Attention Baltimoreans! Gearing up for holiday shopping but tired of supporting behemoth corporations? When you shop at independent stores with local makers, your money stays in the city you love. Made in Baltimore is proud to share this series spotlighting some of the Baltimore City’s most local-supporting retailers, created by our 2019 intern, Jacob Took.
Growing up in a conservative town in Southern Virginia, Sara Autrey used to shop at the mall before turning her attention to vintage and upcycled style as a form of self-expression. That interest followed her to Baltimore, where she opened Get Shredded, a vintage store popping with personality and color tucked into a Charles Village basement apartment.
“I was very artistic and wild and there was no community to support that,” Sara said. “When I moved to Baltimore via a whole other story, I found here a magic that made me feel at home in a way that I had never felt at home before and that’s why I wanted to stay.”
After transplanting to Baltimore near the turn of the decade, Sara found community in the city’s music scene. At the time, she didn’t plan on transitioning to business ownership.
Get Shredded, she explained when I visited the store one muggy afternoon, started as an interview series. Sara recruited local companies to sponsor conversations with Baltimore musicians in an effort to increase their visibility and strengthen community bonds.
“It’s hard for artists, and I feel like people want to know more,” Sara said. “Getting to know a lot of original Baltimoreans, their styles of combining music, art, photography and the really supportive community within all that has been amazing.”
Through the store, Sara sought to bring together local makers, musicians and designers. She said she wanted the store to be a starting point that could introduce customers to a new artistic community. This, she hopes, will help keep Baltimore’s art and music scene strong and growing.
Despite an early focus on supporting local, Sara discovered Made in Baltimore by accident — she was using #MadeInBaltimore without knowing about the program and eventually ended up on the email list. She said she got a good vibe after attending a couple events, where she met some of the program staff.
“As somebody who had never owned a business, I’ve never done retail, but they were just very welcoming and supportive,” she said. “They were super nice, immediately included me and really opened up my eyes to a different world of makers in Baltimore that I had no idea about and am now supporting.”
Sara said that meeting new people defined her transition from music to retail, and said that joining Made in Baltimore connected her with new makers, alongside some members of the network she already recognized.
Now, in addition to making her own clothes for the store, Sara stocks Oyin Handmade skincare products, Mount Royal Soap Co., and plenty of other cute, nifty locally-made stuff. A shelf loaded with records from Baltimore musicians stands next to the dressing room. I even splurged on a John Waters lighter from a local artist.
She added that she tries to share the privilege of the brick and mortar shop to promote local artists. At Get Shredded, she hosts pop-up events spotlighting specific makers and artists. They typically feature drinks, snacks, sales, some local music and an overall fun vibe.
“I had the huge privilege of being supported so I could open the shop, and not everybody has that,” she said. “I’m really grateful that I know that, so that while I benefit from it, it’s something that I can’t just sit in and hog for myself. I can invite other people in on what I’m doing, which is the biggest gift for me.”
Sara added that she often sees locally-made work undervalued — particularly from women and genderqueer artists, who she said face additional barriers to success. Get Shredded only stocks products from women and genderqueer people, an effort to share Sara said connects back to her experiences as a musician.
While she was touring, Sara explained, people would comment on her outfits instead of paying attention to her music — just for one example.
“As a woman or someone who just wasn’t a cis-presenting man, I had a really hard time being heard and being respected,” she said. “I feel like women and genderqueer artists and makers could benefit from a more solid platform — and I’m not the only one who could do it. I’m not trying to savior everybody, but if I have that privilege I’m going to extend it to the people I identify with most.”
Now more than ever, she wants to use her privilege to build community, specifically given the cultural and political shifts of the last few years. In addition to supporting women and genderqueer people, Sara said she’s seen an increased interest in supporting the local movement.
“My self-expression is usually born of discomfort, and I feel like this socioeconomic, political landscape right now is causing a lot of people a lot of pain,” she said. “A lot of people are becoming very conscious about these issues like the environment and health because we have to, and that has inspired a lot of good change.”
Sara explained that shopping vintage is better for the environment because vintage clothes are made to last. Fast fashion, she added, encourages environmental exploitation and relies on unethical labor — according to a 2018 report from the Global Slavery Index, published by the Walk Free Foundation, G20 countries import $127.7 billion worth of garments which may have included modern slavery in their supply chains.
When you go to Get Shredded, you won’t need to ask why shop local — that mission is central to the store’s character and punk personality. Sara explained that supporting the local movement drove her to open the store.
“If I was going to do capitalism — the least punk rock thing in the world is starting an LLC — I was going to do something I could feel good about,” she said. “If more people are shopping secondhand and vintage that’s less people paying into these giant corporations that are exploiting human labor and polluting the environment to the most horrible degree.”
Specifically in Baltimore, Sara added, she wants Get Shredded to strengthen the local community of artists and makers.
“Baltimore is worth investing in, especially the artists,” Sara said. “Shopping local is incredibly important because in a time when there’s such a huge disparity between giant corporations and the normal, average worker, everybody’s having a hard time. When we shop local, we make connections within our community which are super vital.”
Visit Get Shredded at 3101 St. Paul Street Rear or follow them on Instagram @getshreddedbmore.
To enjoy the benefits of a Made in Baltimore retailer membership, a store is required to stock three (3) Made in Baltimore-certified brands (though many carry more). Membership includes networking, business development opportunities, educational workshops and dedicated marketing campaigns. Interested? Sign up today: https://madeinbaltimore.org/become-a-member/