On the Prowl Vintage

On the Prowl Vintage

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A local woman is telling stories – not through words, but instead, vintage clothing. See how she’s bringing fashion back to life with her Cincinnati-based online shop.

On the Prowl Vintage is an online-based Etsy shop that offers vintage clothing.
On the Prowl Vintage is an online-based Etsy shop that sells vintage clothing.

For Bessi Bruns, clothing has always told a story. Fashion spans decades and can communicate the culture of a time period in the blink of an eye. “In high school, I became very interested in the Beatles and 60s pop culture,” Bruns explains. “I [began] learning about 60s fashion, and Pattie Boyd was my idol. I eventually moved on to learning about other decades, and during college I started collecting vintage for myself.”

As her vintage collection grew, Bruns realized the market there might be to share her passion with others. “eBay and Myspace were big at that time, so I thought I would try auctioning some of my clothing off,” she recalls. “Since that day, I have never looked back, and from there on I knew I wanted vintage clothing to be a permanent part of my life.”

Nine years ago, Bruns was diagnosed with Cogans Syndrome, which left her with hearing and vision troubles. “[I was] unable to work a normal job,” she says, but adds. “On the Prowl has provided me with motivation to wake up, get out of bed and make the most out of each day.”

On the Prowl Vintage offers unique and wearable women’s attire from the 20th century. From evening gowns to everyday apparel, to lingerie and retro jackets, Bruns tries to find pieces to speak to every woman’s style. “My customer is aware of current fashion trends but still wants to be unique. She has a strong sense of identity and she’s not afraid to break fashion rules.”

For Bruns, vintage is special because the items hold special meaning. One of Bruns’ favorite ways to find authentic pieces is to shop estate sales and make house calls. ”[I find] beautiful dresses worn on honeymoons, gifts from their husbands, and special outfits bought for special memories,” she says. “When family members know their relative’s possessions are going to caring hands, [it] makes the process of cleaning out closets a bit easier and even enjoyable.”

Vintage always inspires current fashion trends, but there is something special about buying the real thing. Of recent popular styles, Bruns says, “I see a little bit of all the 20th century decades making a comeback. 20’s party dresses, 50’s fit and flare dresses, 70’s maxi skirts with wide brimmed hats and 90’s crop tops are all things that have been very popular the past couple of years.”

On the Prowl Vintage is currently an online-only shop, and can be found on Etsy. “I really enjoy the process of running an online shop…since I’m online based I have access to a wide range of customers. Half of my customer base is international,” Bruns says. “I have also sold to celebrity stylists, performers, museums, and designers that work for companies like Anthropologie and Ann Taylor Loft.”

On the topic of opening a brick and mortar location, Bruns says, “Having a place where customers can interact with the clothing would be quit special. I am open to the idea if the right opportunity presents itself.”

Why should the stylish woman shop vintage? Bruns gave several reasons. “The quality of today’s clothing is so much different compared to that of vintage clothing. Clothing was built to last a lifetime,” she says. Of the new trend in mass-produced clothing, Bruns says, “There’s a reason that big-box stores can sell brand new dresses for $24. By choosing vintage, you’re not only avoiding bad labor practices, but you get to wear something that is special, has a history and stands out in all the right ways.”

On the Prowl Vintage can be found on Etsy at www.etsy.com/shop/ontheprowl, on Facebook at www.facebook.com/ontheprowlvintage and Instagram at @ontheprowlvintage.