Hi, my name is Lynn and I’m addicted to vintage clothes. Since as far as I can remember, I’ve been thrifting, even before it was “cool.” I remember being made fun of a lot for wearing secondhand clothes, but I didn’t really care because I just loved having items no one else had. There is also something special knowing that what you’re wearing was loved by someone else or has some sort of story.
Vintage now is very popular and trendy, not just for fashion reasons but also because there is an awareness of the fashion industry and the impact “fast fashion” has on the environment. It’s not only cool to wear vintage, it’s also good for the earth.
PorchFinds is a local vintage brand ran by Jersey City native, Sage Schwer, who is a ball of energy. A stunning human being inside and out. I reached out to set up an interview and collaboration shoot, because who doesn’t love a good vintage fashion moment? Local photog (and also a JC native) Alissa Laurie, who is good friends with Sage, set it all up and we met in her studio in the Heights.
3 badass creative bitches creating magic on weekday night. Man, I love my job.
Sage styled a few adorable looks, we put some Madonna on and had us a party. As you can see from the photos, I was really feeling myself.
After the shoot, we sat down to chat. And just like that, another boss lady friend to add to my rolodex.
What’s your name?
And what do you do?
I sell vintage and secondhand clothes, and promote the idea of fashion sustainability.
What is it called?
Why Porch Finds?
I started it when I was on my college porch my senior year.
Really? How did it start?
I basically have always loved fashion since I was a young girl. The summer before, I had this internship for buying and it introduced me to the idea of doing that side of the industry and I was like, “I wanted to make my own store. How do I do that?” And also, it was a company that was very wasteful with the industry so it opened my eyes to that aspect. How much they are ordering and throwing away, all of that. I want to do it my way, my style, and make it secondhand and sustainable.
Were you always into vintage? Did you start young?
Yes, since I was a little kid.
And how did you get into it?
Really just thrifting – I think it’s fun. All my girlfriends do it as an activity.
And you turned into a business?
I love that. So how many years have you been doing it?
So technically, three. I launched it officially on Instagram, on the website and such after college. But I did start it October of my senior year, like two years ago.
Where do you find everything? I’m not gonna ask where exactly, but what’s your process?
Literally anywhere and everywhere. I will sometimes go to your standard Salvation Army, Goodwill type of place. But also will go to big estate sales or yard sales even, things like that. But also, some people come to me and ask me, “Hey, I have all this shit I was gonna give away, do you wanna look through it?”
Sometimes, it’s older women that have just been hoarding clothes for years that they are never going to wear again, but like to look at.
You find the best stuff at their houses.
Oh, exactly and it’s really fun to talk to them and really hear their stories, where the clothes were worn and stuff like that.
What is the best part of running a vintage shop?
Oh my god, there are so many things. I like all of it. Except maybe sometimes inventory, Excel stuff. Thrifting gives me a thrill, but so does hosting a pop-up shop and just getting to meet people and talking to them. I think at the end of the day, my favorite is definitely just being able to talk to somebody, get their style and their vibe and find clothes for them that will just make them feel so confident and good about themselves. And inspiring them saying, “Hey, maybe you won’t initially know how to wear this but I’ll give you some idea,” and making them comfortable with secondhand and vintage shopping.
Vintage has been going on for a while. I feel like now there is a resurgence where people are seeking it out, are trying to stick to just shopping vintage. Do you think it is environmental issues or it is just because of the style or the clothing is better? Feels better?
I think it’s definitely a combination of things. Definitely environment, but that’s kind of the not-so-popular spectrum. The fit and the quality and also just the uniqueness. Everything now is mass produced, it’s the same thing a hundred times at Forever21, Zara, H&M, Fashion Nova; all of those kinds of places are really just copies and interpretations of clothes that were from the past anyway. So I think that has a little bit to do with it since everybody is on Instagram, always searching, you want something different.
I always tell people, the reason why I love vintage is because I know I’m the only person who has it and I’m not going to walk down the street and see five other people wearing the same fucking thing as me, it drives me nuts. I’ll tell you a story when I fell in love with vintage. I was a teenager, I was 14, and I went to Urban Outfitter in Montreal. Urban Outfitters used to have a vintage section
That was years ago and I bought this leather coat with fur trim and I fell in love with it – it was a hundred bucks. I was like “mom, can you buy this?” she’s like, “No, I’m not buying the fucking hundred dollar coat.” I begged her for weeks, she’s like, “Listen, be good these next couple of weeks. Help me around the house. I need help at work. Just help me out and I’ll get it for you.” I went to work with her, I cleaned, I cleaned the toilets! I wanted her to see how deep I wanted it. She’s like “Oh, you really want this coat.” I come home one day and she buys me the coat.
