Interview Money

Interview with Heather

I have dedicated many a post on this blog to my love of beautiful items. I love nice bags, shoes, clothes, jewelry (the list goes on) and it’s an interest that unfortunately for my wallet, isn’t going anywhere. That said, there have definitely been more than a few times where I wish that I would have been more careful in choosing and acquiring items. I’ve definitely gotten “obsessed” over items or designers, and now that we’re in the market for a house, wish that I had just kept the money instead. Just last night actually I woke up to a sudden nightmarish thought – just how much had I paid for that Chanel cardigan and jacket hanging in my closet? I love them of course…but my wallet screams!

Months ago I featured an interview with Naomi, who detailed her struggles with luxury goods and credit card debt, and how she ultimately worked her way out of debt. Heather’s story has some similarities but also major differences, and I wanted to feature her story here. Heather was kind enough to open up and share the good, bad and ugly of her experiences with luxury goods. You’ll see that she is smart, funny (just wait until you read her life advice) kind, and compassionate. Plus how adorable is her photo below? Enjoy meeting Heather!

Heather and her rescue dog, Dakota

Who are you? What do you do, and where do you live?

My name is Heather and I’m a talent agent in New York City (born and raised New Yorker here!).

The Kate Spade bag that started it all

I know that you are someone that over the last decade, found luxury goods and continued down a slope of buying more and more.  How did your hobby start, and how did it evolve?

I was never a purse person. I totally hated them growing up. During my first year at my first real job my mom bought me a Kate Spade purse (which I still have!) and wallet. I was hooked. I bought my first Louis Vuitton bag used on eBay for $125, which would never happen again, I’m sure! I was a big seller on eBay for a long time (I actually just closed my store a few weeks ago) and got involved in the eBay boards which eventually led me to The Purse Forum. Once on the forum, my love of bags and shoes exploded.  I was finally with people who liked the same things as me! My people! I started in the Louis Vuitton forum, moved to Hermes and Chanel and Balanciaga and finally Christian Louboutin. Well, finally Money Talks, but I’m getting ahead of myself here…

A pair of Heather’s Louboutins

Christian Louboutin shoes were one of your favorite things to purchase. How did that collection evolve over time? 

I was always a shoe girl since my days as a seven year old clog wearer, and seventeen year old platform and mary jane enthusiast.  Once I started down the luxury path it wasn’t long before I started craving Manolos and Chanel flats.  I don’t remember how I ended up in the Christian Louboutin craze but I know I bought my first pair (off white booties) on eBay for around $100, $125 dollars.

Those boots never worked for me (and I ended up selling them shortly after) but I found many (many, many, many, many) pairs that did. I went from that first pair to upwards of twenty pairs, in less than two years.  I just kept reading about Louboutins- the new shoes, the sale shoes, the shoes on eBay. I would check Barneys and Bergdorfs and eBay all the time. I had the pairs I would die for, the ones everyone else had and I thought I needed to, and the ones I bought just because they were a deal.

Heather’s leopard Simple Louboutins

I could always count on finding good deals at consignment stores by me so I would check those too every once in a while.  I loved the Louboutin style “Simples,” and so I bought not one pair but a whole rainbow of colors.  Purple (suede and glitter), leopard pony hair, taupe, black, tan, denim blue patent…it goes on. I was also always looking for new colors too (how I would have loved green- even though the red bottom made them scream Christmas!).

By the way, I do want to say that in my experience, Christian Louboutins ironically are not comfortable shoes! They’re pretty but nearly impossible to walk in- for me and most people. I truly don’t believe people who think they’re comfortable. So that made getting rid of them easy.

Heather’s previous Louis Vuitton collection

What was the wakeup call for you, and what did you do?

I was always good about paying my credit cards (I think I had three and then some store cards). With my eBay store I was always able to sell things I didn’t use or need- plus sell the things my friends didn’t use or need. The problem was, I started spending more than I was making. Sure, I could sell a pair of Louboutins for $300 but that wasn’t really helping me when I bought another pair for $500.  My credit cards were steadily increasing and I kept my head in the sand. I knew I was getting to the point of just paying the minimums (for a long time I paid thousands extra per month) and even that was starting to get tough.

