All In ~ Dollhouse Bettie
The minute I met Michelle Metens, owner and designer of Dollhouse Bettie, at Curve NY, I knew I was speaking to a merchandising soul mate. Even ensconced in a wheelchair and in some serious pain; she broke her leg while setting up the show, Michelle was determined to make sure I understood her mission. Deferring to reality, I convinced her that we would wait until after surgery to chat. The booth was packed anyway, so I saw some highlights of her premiere collection, was impressed and moved on.
The Dollhouse Bettie brand has been on my radar for some time now. I first noticed it on Pinterest and was fairly intrigued at the plethora of vintage underpinnings and pin up lingerie sold on her site. It brought back fond memories of my 20’s when I used to scour the recycled clothing shops in downtown NYC for retro fashion statements. These stores were always full of vintage intimates; interesting pieces that could be integrated into a wardrobe.
But the reason Michelle’s story intrigues me is my respect for her pursuit of her passion and her steadfast work ethic even through some discouraging moments as she built her brand. On vacation from a boring pursuit of her music masters in 2003, she decided to empty closets and discard many vintage costumes accumulated from a previous performance career. Michelle put them on Ebay. Shocked at the prices for which they sold, she began to ferret out additional product via Craig’s list. Befriending a niche group of sellers involved in this category, she learned of a mega source of 1950’s girdle stock from the original Rago stable and, cash in hand, journeyed cross country to scavenge through boxes of inventory in a Brooklyn warehouse basement. With a healthy stock level, she set up an Ebay store and launched her own website. The voyage continued as she opened her Dollhouse Bettie boutique in Haight Ashbury in 2007. Determined to carry a mix of symbiotic brands as well as her own concept of vintage inspired looks, she ventured into design and manufacturing even making an unsuccessful foray to Vietnam to produce her ideas. Based on the success of her store and her website, Michelle has taken on the mantle of manufacturing her own designs in SF. Fearless in her vision and not afraid of risk, her progression from lingerie aficionado to successful merchant leaves me little doubt that this next chapter in her brand development will work. Hers is a classic story of entrepreneurial guts.
“Leap And A Net Will Appear” John Burroughs