knew that. It delayed the store some, but it gave me time to kind of feel out and nail down exactly what we were doing and try out a lot of different locations with pop-up shops. It was really a blessing in that way, to learn a lot before we did this whole brick and mortar — I mean, that's a whole other level of responsibility.
Goldyn brings in local as well as national and international designers of all levels. How do you decide what lines and designers you work with?
I always have a running list going of brands that I want to approach. That's one of the fun parts for me — I do a lot of reading on blogs and alternative magazines and whenever I travel I'm always checking out new lines. It's something I'm always keeping in mind, and it's just a matter of who fits and rounds out our current portfolio nicely and fits into our current aesthetic. More and more I'm trying to work with brands that align with Goldyn on values; brands and people who are more conscientious and put positive intention into their work.
Goldyn is very fashion-forward — not to say that Denver isn't also — but what was your vision for the shop in terms of how it would fit into the fashion scene happening in Denver when you began?
Like you said, it's not like there wasn't any scene happening when we first opened, because there definitely was. There were a lot of people in the past who tried to do very cool, fashion-forward things here and maybe it wasn't the right time yet. But I feel like Denver is changing so quickly and becoming more sophisticated, so it works; it's becoming easier and easier for us at Goldyn. On the one hand, we're growing up with Denver at this time and there's what I would call a creative renaissance happening. We're growing with that and it's exciting to watch and be a part of. We definitely have plans to expand and grow and there are lots of opportunities here now — I feel excited that we have been a part of being able to push some of that forward.
It's funny — a lot of people look at Denver and think it's an unfashionable city and they wonder how we can survive here. But I myself have many times been very surprised by what people can handle here in terms of fashion-forward design. Every season we try to take a few risks — it's part of who we are. If anyone is going to do it, we're going to do it and more often than not, I find that Denver is very receptive to things. The key that I've found to making those things work is that something can be super fashion-forward, but it has to be casual, versatile and comfortable. That's why, for instance, harem pants — we kill it with harem pants. They're comfy and Denver people like them. As long as the clothes are comfortable — and some people can wear them to yoga (laughs) — it works for Denver. It's just about keeping the lifestyle.
Goldyn doesn't just host sales and trunk shows — the store puts on parties and events that also bring art and music into the equation. Why are those elements important to involve in the store experience?
That was always a part of the intention. Those who knew us before we had the brick and mortar know that we used throw parties and concerts and stuff at our showroom and office. Music and art and fashion are so inter-mingled and inspire each other. More than anything, it's just that I love music and art as much as I love fashion — so it's nice to be able to support all of it. It all goes together so well.
I also think it's important to be a part of your community and support your community. If my friend's band is starting out and I want to help them get the word out, I'm going to throw a show for them here. Same thing for local fashion designers and artists. We're lucky to have this decent-size space, so it's like: Why not?
Speaking of the space — how did you end up in the area that you're in? Why did you choose Highland versus somewhere like say, Cherry Creek North or Old South Gaylord?
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I did a lot of demographic research — and again, the beauty of waiting to do a brick-and-mortar store while in the midst of the recession was that I would spend every weekend driving around exploring different neighborhoods, figuring out where the store could be. Really, all signs pointed to here. I was partial to here anyway — I live right by here and I wanted it to be here but I also didn't want to make a rash decision just because that's what I personally wanted. And really, who we are — Cherry Creek is not my vibe, to put it one way. The brands that we carry and what we're about is all about boundary-pushing and being more up-and-coming and avant-garde, and I felt like this neighborhood really meshed with that idea.
What is Goldyn working on for the future?
The nice thing is, the online (store) is still a presence and I definitely want to continue to grow our online business. Like I said, we do have some plans for growth and expansion of specific categories that we do best, but I can't really talk about that just yet.
Goldyn celebrates its eighth birthday party this Thursday, May 28, from 6 to 9 p.m. at its home in northwest Denver, 2040 West 30th Avenue; the event is free. Music will be provided Mile High Soul Club, with drinks and snacks from Little Man Ice Cream and Denver Beer Company. Hand-poked tattoos from local artist Rachel Paton will be offered at a special price and The Woods Fine Jewelry will be giving away commemorative pieces with purchase. For more information on the boutique and its big birthday bash, visit Goldyn's website.