Basically, the time finally came when I knew I needed to actually look at my statements, be honest about how much debt I was in (to myself and my family) and get busy getting my finances in order.  I ended up going to a credit counciling company which lowered my interest rates, consolidated my payments and shut down my cards. It’s been a few years but I’m about halfway through and could not be happier. I live on a budget, I buy everything with cash. It’s a MUCH different life. But a more honest one.

Heather’s remaining Louis Vuitton Multicles

What are some of the luxury items that you still use now, and that were worthwhile buys?

Though I sold a lot of stuff I definitely still kept stuff that I use every day. I can’t live without my Louis Vuitton Multicles in Rouge Vernis, my Hermes Calvi (that I use as my wallet.) I also have a Hermes date book cover and a Louis Vuitton coin purse.  I have some bags left that I use a lot (two Balenciagas, a few Louis Vuittons) and some shoes that I have used to death (my Chanel and Lanvin flats). Sadly I almost never wear heels so all of the gorgeous Louboutins that I kept (along with my Manolos and other beautiful expensive heels) are just sitting in my closet. I did pare down but kept a bunc,h and it’s a shame that I don’t wear them.

I personally think anything you really use is a worthwhile buy. The stuff I keep in my bag is stuff I could never part with- partly because I have used them (and loved them) all so much that they’re in shambles. And that’s just the way I think it ought to be.

If you could go back in time, what’s the advice that would tell yourself years ago when you first “discovered” luxury items? How about to other people who are just getting into buying these goods on limited budgets – what would you say to them?

I would say, “don’t do it!”.  Kidding, sort of. I honestly would say not to get caught up in the hype. Buy things you love and will use. Don’t buy something because you saw someone else with it. Save up for the things you want. Having a bad day does not mean you “deserve” to buy yourself a new pair of shoes (or a box of donuts. But that’s a post for another blog).  You’ll appreciate things more when you’ve really earned them. Listen when people tell you about the value of a dollar. And then save that dollar rather than spending it foolishly.

And don’t ever ever ever EVER get yourself into credit card debt. It’s not worth it. It seems easy- you’ll spend a little now and pay it off super fast. But then you charge more and you’re super fast payment takes a little longer, and then all of a sudden your credit card bill makes your chest tight and you not able to sleep at night. No luxury good is worth that.

Tip It! available here

How often do you go shopping now? And what is your shopping philosophy?

I almost never go shopping now. If anything I’ll buy something for my house (I just got a patio set I’d been wanting for two years and only because it was on sale and I’d been gifted more than half the price) or dog. I can’t stop buying my dog toys!

I read Maggie Griffin’s (Kathy Griffin’s mom) book, Tip It not too long ago and she said that during the Depression people would “use it up, make it do” rather than constantly going out and buying new things. That’s what I’m trying to do- use up the things I have before replacing them. It’s tough because right now I feel like everything is used up and falling apart but I know I still have more than I need.

Nowadays I’m constantly looking for deals on the things I want. I pay cash. I try and save rather than spend. And when I find something I like, I try and give it a day or two and decide if I really HAVE to have it. I said try because it doesn’t always work that way. But I am much, much, much less impulsive about shopping than I ever was.

Can you share some of the best life advice you’ve ever received?

Hmmm. I think “use it up, make it do” is pretty good. I think the best life advice I ever got was about sex though, so I’m not sure you want to have that here. Ha!

I accept all kinds of life advice on here. Go ahead! 

Well then, my best advice would be: don’t convince yourself you’re in love with someone just because you’ve slept with them. Haha…so very true!

Another sweet photo of Dakota

What are some of your hobbies and passions?

Right now my biggest passion is dog rescue. I’ve been volunteering with a rescue since January and it’s probably one of the best and most rewarding things I’ve ever done. I’m also a big reader, television and movie watcher (it’s for my job!), bath taker (…I know, bad for the environment. Sorry!).

Finally…please share something surprising about yourself!

Something surprising? I don’t know- that I did stand up maybe? One and a half years of getting on stage. I miss it all the time. I keep meaning to go back to it. Despite that, and despite the fact that I have to meet people and give seminars for work all the time, I am actually pretty shy. Weird!

