Hi everyone! I’m so excited about today’s interview! I met Sara and Maris not too long when James and I were visiting one of our favorite places, Ann Arbor, Michigan. Sara and Maris co-own and operate an amazing vintage store in Ann Arbor called Avtombile (pronounced automobile…but more on that later.) Sara was kind enough to answer a few questions for us today! Also, check back later for an amazing giveaway I’ll be announcing courtesy of Sara and AVTO. Okay, on to the good stuff…
lucky star: Hi Sara! Thanks so much for talking with us! Tell us a little bit about Avtomobile and how you and Maris came to open the store.
sara renner: Maris and I both come from design backgrounds, graduating from Columbus College of Art and Design in Columbus, Ohio. He is more illustration and graphics driven and I follow along the lines of fashion design and fashion illustration. When we first met, we were living in the Big Apple working for American Eagle Outfitters corporate offices. Both feeling a bit stale and stagnate with the corporate world , we combined our talents and skills to create our own adventure: to birth a business that reflects our personal taste, style and love for art and American history.
ls: How did you guys come up with the name Avtomobile?
sr: AVTOMOBILE was actually inspired by a structural drawing of a car. Originally AVTOMOBILE was used by Maris and a couple of artists when they collaborated to have art galleries. We use the letter “v” to differentiate from cars and other automobiles. It’s actually an old English “u”, but still pronounced automobile.
ls: Tell us a little about your design background and the pieces in your store made by you and Maris.
sr: Both Maris and I are from the Midwest. He is from Michigan and I am from Ohio. We bring the love for the outdoors combined with current trends and vintage apparel to the table. As you walk through the store, all of your senses are being stimulated: the smell of piñon insense uplifting memories of summer camp and your cottage in the upper peninsula, the feeling of the soft, worn in fabrics of the AVTO brand, and the sight of the walls covered in watercolor illustrations and exposed brick. Each piece and garment has had a personal touch from Maris and me. From marketing tags to hidden details throughout piece.
ls: When and how did you discover your love of vintage and fashion? Was there a particular garment, vintage store, or person that really ignited your passion?
sr: I can say we both a have a deep passion of our heritage and where we both grew up. Together we are very inspired by our parents and grandparents and how they grew up without the crazy technology that we have today. The simplicity and appreciation for their belongings really shows the quality of life back then. The vintage clothing from their era shows the quality and durability we lack in current fashion.
ls: Do have particular blogs that you love to read for inspiration? Or favorite magazines?
sr: My favorite blogs are Atlantic Pacific, Natalie Off Duty, Sincerely Kinsey, Sincerely Jules, Knight Cat, Fox on the Run, Mojitos and Blow, and of course Pinterest. Maris’ favorites are Mister Freedom, Reddit, Booooom, and Swimsuit Department. We are always reading the New Yorker, Nylon, Vogue, GQ, Rolling Stone and Folk Magazine.
ls: How would you characterize your personal style? Do you mostly dress in vintage or do you like to mix old and new pieces together? Do you have a particular “style icon” that you look to for inspiration?
sr: My style is very boy meets girl. I love to wear vintage lacey tops, mixed floral patterns, vintage bed jackets and statement necklaces with denim. I would say my style is a mix of Audrey Hepburn, Debby Harry, and Bridget Bardot. So it’s always a mix of new with old. Maris dislikes denim on himself. He likes to wear cut off cords or dress pants. He always pairs his bottoms with a vintage or Avto graphic t-shirt and a plaid button down. He accessorizes with his kicks; worn out canvas vans or vintage L.L. Bean boots.
ls: What are some of your favorite spots in Ann Arbor; your favorite places to shop, favorite boutiques or vintage stores, restaurants, and coffee shops?
sr: We have many favorites in A2. For shopping we love The Get-Up vintage store, Treasure Mart, and The Share House. For eats we love Seva, Jolly Pumpkin Brewery, Jerusalem Garden, and Zingerman’s Roadhouse. Favorite coffee shops are Comet Coffee and Lab. For drinks we absolutely love Ashley’s!
ls: Tell us a little bit about the buying process. Do you visit flea markets often? How do you choose what comes back to the store?
sr: The store is closed every Monday and Tuesday so we utilize our “weekend” for road trips and shopping trips. We, of course, have our well kept secrets nooks but we find a lot of treasures at vintage stores, antique shops, estate sales, and antique fairs. Maris and I marry in our taste of clothing and antique items. However, if something is overly sparkly or lacey, Maris trusts me. If he picks something very rugged or manly, I know he has great taste!
If you’re ever in Ann Arbor, be sure to visit Avtomobile at 309 East Liberty. Thanks so much Sara & Maris!