THE candy-pink house on 41st Street has seen Starland change drastically in its four-year tenure.
Amid a swell of developments, House of Strut, the vintage clothing goldmine, has fostered the arts community in the artsiest part of town. Owner Erica Jarman hosted live music events in the backyard and even ventured into record production for one-off albums for local bands.
But all things come and go, and Jarman is set to make the big move downtown this Friday. The new State Street location, between Wright Square Vintage and Retro Mall and El-Rocko Lounge, positions Jarman in the downtown sector, where she’ll be able to refocus herself and elevate her vintage offerings.
We caught up with Jarman last week.
How long have you been in Starland? What prompted you to move?
I’ve been in Starland for four full years. It was a great place for me to plant some seeds and start a business. I’m really grateful for the community that the Starland District provided. There’s a lot of great businesses there—small, local businesses that are advocates of one another and support one another. I love that, and I like seeing the change that is happening.
It’s exciting, but it’s not enough action for me. I’m a woman of action, and it’s a little slow for my taste. I’m looking to tap into a larger audience, and I’m looking to be more accessible. You can really only do that downtown. It aligns with my business structure and what I’m looking to accomplish.
What are you looking to accomplish?
With this particular move, it’s going to be a smaller space, so I’m looking to elevate the curation of authentic vintage. I’m looking to weed out the filler and present exceptional vintage fashion for my clients. That’s really the ultimate goal.
It’s also to create a more exciting and interesting retail environment, which is something I haven’t experienced before, so I’m looking to elevate the experience for the customer. I want to make sure I’m elevating what I’m delivering to my customers and making sure it’s authentically vintage, better materials, better textiles in better condition, and more highly sought after.
What’s your intake process like?
I have a multi-prong approach, just because my life is really busy! I’ve been collecting vintage fashion for 18 years, so it’s something that I’ve been doing for a long time. I haven’t had a business that long, but I’ve certainly been educating myself just from pure experience. I’ve been collecting, but I also don’t always have the time to hunt down pieces, so I open the opportunity for people to bring their vintage items to me through consignment.
I currently accept consignment seven days a week, but once we move to State Street, we’ll accept consignment Sundays and Mondays by appointment. We’re taking that same focus of curation and making sure we’re selecting the best pieces that are most desirable from our clientele.
I would prefer to buy all the time, but it’s just very timely and I wouldn’t be able to give the store the time it needs.
Will you continue the work with your record label and with having live shows?
We released our third record in January with Bero Bero. My goal is to select one local band a year to work with. I don’t know who my band next year will be. First I had Twisty Cats, then I had Street Clothes, then I had Bero Bero.
I have a few people in mind that I’ll ask to partner with me on an album, but it’s not like a full extended record label. It’s just really fueling a passion project for me and to try to support musicians, because we all need support.
When I was at the Starland District, I ran my underground music venue and I did 58 events in four years. It was a lot of work!
I just made a commitment to myself that all of that work was really to do two things: to support the community, the arts and music community at large, and to support [organizations] like Planned Parenthood and Loop It Up Savannah that I believe in.
But it was also to bring people to Starland to get more exposure to the district, to get more exposed to what House of Strut has to offer and to be this community conduit.
That’s what I was able to do in the Starland District. With my move downtown, I don’t have the leverage that I think I have. You’re more on the radar when you’re downtown. In Starland, you’re off the radar and riding below, which is good. I was able to accomplish so much.
But with me being downtown I’m going to realign my focus to the vintage fashion, and then have celebrations on occasion that will still allow me to exercise my party muscle [laughs]. I can stay focused on what I’m best at, and that is vintage fashion.
Tell me more about the party on Friday, the 13th.
I don’t let superstitions get in the way! This is our big reveal. We’re not going to be open until then. We’ll cut the ribbon and welcome people into the shop and let them absorb the experience. Jose Ray is going to bring the shopping groove—he’s my favorite vinyl DJ. I’ve also contracted some gogo dancers. They’ll be dancing on their boogie boxes but also getting into the crowd.
This feels like a rebirth in a lot of ways. I had a lot go down in the Starland District—good and bad. I had a lot of really great experiences there where I learned about myself as a business owner, I learned about myself as a human being and as a woman. I just try to take those experiences and process them in a healthy way. If I have the chance to rebrand myself or do it again, not many people get those second chances to do it again or do it better.
This is my rebirth to create an experience I want when I go shopping. This is going to be something I would want when I go shopping, and I’m excited to share that with everybody.