Woman fuses fashion and home décor with a vintage/industrial twist

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Toni Rae in her Vindustrial™ shop at at 3691 Katella Ave., in Los Alamitos.

It should have been obvious early on that Toni Rae was not content with things as they are.

When she was a little girl in Paramount, like all girls, she played with her dolls. But for Rae, playing wasn’t enough. Not satisfied how her dolls were dressed or the décor of the dollhouse, she quickly learned how to make clothes for them and furniture for the dollhouse.

Blessed with a “very creative” mom who “moved the furniture around almost every day,” and a very generous aunt who had given her the doll house, Rae thought her way was normal. In addition to sewing and decorating, she liked “tattered things.”

“We would switch the rooms around, paint stuff, redo stuff, sew patches on my jeans and make things from my trash,” she said. Yes, Rae says even then, she found a way to repurpose almost anything.

Moreover, Rae often relished the many times she refinished furniture with her mom. Though Rae has moved on, her mom still lives in Paramount.

Rae’s passion for fashion was matched only by her love of home décor. Through a series of circumstances, this mother of three (boys) today operates a unique shop in Los Alamitos that blends the best of her favorite passions.

Actually, Rae has trademarked the name Vindustrial™ which represents the trendy product intersection of vintage and industrial. It’s not easy to describe, but she makes beautiful things from older things others have discarded.

Her store shelves have been repurposed from old warehouses. The display cabinets within her Katella Avenue store are refinished, just in the way she and her mom used to do. Rae still enjoys making old things new again, just like she once did with her mom and her aunt.

New products make it easier today. Rae is the local distributor for Annie Sloan Chalk Paint. Chalk Paint ® is the unique decorative paint developed 25 years ago by Annie Sloan for furniture, floors and walls, drawing on a lifetime of research and experience in working with paint and color.

Chalk Paint ® adheres to most surfaces and creates gorgeous results both quickly and easily. Use it for a textured finish, a distressed finish, a smooth contemporary finish or even as a wash!

Of course, in order to create the old “farmhouse” look, you have to include a certain amount of “distress” in the painting, and that again, is where Rae’s long expertise comes in handy.

These days, Rae spends almost as much time consulting with people on how to repurpose vintage and industrial items into tasteful home décor, also suggesting colors, pieces and then, of course, suggesting things from within her shop.

Her journey from Paramount to Los Alamitos took her through Temecula, where she raised three sons, now 27, 24, and one, 17, still living with her.

While living in Temecula, Rae had almost forgotten her love of fashion and home décor until two of her boys developed addictions (not simultaneously) about five years ago. Rae gets emotional while recounting her own “addiction to fixing” her boys problems. She needed a “distraction “and had nowhere else to turn.

Emotionally, Rae went right back to her childhood, remembering the things she once did with her creative mom and aunt.

“I started making things. I made purses, I did crafts, ran little boutiques in my house, anything,” she said. Rae also remembers cutting fabric from discarded blue jeans to make fashion items and hawked them to friends, at restaurants and anywhere.

A funny thing happened on the way to fixing her sons addiction. People began really liking what she made. “It was all inspired by changing things when I was little.”

Soon, as business got better, she moved into the Temecula Flea Market, an urban barn, part of the antique mall, and started selling her products “in a tiny spot.” “I did really well there,” said Rae. Her business and her brand quickly outgrew the flea market.

Rae moved her operation to Seal Beach for a time and then to Los Alamitos, where her “Vindustrial” shop is today. “There has been lots of challenges in my life but my ‘shop’ has been through all of them.”

Rae not only consults residents on décor, she offers advice on colors, fabrics and much more. Her Vindustrial “Paint Nights” replicate the fine art of having a glass of wine and painting, only during Rae’s ‘paint night,’ participants learn how to paint objects, wood, and other interesting techniques.

Home renovation and décor television networks like “HDTV” has been a boon for business, she said, giving people a taste of knowledge and inspirations that they don’t quite know how to finish. They come to Vindustrial and Rae

“A lot of people think they know, but quickly learn they could use a bit of advice,” she says. “I use their own knowledge to help them make the right choices.”

The Vindustrial trend is so hot that her business is expanding in other ways. Just two weeks ago, a television set designer walked in and purchased a massive amount of materials, paint and décor to build a set for a tv show.

Rae’s business now seems ready to grow again. She is looking at various spaces in Los Alamitos to greatly expand her shop to include more displays, elements, and vintage/industrial pieces that will appeal to homeowners’ desires to make their houses a home. More housing developers are visiting as well.

There will be challenges ahead, Rae knows, but she is gratified with the choices she’s made. Her sons are doing great, the business they inspired doing equally well, and the farmhouse trend is getting stronger by the day.

Even the most modern homes, want a touch of the “vindustrial look” to give them the feel of an old farmhouse; an atmosphere where love and families can comfortably grow.

In an industry designed to repurpose otherwise outdated things, Rae has found a way to repurpose her own life. Her love of fashion and home décor have seemed to have come together in an ideal business at a very opportune time.

It’s more obvious today than when she was a child than Toni Rae is not content with the way things are, but she has also found the courage to repaint her life with the colors of success.

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