Memphian To Meet: Amy Dobbins of Mint Cream
Ed. Note: Contributor Wesley met up with local entrepreneur Amy Dobbins to discuss her brand Mint Cream and found how this young Memphian combines her passions with business. See a few other “Memphian To Meet” profiles here.
Meet Amy Dobbins. She’s a manicurist, vintage fashion aficionado, and entrepreneur. Amy is the founder of Mint Cream, a unique retail experience that caters to the true Americana obsessive. I met with Amy at her studio and retail space at 525 N. Main, the old Greyhound bus station in Uptown.
She walked me to her second-floor studio past abandoned ticket booths and browning marble counters and floors. The building is old and forgotten, but there are signs of those breathing life into it, ensuring that it can be useful to some even if it most likely never again be useful to all.
It’s fitting that this is where Amy’s business thrives. She and I talked about her style, her inspirations, and her business.
Wesley: Tell me a bit about Mint Cream and yourself.
Amy: Mint Cream is me. I do nails, I sell vintage clothes, accessories, toys, comics, art, you name it. I started doing that around 2010, but as Dare Threads Vintage and Art. I rebranded to Mint Cream in 2014. I do all of that out of this studio right here, and sometimes I host pop-ups for other people in my studio, too.
Wesley: For real? All of that?
Amy: Well, I also have a booth at Found Memphis on Broad Avenue, and I’m always doing pop-up shops around the city. I curate artists, crafters, or other vintage resellers and get them together and hold expos called Mint Cream Market. My last one was at Tad’s Imaginarium on Madison. You been there?
Wesley: Yeah, it’s that warehouse Downtown with all the airstream trailers and stuff in it, right?
Amy: Yeah, that’s the place. I love it so much. And I’m not picky about where I do the expos either. Hell, I’ll do ‘em in a laundromat if I had the chance.
Amy Dobbins’ studio at 525 N. Main, or what your grandma’s bedroom would look like if Pintrest were around in the 40s.
Wesley: So, Mint Cream is the brand that all of your services funnel into.
Amy: Definitely. I mean, people can get their nails done at my clothing popups, and I sell clothes and do nails out of my studio. It’s a big thing, and this is just the beginning. I have to start where I start and get the vision out there.
Wesley: How’s business going? Is there a big market for vintage clothing in Memphis?
Amy: Oh yeah, it’s going good. I get a lot of college kids, millennials, folks who like Americana. Rockabilly tourists hit me up all the time too, especially when they’re coming to Memphis to play shows. They come here and shop or order online, and I ship all over the world. I’m doing so much that I have to start thinking about the future, which means having employees working with the nail part, or the shop part, or the marketing parts.
So many pins and brooches! Also, the dangle of her bracelets on her wrist were giving me this crazy ASMR tingle. Possible Mint Cream opportunity?
Wesley: That’s exciting. What kind of people would you hire to work with you?
Amy: Cool young people. But for real, you have to love the stuff. You gotta match my nostalgia. Artists that are struggling, you can work for me. I’m not gonna do a drug test on you or be like “you need a degree or years of experience”, you know? Stay-at-home-moms who want to work from home online for my online shop.
Wesley: So you don’t have a day job?
Amy: No, it’s all Mint Cream. I go out of town to thrift stores and estate sales to get this stuff, it’s so much fun. I’ve worked hard and it’s only getting bigger and better.
Wesley: But what’s stopping me from just going to a thrift store and buying my own vintage clothes?
Amy: Imagine thrift stores as Mint Cream’s wholesaler. I buy clothes, inspect them, clean them, and re-sew buttons and repair zippers if I need to. Mint Cream isn’t a thrift store, all my clothes are curated and taken care of.
Wesley: What draws you to 40s and 50s fashion over modern fashion?
Amy: I really like the curvier cuts and high-waisted clothes of that time, but also I love amount of time and effort that women put into their appearance just to go work factory jobs or other other jobs you don’t normally dress to the nines for. And I love 50s fashion because of its rebelliousness. It’s like “I’m free, I can do this, I can do that, I can like rock n’ roll and look the part.” Vintage clothing just comes with personality, I think.
I seriously almost bought that floral blouse for myself. Gender is dead.
Wesley: I’ve often wondered why people of color, black people in particular, become engrossed in Americana aesthetic and fashion, despite the fact that the era and ideals that it glorifies weren’t particularly great for anyone who wasn’t a white male. Does that ever bother you?
Amy: Of course! But fashion is like celebration, and a lot of my style icons for those eras are black women. Coretta Scott King, Martin Luther King Jr.’s wife was very fashionable. That lady was sharp! Eartha Kitt, Diana Ross, Zora Neale Hurston, they were all beautiful and awesome people who did awesome things. They was punk as hell.
Wesley: Did they inspire you in any ways other than fashion?
Amy: Oh yes. Before I started doing nails full time, I worked as a pharmacy tech at Kroger in 2006. But I was just not about that life, not about standing on my feet all day and taking orders from people. I wanted to create art, you know? I wanted to do what I want. Those ideas were always in my head.
Wesley: That’s a pretty brave way to life your live.
Amy: It’s a lifestyle. It’s definitely a lifestyle.
If you want to check out Mint Cream for yourself, hit the links below. You should also head to Found for Mint Cream’s wares.
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