Calling all thrifters and vintage clothing lovers: Hi-Bred in the energized neighborhood of E. Walnut Hills is the shop for you.
Shawna Guip has always been an avid collector and appreciator of vintage clothing. As a teenager, she began visiting thrift stores and consignment shops and almost immediately noticed a difference in the quality of older clothing versus what she was finding in stores. With the rise of fast fashion, Guip says there wasn’t much being produced at that time which held up to the standards that older clothing did. When it came to the types of fabrics used, the unique patterns, and the overall fit and quality, she found that clothing from earlier days was just better.
Today, Guip is the owner of Hi-Bred, a masterfully curated consignment shop located in the Cincinnati neighborhood of East Walnut Hills, just outside the downtown core. Although Shawna has enjoyed collecting vintage pieces since her younger years, her career actually began in the toy industry where she designed and sculpted action figures. As toy manufacturing began quickly moving away from hand-creating toward computer-sculpting, however, Guip began to feel an itch to do something else. She just wasn’t interested in sitting in front of a computer all day, so in 2011, she decided it was time for a career change.
Mass Production, Fast Fashion, and Corporate Waste
Guip wasn’t satisfied with the quickly growing “fast fashion” industry, where clothing is made as cheaply as possible in factories across the ocean using unsustainable practices, then shipped and sold for only a few bucks. She felt that these practices fueled our consumeristic culture and damaged the environment and the economy, not to mention that the clothes themselves usually didn’t fit as well, fell apart easily, and quickly went out of style.
These issues were only highlighted during Guip’s time in the corporate toy-making world. “So much of what I was making was being mass produced, made in China, and there was so much corporate waste,” she says.
Guip’s experience witnessing these problems along with her passion for creativity and community came to a perfect pinnacle in the creation of a lifestyle boutique.
It didn’t take Guip long to combine her creativity and work experience with her love for vintage clothing to ultimately open Hi-Bred. And today, Guip is continually on the hunt for the next extraordinary top or timeless pair of shoes, collecting clothing mostly from estate sales and on consignment and deftly styling them to create something magnificent to sell in her shop. .
The Best of All Worlds
Hi-Bred actually carries more than just vintage pieces. In fact, the shop’s name itself is inspired by the mixture of vintage, contemporary, and handmade articles. This is the beauty of Guip’s work: it is the opportunity and talent to combine the past with the present and create something simultaneously rare, timeless, and relevant.
“Every day I get to help my customers create a really unique look that works with their body type and also their personality. It’s really fun! A lot of people think vintage and they think granny. But you can have something that’s still very tasteful and add some contemporary flare.” Sometimes combining a blouse from the 1970s with a modern handmade skirt designed and sewn by a local artisan is just what one needs to create the perfect combination of the past and present.
An Old Piece of Clothing and An Old Neighborhood
Guip grew up in the Cincinnati region. As an adult, she says “I just always ended up working in Walnut Hills… and I fell in love with it.” The people she has met, the historic and detailed architecture, and the vibrant energy give the neighborhood a particular charm unlike any other area of the city. Although it’s centrally located, Guip says, “It seemed like it was a very underappreciated area.” She saw the potential in East Walnut Hills the same way she does for so many of the articles of clothing she comes across in her work. And just as she does with those pieces, she wanted to be a part of growing and developing the neighborhood, giving it a new life as well.
Guip says that “Cincinnati is becoming a destination place,” where artists of all kinds can come and collaborate, bringing together their skill sets to create something exclusive and enchanting. At the moment, Guip says one of her favorite parts of her job is getting to collaborate with other artists, whether it’s a local craftsman who brings her handmade housewares or a teen aspiring to become a professional photographer.
On certain Fridays throughout the year, the network of businesses and locals in East Walnut Hills come together for Walk on Woodburn, an event where the stores stay open late to gather with community members looking to do some shopping, check out a pop up art show, enjoy some Cincinnati-brewed craft beer, or listen to a local band play.
Guip has also taken part in the surge of films being shot in Cincinnati over the last several years. She says it’s been really fun to rent her clothing for period films and style extras for movies like “The Old Man and The Gun” starring Robert Redford and Casey Affleck, which is set to release in 2018.
Whether you’re a resident, a visitor, a business owner, or an actor stopping by to film a movie, the energy in Cincinnati is undeniable. It is entrepreneurs like Shawna Guip who are working to continue fostering this resurgence throughout their respective neighborhoods. The way Guip brings new life to old pieces of clothing is a reminder to all of us how beautiful it can be to restore something to its former luster.
That is, after all, what we are doing here in Cincinnati: adding in new ideas, new talents, new businesses and artists, yet staying true to the unique and magnificent history and character of the city. We are, just as Guip does with a 1980s Grecian maxi sheath dress, staying true to our roots while simultaneously creating something entirely exciting and new.
Abigail Davidson is a writer and entrepreneur who loves Cincinnati. You can visit her at abigailrdavidson.com or say hi on Instagram at @abigailRdavidson.