I felt so good, I was 14. When I went to school, I wore it and everyone made fun of me. Everyone was like, “What is this shit? You smell bad.” It was horrible. Horrible! That was one of the first times where I had to choose to be me and not give a fuck what people think, or succumb to the bullying and put the coat away. I succumbed to the bullying. And it’s a story I will always remember and but that is when my love for vintage started. It’s because you want to be different. Back then, everyone was wearing the same shit.
They all wanted to be the same.
It’s kind of shifted. It’s really interesting, actually.
Yeah. From the Abercrombie days to now.
Yeah, but I think people were buying Buffalo jeans and Diesel, and spend $300-$400 on a pair of fucking jeans.
Oh my god.
And I worked for months for this $100 coat and my mom said she got a deal on it. She’s like, “It wasn’t a hundred bucks, it was cheaper than that.” But anyway, we always talk about this. So what is next for you, what are your plans with the brand?
I have so many things that I have in mind for the pipeline, but just starting to collaborate more and work more with artists, musicians, comedians, and people on stage that need great stage looks and stuff like that. I love music and I always have. I wish I could sing.
And fashion and music go hand in hand.
Exactly, so working with that is also a way for me to be connected. And I always have, well I try to have artists and musicians come to my events so it’s more of a party feel. Honestly, down the line, I would love to have a truck that I drive across the country and do a bunch of pop-ups in. Have bands perform with them across the country. You know, just collaborate more and have style clients and stuff like that. Be more to the styling aspect because I have a lot of fun with that.
That’s fun. So there’s a lot of local vintage stores and vendors. How do you feel about the whole vintage culture, especially around Jersey City?
Yeah, well I honestly grew up going to Another Man’s Treasure and just being in love with absolutely everything in the store so I’ve always had a love for them. They have such a deep appreciation in my heart. Otherwise, I love it. At the end of the day, they are all supporting, whether they realize or not, the sustainable business that’s promoting not buying mass-consumed, poorly made, or immorally, wrongly made… I don’t know how to exactly say it right now, just not contributing to the negative effects of the fashion industry. So anybody that is supporting that same idea, I will also support.
Shop local, shop vintage.
Exactly, exactly. Everybody is so great. I’ve worked with pretty much all of the vintage people that are in Jersey City and Hoboken. I’ve done pop-ups with them. And everybody is so supportive.
It’s a really nice community. Everyone is cool with each other. It’s not a competitor. It’s weird.
Right, because also when it comes to vintage and things like that, everyone has their own style.
And you have different stuff.
Exactly. Like you go to Another Man’s Treasure and it’s such true vintage. You can find something from the ’20s.
I know, I can’t go. I avoid Meika because every time I see her she’s like, “this will look great on you!” She found like an Aliyah dress and she’s like, “Lynn, you need to have this.” She’s like, “you need this, you know you need this.” And I’m like, “Meika, leave me alone, I want to go to Greece in the summer, please.”
Right, right, right. You’re tempting me.
She’s like, “but it’s here.”
For when I’m ready for it, okay.
But it’s fun! It’s exciting. I feel like if I wasn’t doing Chicpea, I would definitely be thrifting. I feel like you need a certain kind of patience for it.
I just buy it.
Because you could spend hours at the store and buy absolutely nothing. You know? It’s crazy.
It’s hit or miss.
You can be like, “Oh I’m gonna go buy vintage”, and you go to a bunch of stores and you don’t find anything. And you just go on a whim and you end up leaving with three bags.
Totally. Sometimes, I’m like, it’s so in the mindset and sometimes it doesn’t even work out that way, but you can’t even be mad about it.
You have to go with the flow.
Because one day, you go for five minutes you find…
A bunch of amazing things.
That is true. People don’t talk about that – it’s the patience. Some people, like my old friends, “OhI don’t know how you buy vintage, I don’t have the patience to go through everything.” But that is the joy of it. Is that looking through and knowing your style so well that you’ll know this a pattern you’re gonna like or this will look good on your body. Do you know what I mean?
Yeah, yeah, yeah.
So wait, do you not own anything new? You can’t buy vintage underwear.
