We had the good fortune of connecting with Nick Battaglia and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Nick, what was your thought process behind starting your own business?
I came up with the idea of starting a vintage clothing business by combining my passion for vintage, my love of shopping, and my strong desire to be an independent business owner. Before I opened my store, I found myself constantly drawn to vintage furniture, clothing and design. Everything I owned from my furniture to my kitchen utensils was from the 1940s to the 1970s. I had never been attracted to modern clothing, much less felt comfortable in it. After years of acquiring everything vintage that I could lay my hands on, I had made a name for myself as the “go to” person for fun and unique clothing. My friends would come to me for costumes, or things to wear for their own fun photo shoots. After a few years of collecting (and running out of space) I decided that my passion and my collection should work for me, instead of the other way around. In 2018, I made the decision to get sober and focus my energy on making the best out of my life. The goal was to get out of my dead end restaurant job and work full time for myself as an independent theatre designer and vintage seller. Within eight months I had quit the restaurant industry for good and was working full time as a seller and a props designer/set decorator. With this newfound freedom, I felt that I could fully commit to sharing my passion for design with the world, curating a collection unique to my own taste. The collection would have everything from kitsch to class, and cater to people on all levels of their own personal journey. I wanted to create a vintage clothing business that was as inclusive as possible, because I truly believe vintage clothing is meant for anyone and everyone who wants to wear it. Two years later I have done just that and more, with my only regret being that I didn’t start sooner.

Please tell us more about your work. We’d love to hear what sets you apart from others, what you are most proud of or excited about. How did you get to where you are today professionally. Was it easy? If not, how did you overcome the challenges? What are the lessons you’ve learned along the way. What do you want the world to know about you or your brand and story?
I’m fortunate enough to have two passions that joyfully consume my life. In addition to owning my own vintage business, I am a Prop Designer/Set Decorator for professional theatres all over Atlanta. This journey was directly tied to my vintage business journey, as it all coincided with my decision to get sober. Getting sober was one of the hardest things I have ever done, and it has made me into the person I am today. I was able to step back and see just how much time and money I was wasting not only on alcohol, but on a restaurant job that didn’t respect me as an employee, and artist, and an individual. Before I lost myself to alcohol, I was constantly performing in shows around town and booking regularly. I took a management position at the restaurant survival job, and that took over my life. I was working over sixty hours a week, with fifteen hour days being told “This is the industry standard” and I believed it. My removal from performing combined with an utter lack of respect from the restaurant owners started a chain of depression which I concealed by drowning in alcohol. After a few years of this, I knew I had to make a change. In January of 2018, a few months before I got sober, I went to my friend Mary Nye Bennett, the artistic director of The Atlanta Lyric Theatre, and asked her how to get back in theatre. I would do anything just to be involved again. She said she needed a Prop Designer for a production that took place in a kitchen in the early 1960s. I agreed to take on the project, and was mentored by her and other professionals in the industry who took me under their wing. I immediately fell in love. I was able to combine my vintage passion with my absolute love of theater. I was still able to dissect characters, dive into research, and completely nerd out over a show. I had felt that I had found a great way to bring myself to the table and utilize all the tools in my tool belt. From that one show, a career was born. I was being hired by places like Theatrical Outfit after only having one show under my belt. One show lead to two, two shows lead to four, and before I knew it, I was pre-booked with work for the foreseeable future. The project I am most proud of was a very challenging show called I Love To Eat at Theatrical Outfit. Atlanta actor Bill Murphy played James Beard in a one man show directed by Clifton Guterman. The set was designed by the incredibly talented duo, Moriah and Isabel Curley-Clay. I had heard so much about them and seen their work on countless stages, and this was my first time working with them. The Curley-Clay Twins are known for their intense detail, and being paired with them was honestly a match made in heaven. Once again, I had some incredible people mentor me and teach me some incredible things along the way. I got so excited when we were able to collaborate and create this hyper detailed world. I was so new to the industry, and I feel like that particular show really put me on the map and set me apart as a designer. Was it easy? Absolutely not. I had to work very hard to create not only a name for myself, but create personal happiness, which can be a constant struggle. Both the theatre design industry and the vintage clothing industry are fast paced and high energy. Learning as you go is a must have quality. You have to be ready for change, and ready to adapt to that change. I’ve learned two major things along this journey that have changed the way I approach everything. Number one – Learn to say “No”. So many times, we as artists are conditioned to think that we have to say “Yes” to everything. For some reason, we aren’t valued if we do not jump at every opportunity. Put yourself first. Your art comes from YOU and there is only one you. You cannot continue to produce quality work if you are overwhelmed with projects or working in toxic work environments. The second (and equally valuable) thing I have come to embrace is not being afraid to ask for help. So many people are willing to help if you are willing to learn. Every opportunity you have is a chance to add something to your tool belt. Do not be scared of challenges, because you will always grow from it. My brand is everything I am: It’s kitschy but classy with a personality of its own. I want the world to know that none of this was easy, none of this happened over night, and none of this was done alone. If you’re struggling, there is help out there in many forms. You owe it to yourself to be the best person you can be.

Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
If I had a friend coming for the week, I would take them to local restaurants up and down Buford Highway for breakfast, lunch, dinner, dessert, and snacks. I would take them to walk around Piedmont Park and enjoy a Woody’s Cheesesteak sandwich for a picnic or even get some fruit and cheese from Dekalb Farmer’s Market for an outdoor cheeseboard. The High Museum would be a stopping point, because there’s nothing like the conversations that are born in museums. A theatre experience would be an absolute must, as I have to support my friends and coworkers while simultaneously showing off my industry to my friend. Vintage stores like Kudzu, Highland Row, and Decatur Estates would also be stopping points on the intenerary. One of my absolute favorite Atlanta experiences is taking a friend to the Starlight Six Drive In Movie Theatre on Moreland. Bring your favorite car friendly foods, pick out a fun flick to see, and enjoy a double feature for $10. The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
My best friend in the world, Sara Keith, was a huge factor in getting my business off the ground. We met in college and quickly learned that our talents are stronger when combined. When she opened up her own photography school, she immediately hired me to costume and style vintage photoshoots for her students. The vintage train shoots are now the most sought after shoots she offers. When I got serious about starting up my business, she sat down with me for hours and mentored me on successfully shooting products, photo editing, website building, and maximizing marketing strategies. Without her, none of this would have been possible. She is an incredible businesswoman and an amazing educator, and everyone should check out her business at www.atlschoolofphoto.com or on Instagram @atlschoolofphoto

Website: www.thatvintageguy.com
Instagram: @that_vintage_guy_atlanta

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