Californian native, Ashley Tell, arrived in Australia with her suitcase, ambition and a mind full of big dreams. After landing in Sydney with a three-month working visa, she had no idea she would quickly call Australia home.
“I came down with a three-month ticket expecting to leave,” she said. “[I] Landed in Sydney and I rang a girl who was my roommate when traveling Greece … she said ‘Come down to Melbourne.’ I moved down here, stayed with her for a week and it just kind of evolved from there.”
Twenty-two years later, and Ashley owns one of the most sought-after vintage clothing businesses in Melbourne. Located on Church St, Richmond, Global Vintage Collective features a grand selection of hand-picked vintage items straight from the U.S. Her collection is stylish and unique, and there is always a piece or 20 that will catch your eye.
Ashley Tell opened the doors to Global Vintage Collection just four years ago and hasn’t looked back.
“It was an organic process,” Ashley explained. The store is owned by former business partner, Ann. In the past the two had a clothing label, Darling Clementine, which featured an array of vintage dresses. The pair’s work was successful, with the label being sold in Sportsgirl.
When Ann approached Ashley with the idea of opening a shop together, Ashley quickly jumped on board.
“Long story short, I don’t have keys to the front door. When [Ann] is shut on a Sunday, I’m shut on a Sunday. I’m part of her umbrella,” she said. “We’ve always had a great working relationship.”
It was from this that Global Vintage Collective began. Ashley explained that her deep love for thrift clothing inspired the store’s concept and quirky style.
“It started with a trip to California,” Ashley recalled. “I called some of my cowboy friends and said ‘Look, when you’re done with your cowboy boots, just keep them. I’ll sling you some money for them,’ and then the concept started.”
A string of success at market stalls across the state ignited Ashley’s passion for selling the best of American vintage selection down under.
Instead of receiving shipments of clothes to her doorstep, Ashley flies back to the U.S. for months at a time to stock up on hand-picked items.
“I love what I do but sometimes I think, ‘gosh this is hard,'” Ashley confesses. “I am hand-selecting everything, and it might be financially less beneficial for me, but I also think that’s the part I enjoy the most.”
With annual trips back and forth to California, Ashley brings home the latest vintage fashion and makes it available to the hungry Australian market. While these individual pieces are full of character and life, they don’t always come from the happiest of places.
‘The people who I buy my stuff from, I want to say they’re down and outers. Life has been hard to these people … like seeing a full set of teeth is rare. It sounds horrible but it’s true,” she said.
Despite the tough living conditions of the people she sources her items from, she is always amazed by their fighting spirit.
“These people are always so gracious … it’s always a humble time when I’m purchasing. When I shop in America, I’m not in glamorous places, it’s quite the contrary. It’s always an eye-opener.”
Ashley has confronted many challenges along the way and is proud of her work and the journey she has taken so far.
“I can’t really say there’s a big regret,” she said. ‘There has never really been an ‘Oh shoot … why didn’t I do that?'”
She remains passionate about her work and positive about the success and future of Global Vintage Collective.
By Marnie Cohen