 

Heather is so charming (and hilarious!) and I’m so glad that I had the opportunity to speak with her and include her story here today. She was very kind to share her story with all of us, and the topic of balancing a multitudes of wants with a responsible budget is one that I relate to personally. I stated in the beginning of the post that I love beautiful things. I think the lesson from Heather is that we should each still indulge in the things we love and which make us happy – but to make sure they fit into our lives in a logical and responsible manner. Thank you Heather for sharing with us all today and if any of you reading have further thoughts on this topic (I know I do), please share in the comments below!

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  • Tabitha
    September 5, 2012 at 7:30 am

    Oh that pooch!
    What a great interview, I save up for want I want and only buy when I have the money too, when I think back to when I worked full time in London I gasp at the amount I spent on clothes and shoes and bags – none of which I own now as my tastes have changed. Buy clothes is never an ‘investment.’ My Chanel jacket was a size too small for me but I found it a great home with a blog chum!
    My wake up call was when my mum asked what my credit limit was on my card and I answered, “£25,000″
    She said ” That’s obscene, no one needs that” It’s now £1000, I had to fight with them to change it!

    • Katherine
      September 5, 2012 at 8:03 am

      Thank you Tabitha for the thoughtful comment! The anecdote about the credit limit is so true, in college I had one of maybe $15k already?? Who needs that much at that age?

    • Nadia
      October 5, 2012 at 9:53 am

      with legs like yours, no one is going to notice your shoes….you look more like a CROC person to me

  • Lindsay
    September 5, 2012 at 8:37 am

    This is such a great interview. Luckily I’ve never gotten myself in trouble with credit cards, but I definitely have felt the pang of wanting a luxury item because someone else had it. The temptation is hard. This was good for me to read since I’m dealing with 6 figure student loans now. Literally all of my money is going to paying them off. I agree with her that living on a budget actually feels good. It’s good to make good use of things before buying more and being wasteful.

    • Katherine
      September 5, 2012 at 9:20 am

      Totally – I’m so glad that you found it helpful 🙂

  • Soo Jin
    September 5, 2012 at 8:55 am

    Wow, amazing interview! It’s incredibly refreshing to read something like this amidst our world of fashion and beauty blogs where we encourage each other to buy the new hottest thing. It really makes you take a step back and think about what’s important? I hope our community shares more stories like this to help each other stay on top of our finances and even to encourage us to use our money to help others around the world.

    • Katherine
      September 5, 2012 at 9:33 am

      You know I love beautiful items (and will continue to buy) but stories like Heather’s always are a reminder to keep balance, etc. I loved reading her story and all of her advice too, lol!

  • Elle
    September 5, 2012 at 9:40 am

    This is a great interview. Thank you Kat for putting it together and Heather for your candor.

  • Sydney
    September 5, 2012 at 9:52 am

    We could all learn a few things from this post. I am sure many of my purchases were influenced by fashion bloggers. Even though, I am a firm believer that we deserve to treat ourselves once in a while, it is always a good thing to think twice about swiping that credit card for your purchases. Great interview and thanks for sharing =)

  • Janelle
    September 5, 2012 at 10:34 am

    Amazing interview! Her shopping philosophy is spot on…I need to follow it more. And I love that she loves rescue dogs 😀 <3

  • Rachael Michelle
    September 5, 2012 at 10:46 am

    Thank you for the interview so much. I love looking at designer items, but as a college student I can’t really afford anything too pricy! I don’t even have a credit card yet so I haven’t gotten the chance to get myself into any trouble, but as I was reading this, I was thinking “this could be me!” This has definitely made me think about the important of budgeting, what a fantastic interview! Thank you again 🙂

    • Katherine
      September 5, 2012 at 11:19 am

      I wish I had this kind of maturity when I was in college…I would have benefited a lot. Great for you, Rachael Michelle!

  • Mar
    September 5, 2012 at 10:54 am

    As someone who just dips their toes into the “designer pond”, this really resonated with me. I see myself in the early stages of this story, and even thoguh I have plenty of money to pay off my debt, I do make silly purchases sometimes.
    This was a good wake up call. Thank you so much.