Ummm, I will buy underwear. I could buy a vintage bathing suit or a bra, but I don’t really wear a bras anyway.
I say pretty much everything. Sometimes it’s hard with shoes. Like I will buy secondhand shoes and I know some people will think that’s really gross, but I don’t really care. At he same time, I’ll get them and I’ll wear it once and they’ll rip. So it’s hard. These I got and they’re like never worn before.
Those look good.
And now they are very worn, but they were very crisp in the beginning.
I love those.
I love your whole vibe. You’re like, so cute.
Oh my god. That’s so funny.
You were born and raised in Jersey City? Tell me about that.
Yes. Well, I was born in New York, but I’ve always lived in Jersey City my whole life.
Where did you grow up? How was that like?
I grew up downtown on 5th Street. It was like, I don’t know, it’s just crazy to see the change and transformation of Jersey City over time. I went to elementary and middle school in Hoboken, so I did that little commute every morning but hanging out in Jersey City was fun. There were so many kids on the block, and we would have like little block parties and shit, and all our parents would play music and were friends, you know. So it was great, definitely very different. There were a lot more bodegas and small little shops with a bunch of random – basically, shops with everything. Like the 99cent Dream and CH Martin – just places that had everything in them. That part sometimes maked me feel bittersweet about the gentrification of it all and seeing people lose their homes. That part I definitely have a more connection to just because I’ve been here for so long. I know people that have experienced that and that change, so seeing both sides is very interesting, especially now that I also do Real Estate it’s kind of crazy because it’s like…
You’re kind of in the middle.
That’s kind of like how I feel. Even though I wasn’t born and raised here but with my platform, I obviously have respect for the locals. Our platform is about bringing connections and helping small businesses and thrive. And promoting artists, writing about issues but also it’s about the new things happening. New events, new stores, places to eat, places to drink, so there is this weird…
How do you? You know what I mean? I get it.
Sometimes you feel just a little weird about it when you, think about it for too long. But at the end of the day, you know, it is going to a positive place. And people have good intentions, at least we’d hope. But it’s crazy now, seeing everything different and seeing Newark Ave. closed that used to be the busiest street of Downtown Jersey City.
Yeah, I remember. I moved here 10 years ago.
There’s always cars double parked and stuff like that. Oh, it’s so funny. But I mean, it’s very interesting, it’s nice and I still live in Downtown Jersey City, not in my same house but you know, I’ve also lived in other parts, which is very interesting to see, like Bergen-Lafayette. I love that area too.
I love Bergen-Lafayette.
Yeah, so it’s really good to see the progression.
What’s your favorite hang-out spot?
To eat or to everything?
Eat, hang out…
Well, Taqueria has always been a love of mine. I love hanging out in Hamilton Park. Liberty State Park, going walking there and stuff. Pet Shop is another favorite of mine. I work with them a lot and they’re a good vibe. And Lucky 7 is a true…
OG – yeah, exactly. Those are probably my favorites. I love Gypsy Grill too, if you ever have a chance.
Oh my god. Are you kidding me? Girl. I’ve had hummus…
I am girls with the owner. I see her as I walk by the street and she’ll wave.
That’s really good. Yeah, that place is really good, yeah.
I love them. I love them.
I’ve had hummus in every place in Jersey City. I’m Chickpea, hello?
Oh, duh. Oh my god. Where is the best hummus?
Ooh, don’t put me on the spot. It’s tough because all the hummus that I’ve tried, Ibby’s and Uncle Momo’s – delicious, fantastic! But I haven’t found the one yet. And people have asked me, why don’t you write a guide to hummus but I’m not ready yet because I feel like the one is not here yet and it needs to come. And I was in Israel recently and I was like somebody…
So now you have an expectation to a whole other level.
The hummus in Israel is like…
It’s crack. I ate so much of it.
Oh my god.
But there’s really good hummus.
Teetering the line.
We just need one more person to just show up and be like, this is it. Maybe it’ll be me – imagine that. Imagine if I open a hummus place.
Chicpea’s Hummus, or you can just name it Chicpea.
Have you ever dipped a french fry in hummus?
A hummus and french fry place.
It’s fucking amazing
But that’s kind of perfect because I’m Israeli and also French-Canadian.
Ooh… You’ve gotta have a hummus-poutine.
Everybody wants hummus at 3:00 in the morning, right?
Yeah, with fries especially or chips of some sort.
On that note, anything else you’d like people to know? Any events?
Honestly, I don’t have crazy ones planned.