“I take it where I can get it,” Sarah Shabacon says with a smile.
The “it” in this case is self-care, time to herself to recharge. Since she’s the mother of two adorable little boys and the one-woman show behind the online vintage shop Bohème Goods, it’s not hard to see that her life is pretty full-on at all times. For her, respite mostly exists when she’s alone in the car, driving to and from thrift shops, windows rolled down and country music blasting. And despite her lively, jam-packed, and no doubt at times chaotic day-to-day, Shabacon has a calm and genuinely peaceful energy about her.
As her curly-haired sons sit side-by-side colouring, snacking on pastries, and playing games on her iPhone, Shabacon sips an oat-milk latte at Livia bakery on Vancouver’s Commercial Drive, seamlessly switching between businesswoman and mom. Actually, that’s not exactly true—it’s more that for her, businesswoman and mom are roles she inhabits simultaneously, interwoven like the fibres of the clothing she sells.
“I don’t think I would have been able to be as happy as I am if I was doing a traditional job, just because spending time with them is so important,” Shabacon says of her kids. “And I feel so lucky that I’ve been able to spend their years together. Every day, pretty much, I’ve spent with them since they were born, and it’s cool. They don’t get in the way of my job or anything.” Shabacon founded Bohème out of her Maple Ridge, B.C. home on something of a whim. While she had always harboured a passion for thrifting, she was running a hair accessory business called IWEARTHEHEADDRESS at the time, and decided to sell a few vintage pieces on the side. “Within the first two months I was having more sales than I was on my other company,” she recalls. “So I decided to close down IWEARTHEHEADDRESS just to focus on Bohème.”
In the years since, she’s been able to carve out a perfectly neutral-coloured niche of boho-inspired vintage—everything from womenswear, to home accessories, to bags and jewellery, to kids’ clothing. It’s basically like taking a browse of her personal aesthetic—shopping Bohème means shopping Shabacon’s imagination, and it’s a beautiful place to be.
Shopping Bohème also means supporting the planet in the sense that these pieces aren’t fast-fashion, and they’re being diverted from the landfill. “That was one of the things that I wanted to focus on with my branding and in the marketing I do: I want people to realize that they’re not just getting something cute and vintage, they’re actually contributing to something so much bigger than that,” says Shabacon. “When they realize it, I think it makes them feel more empowered and almost trickles into everything else that they do—so they’ll think twice about buying at H&M and maybe support a local designer and spend $50 more for something. And they’ll have that peace of mind that they’re not contributing to more waste.”
Shabacon spends about three days a week sourcing her products (which ship worldwide), hitting up various thrift shops in towns around B.C.’s Lower Mainland. She does everything herself, from modelling the clothes, to cleaning and steaming the products, to shipping out all the packages. Her e-shop has become so popular that she’s been adding 50 to 100 pieces to the site every week just to keep up with demand. And because her kids are still so small (her oldest, Isaac, is only in kindergarten, while Ziggy is still too young), that means at least one of her boys is usually with her as she visits her favourite suppliers (and means those country music sing-alongs are few and far between). Still, she wouldn’t have it any other way.
“Ziggy’s first trip after he was born was to Value Village with me in a baby carrier. They love it,” Shabacon says. “Everything in the house is pretty much vintage, so they’re really aware of the stories behind things, and they appreciate it. And it’s cool because they’re on board with the sustainable stuff. They don’t ask to go to Walmart and get clothes—they think it’s cool getting vintage, and that is the greatest feeling.” Aside from being perhaps the best-dressed children this writer has ever seen, Ziggy and Isaac are learning about the world through the values of their doting parents (Shabacon’s husband works in film and television, but the couple has a mutual love for thrifting—in fact, it’s how they spent their first date). So in a sense, Bohème is a way of coming full-circle for Shabacon. At the very least, it’s La Vie Bohème.