  • adele
    September 5, 2012 at 11:02 am

    Dakota is super cute!
    My parents always taught me don’t spend what you can’t afford & it has been such a valuable piece of advice.
    Happy Wednesday Hun xoxo
    http://www.intotheblonde.com/

  • Jess
    September 5, 2012 at 12:00 pm

    I too, am in college right now! I’ve started realizing I buy some designer items simply because it’s hugely discounted and not because I actually love them! I’ve also realized college isn’t really a time to buy designer but to simply focus on getting a great job so I can obtain those things in the future! Thanks for the wake up call!

    • Katherine
      September 5, 2012 at 1:07 pm

      This makes me happy, so glad it was helpful for you Jess.

  • Mindy
    September 5, 2012 at 2:09 pm

    Loved this interview! Thank you!!!

  • hera
    September 5, 2012 at 3:27 pm

    Great story! When paying only the minimum balance, or even not paying the credit cards in full, that’s a big red stop sign for spending for sure.

  • Anna
    September 5, 2012 at 4:12 pm

    Yikes, this post hits a little close to home. I’m far from a financial disaster but I’m also an avid eBay and Nordstrom Rack shopper. Then again I set strict limits on what I’m willing to pay for any given item. No more than $40 for jeans/pants (unless they’re absolutely perfect and that’s happened maybe two or three times in the last couple of years), no more than $50 for a dress or blazer (I usually hit WAY less than that though), no more than $100 on high end designer shoes (takes a lot of patience but I have had some success), and no more than $40 on blouses and sweaters ($50 is the absolute limit but I must love the piece).

    The catch is that everything must be brand new (I won’t buy used clothes on eBay because I don’t trust sellers that much; if it’s used I need to see it in person) and designer (it’s a quality, design, and fit thing). With these strict requirements I don’t shop all too often (I look around but rarely pull the trigger). A little story of my own: I needed some new clothes – recent college grad that I am – and bought a great pair of Marc by MJ slacks for $40 and an Equipment blouse for $35 at Nordstrom Rack. Seeing that I just spent $75, I’m going to recede into the darkness and won’t come out to shop for a while. Bottom line: be frank with your bank/ credit card statements, be selective with what you buy, and set reasonable limits on what you’re willing to pay. Of course, “if you wear it, it’s a good buy” is a great mantra but you *can* have all worlds: cheap, designer, and utilitarian.

    Pardon the schpiel but I too am passionate about this topic.

    • Katherine
      September 5, 2012 at 4:35 pm

      Anna you sound like a great role model. I love that you have strict standards and that’s why you have been a careful shopper over the years buying things that fit the value you want. Thank you for sharing your story!

      • Anna
        September 5, 2012 at 6:41 pm

        Thanks, Katherine! I have one more argument for designer: resale value. If you buy a designer item for low enough of a price you can resell it later and recoup most, if not more than the cost. Case in point: I bought a pair of J Brand jeans that were an on-the-whim purchase rather than a necessity. They hung out in my closet for a year until I sold them for a higher price than I bought them. Cha ching!

        • Katherine
          September 5, 2012 at 8:06 pm

          That’s awesome! Talk about a cost free wardrobe 🙂

  • Julee
    September 5, 2012 at 6:19 pm

    Wow, those blue, cloud design Louboutins are something else. I’ve never seen anything like them, and what’s more, they actually look comfortable! By any chance do you know what year and season they’re from? They’re so ethereal.

    However, one thing I love more than quality fashion is a puppy. And my goodness what a flipping adorable puppy!XD Dakota almost doesn’t look real, she’s so precious!:D

  • Claire
    September 5, 2012 at 8:06 pm

    I really enjoyed this interview! I am also a college student and although I don’t buy any designer items right now, I definitely know the temptation to buy more than you are earning. I’ve caught myself a couple times buying things that I don’t really need, but thankfully have been able to return them and then I feel better! Gotta watch out for impulse shopping, haha.

  • Olivia
    September 5, 2012 at 9:33 pm

    Great interview – thanks Katherine!

