“I wanted to commit to things that bring me joy in 2021,” said Claire Castro Smiley, a sentiment echoed by countless people around the world at the turn of the year. Claire is the owner and operator of Studio 4E, a shop selling vintage home decor, glass accessories, and other unique finds. Recognizable on Instagram by beautifully unique objects set in front of clean, white backgrounds, her shop’s page proudly displays a Filipino flag and the special distinction of being a #bipocvintageshop.
Growing up in California’s Bay Area, Claire is no stranger to the world of vintage. The tumult of 2020 sparked something within her.
“I was trying to think of new hobbies or a new way to kind of explore my creative outlet. I came across these vintage clothes on Instagram, kind of towards the end of last year and saw how big of a community it actually was and how it was growing,” Claire said, she knew she had found something special.
After buying a house in October, Claire was already in discovery mode. Browsing through thrift stores, vintage shops, Facebook marketplace, and wherever else personal style hides before finding a home, Claire said, “... it only made complete sense to kind of start my own shop and see what I can find to sell to other people.”
A unique find is the guideline for objects she sources. When searching for decorative items others may buy, Claire’s first, and maybe only, criteria is whether she would have it in her home. After researching different ways to sell, she settled on Instagram. The logistics make it easy for sellers to pick up locally, an important piece of the puzzle for Claire.
“I think that selling to my community is really important,” she said.
As she looks beyond COVID and toward “embracing this whole vintage seller community,” Claire hopes to set up tables at various free vintage fairs in California and “explore other outlets for selling vintage.”
Meanwhile, remember that house she bought in October?
“It's the first time that we've ever purchased, I have been struggling a little bit to figure out the exact style,” said Claire. Her and her husband have been “styling each room… with artwork and photographs.” After a recent trip to Palm Springs, Claire was inspired by the level of detail in their Airbnb.
“... to me, personal style is really all about the small details,” Claire said. All the little things, add up to a big thing and that’s the difference between something good and something gorgeous.