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Recent graduates launch online vintage clothing shop

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Posted: Thursday, May 31, 2012 12:39 am | Updated: 2:22 am, Thu May 31, 2012.

Both Megan Alfaro and Janice Erlacher like wearing bones, stones and vintage clothes. Last summer they decided to turn their style into a business.

The result was Bermuda Dream, an online store that sells handcrafted and vintage clothing, jewelry and accessories to customers in the U.S., Australia, New Zealand, Canada and many countries in Europe. With more than 800 likes on its Facebook page and daily sales for the past two months, co-founder Alfaro said she is certain what now pays half of her bills will eventually pay all of them.

Alfaro, 26, graduated last December from Santa Fe College with a degree in graphic design and Erlacher, 25, graduated from UF last May with a degree in anthropology. They began putting their business together as a two-woman operation in June 2011 despite Erlacher’s approaching move to Los Angeles, giving them only one month to get their online Etsy shop running. Etsy is a website that connects consumers and sellers, similar to eBay, but exclusively for handcrafted and vintage items.

“We took what we call a ‘fear and loathing in Florida’ trip from here to Fort Myers in search of the coolest stuff in the state,” Alfaro said.

For Alfaro, one of the most important reasons behind the business is the idea that consumers should be aware of what clothing companies are doing with their money.

“In a sense, I’m against brands,” she said. She thinks Bermuda Dream represents a sort of anti-brand — though that doesn’t mean they don’t have a distinct aesthetic.

Likewise for her partner, the idea of sustainability and recycling materials is paramount.

“Even when we hopefully start making and designing our own clothing in the future, it will always be made from recycled or vintage fabrics or from eco-friendly materials,” Erlacher said.

The biggest challenges the two have faced have been operating the business from opposite sides of the country and starting it from the ground up. The duo designs, models, crafts and runs everything on the business end themselves.

“I took business classes as a freshman in college, but that was a long time ago. Everything has been a learning process, and we haven’t really had a mentor,” Erlacher said.

Right now, Erlacher is background acting in Los Angeles and networking for Bermuda Dream while on set. “It’s great, everybody from the wardrobe people to the makeup artists and other actors get to see our stuff,” she said

In regards to the future, Alfaro said they are working on building their own site and plan on making more items themselves as well as branching into other areas such as home decor and screen printing.

Both women say they are passionate about what they do, and to see their hard work paying off — literally — is the best feeling, especially at a time when so many young people are feeling the pressure to pursue more practical and secure professions.

As for the name, Alfaro said it came to her the same day her partner happened to have a dream about them together on a boat, and just as you can get lost in your dreams, you can get lost in the Bermuda Triangle.

They have aspirations to one day open their own physical store where they can feature artwork by their friends along with their own work, but in true gypsy fashion, they have no idea where or when that may be.

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