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!
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!).
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…
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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!