  • Eva
    September 6, 2012 at 12:07 am

    Heather’s interview was great and helps us all keep ourselves down to earth! I never used credit cards to buy stuff (and I never will), because growing up with an economist as a father made me learn not to buy what I cannot afford. My motto is “if you have the cash to buy something and you’ll never miss those money, then do it, but if you feel even a tiny bit hesitant, then don’t do it”. Sometimes it feels better having some money saved than a new Chanel bag.

  • chocolatecookiesandcandies
    September 6, 2012 at 4:53 am

    I remember the days when I was an avid TPFer and was online more often than not. I started craving for bags that I a) would’ve never bought for myself but it looked so darn good on the other lady that I had to have it b) wanted a Birkin in every single color and size c) started craving for boots, jewelry, scarves, shawls and anything with the words h-e-r-m-e-s on it.

    These days I’m a little more sane. I am a little relieved we got on the property ladder before being infected with the Hermes disease. I had a sideline selling secondhand bags while working full time which paid for any luxury goods without touching my savings. I was also lucky to find incredible deals which I was able to sell and the money went into buying my own bags. So I only ever paid cash for my designer goodies. Thank goodness I still had some common sense to enforce this rule or else I would’ve gone on a downward spiral.

    • Katherine
      September 6, 2012 at 10:47 am

      An impending house purchase is what is keeping my buying in check now too! Can’t believe I’ve spent so much on goods…ugh

  • audrinajulia
    September 6, 2012 at 5:51 am

    What a great story, an eye opener. I know each and every one of us who loves fashion can relate to it, and this is a great life advice. Thanks for balancing your interview with glamorous story to a true to life experience sort of “downfall” like this one. I love how I stop using credit card long ago and use cash in purchasing now instead. As impulsive buyer as I was, I know if credit card will take long in my wallet “it will be the rope that will pull off my head” . It’s hard that it takes sometime now before I acquire what I really want and lusting over but now peacefully I have a goodnight sleep doing so and it’s all worth it.

    I love her compassion towards pets. Very inspiring as her life lesson. Another worthy read from your blog.

  • Kyle Kingsley
    September 6, 2012 at 12:45 pm

    While I woul love an Hermes purse, I would never buy one. I would feel funny carrying around an item that cost so much $ and is kind of a “look at me and how much $ I spent” thing. Same with Chanel. I’m never goin to pay +$1,000 for any purse. I can buy a nice looking designer bag for $100-$600 and give the money to people who are not as fortunate as me and I feel a lot better about it. I just always think of my dad and what he would think. I don’t know that anyone’s parents would applaud their children for such frivolous purchases. While I like designer goods, it became more of a big picture thing for me. I want a nice house and Savings and early retirement. To me that’s more important.

  • Dovey
    September 6, 2012 at 10:39 pm

    What a wonderful and funny post. I love the sentiment about buying things you’ll love and use; it’s so important and can’t be stressed enough!

  • TheFashionableTeacher
    September 7, 2012 at 7:01 pm

    My husband and I both knew that with our career paths that having luxury items were not going to be in the budget. Ever. So, 2 mths before we got married, we cut up the credit cards. We’ve been married for 1 years and have been paying cash for that long. My two children (14 and 8) have never seen us use a credit card. They know only cash and debit. They know that credit cards are evil. We have taught them that if you can’t afford to pay cash for it, you don’t need it. Save up for things you really want. I cook 6 days a week.
    I have a handbag fetish also, but I go to Purse Blog and Bag Snob and live out my fantasies there. I stick to the second tier designers (Coach, Dooney, Michael Kors) and buy them used or on deep discount.
    When the bank told us that we could get a loan up to $150,000 on a house, we got one for $85,000 because that’s what we were comfortable with having in case one of us was out of work which did happen. Our car is 15 years old, and we don’t have a car note. Owned free and clear.
    Sorry to be long winded, but her life can be done. I only had a credit card for about 2 years before I cut them up so it may have been easier for me. I have lived most of my life without credit cards and don’t feel like I’m missing a thing.
    I loved the article. She is speaking my language!

