Happy Birthday Circa.

Today is my brother Enoch’s 33rd birthday, and hence, Circa’s 3rd.

It’s been quite a journey….she’s pretty much changed everything in my life. I’ve gone from working in IT, living in a rented Edwardian house in Northcote, having a full and rewarding social life and collecting vintage in my spare time to living back in the deco maisonette in Flemington, struggling financially, collecting vintage full time and what limited social life I have revolves mainly around the business.

It’s been hard and exciting. I didn’t sign up for an easy, uneventful life and Circa has certainly brought her share of drama. She’s also – perhaps more than anything – changed me on a fundamental personal level so that the way I interact with the world and everyone in it is very different.

Really, Circa hasn’t so much as changed me as brought out certain things that were already there. My communication skills have improved greatly – I like to think that I treat people with more respect and I certainly get treated with more respect. I try to conduct my business ethically and professionally and enjoy encountering these qualities in others. I strive to treat my employees fairly and with respect. I’ve been fortunate to have employed some dedicated and talented people.

I feel very fortunate to be able to indulge my passion full time. It makes a huge difference to be able to expend the bulk of your energy into something you believe it….the support of others is invaluable and nourishing.

I’d like to thank again the thirty people (many of you) who helped Tim and I set up the shop three years ago, the many in Sydney who kicked it all off when we packed up ‘Albert and Gladys’ and shipped her inards southwards. It was an ambitious – and perhaps brave – task but it gave Circa a big kickstart and I like the fact that she contains elements from ten vintage shops around Australia – shops that have long since closed down. It gives me a sense of continuity, of the tradition going on in their spirit. It’s a reminder that Circa does not exist in isolation, but as part of a community, a community of creative people who appreciate a sense of history, beauty and quality.

In the world of Retail, the third birthday is an important turning point: the vast majority of shops do not make it to this point. I feel like I can exhale at last – we made it! A shop that survives the first three years is likely to continue. It hasn’t been easy – the first nine months I worked full time at my IT job as well as forty hours a week at the shop, the next year I still worked in excess of seventy hours a week – even now I work 13 days every fortnight – but only 50-60 hour weeks. I feel lazy in comparison!

The rewards, whilst not necessarily material are definitely material…..silks, velvets, laces, cottons, linens, wools and always, always those fabulous vintage rayons. Why on earth did they change the formula in the ‘fifties? Who needs polyester?! Every day I see new and wonderful garments that I’ve never seen before and will never see again. You need to sell a lot of vintage to keep a shop like Circa afloat and thanks to the good people of Melboune (and London, Sydney and New York amongst others), good quality vintage has whisked out the door, wrapped in a blue and white Circa bag, off to new and appreciative homes.

Thank you to everyone else who made this possible – the people who bring me the best vintage to restore and sell, the people who make reproduction vintage style accessories and lingerie, my wonderfully supportive partner Tim, without whom, none of this would be possible. The hard working ladies who have worked for Circa and last but not least, the customers who appreciate what we do, buy our vintage and allow us to continue to do it.

Thank you all and to Circa: may she have many, many more birthdays!


  1. Huge Congratulations Nicole! Circa is fantastic and I’m so glad that it has enriched your life. I look forward to my next visit to Australia so I can congratulate you in person. Of course I don’t know when that will be, but I’m still looking forward to it and Circa is always a planned stop – such a wonderful shop run by such a wonderful woman.

  2. What a fabulous achievement Nicole and so interesting to read about your journey to establish Circa. As you say, the third birthday is quite a milestone for any business and I am sure Circa will thrive and expand in the future. It has been a pleasure shopping at Circa and a privilege to meet Nicole and her wonderful staff. I look forward to picking up more delicious vintage pieces soon.

  3. Retro clothing is the bomb! My favorite place to find it is Goodwill or any thrift store. Ebay is also a great place to find what you are looking for.

  4. I have noticed classic garments always stay in style. Fashion brings out whatever emotion you are feeling inside. Whatever you are feeling, have fun with it and remember not to take yourself so serious. Don’t let someone predict who you are!

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