  • Anne
    September 8, 2012 at 3:47 pm

    I know exactly how she means, I’m the exact same way. Very guilty of it. I love buying luxury items, and sometimes it does’t fit into my budget, and yet I still buy them. I heard the saying, living above your means, all the time from friends and family. Although, I make pretty good money, and a great job, I still manage to spend more than I should. Shopaholic is putting it mildly, I think I hit rock bottom, just when an alcoholic does…… It’s sad bc I Know what I should and shouldn’t buy. Perfect example, just 2 days ago I paid half of my credit card bill, only to by an $1810, Prada Saffiano tote, when I just bought a Miu Miu tote couple of months ago and still paying for. It’s like an addiction, although, it feels much worse than an addiction. I shouldn’t be spending all this money on somethings that I dont need, or already have.The worse thing is I still haven’t finished paying off college loans, and I’ve been out of school 8 years. Is it worth it? Buying all this luxury items? No bc some of the things I have bought, like my Louboutins, I haven’t even worn once!

    • Katherine
      September 9, 2012 at 12:05 pm

      hi Anne, thank you for being so honest and sharing your story. I think it’s just one small step at a time to achieve balance – I hope you find it! I’m sure you will 🙂

  • Annabelle
    September 10, 2012 at 10:28 am

    Great interview! Not buying anything that I don’t love is one of my main ways of keeping things under control, but with all the sale sites out there, it’s so easy to slip.

    I’m a little horrified to learn that Louboutins aren’t comfortable! I own one pair of Zanotti sandals and they are bizarrely comfortable given how tall they are; I was assuming Louboutins would be the same.

    • Katherine
      September 10, 2012 at 10:32 am

      Hi Annabelle,

      Louboutins are comfy for me – I think it is all dependent on your foot 🙂

  • Mandy
    September 18, 2012 at 12:09 pm

    This truely was an eyeopener. I’ve never been in trouble with credit cards myself but have 3 of them. I always pay it on time usually even before the bill comes. My parents tought me early the value of money and how money doesn’t grow in trees. They made us kids work in the family company to learn it and I’m so glad they did.

    I remember my best friend from elementary to middle school got everything she wanted from her parents, didn’t have to do even chores. And can you imagine she was proud of it telling at school how much on top of all that she got a huge allowance from her parents without doing a thing. I know $300 a month doesn’t sound like much today but imagine giving that to a child and saying here you go it’s free you don’t have to do a thing. The same gal didn’t finish high school the same time as I did cause she was skipping classes, is still in the middle of her studies at a university of applied sciences, moved abroad with her (wealthy) boyfriend with whom she got a baby (in her mid 20s). She has never lived alone and left her previous boyfriend (also very wealthy and lived in his flat while he was studying abroad) for this guy and she’s living and traveling with his funds now, living as a stay-at-home mum with no education or savings just partying and enjoying and bragging about how she gets nice things all the time (she shows them to everyone online).

    When I was a kid I envied her but now I’m so glad my parents taught me different and I couldn’t be happier about my independence. I own my own apartment in a city central area and have a somewhat nice collection of handbags and some shoes(more of a purse person). Getting older, 25 now. I’ve started to invest more in stocks and other securities also, not just luxury items. I’ve always bought classics and stylish things that last forever and that I love, not following the trends too much. I have a Classic Chanel Flap in Black Jumbo Lambskin, Hermès Birkin, LV Speedy 30, Neverfull MM, YSL Belle du Jour etc, I’m still missing a Lady Dior for example, do you recommend it? My shoe collection isn’t as wide. But I have some LV Oh Really Open Toes, D&G, just bought my first Jimmy Choo’s (sandals since we don’t have the brand in my country even if we have LV, Chanel etc). I have been considering Louboutin heels for a very long time but will definitely consider twice now so I won’t spend the money in vain, thank you so much for the tips and this post! 🙂

    • Katherine
      September 18, 2012 at 1:00 pm

      Mandy you sound like a responsible person who has a wonderful collection at 25! If you are saving, investing in stocks, I don’t see why you shouldn’t get Louboutins if you like them. Just try them on and make sure they fit you and they’re comfortable 🙂

      I like the Lady Dior and I’d love to add one to my collection one day – but maybe in a younger, brighter color as the style can be matronly depending on the outfit.

      Thanks for your comment!