Sitting down with Modern Legend
February 9, 2017
Filed under Lifestyles
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Small business owner and Wilmington local Catherine Hawksworth sat down with The Seahawk to discuss her small business after being open for a short but successful four months.
How did you start Modern Legend?
I have worked corporate retail for forever. I’ve been in retail since I was 16 and I worked my way up to managing an Urban Outfitters store in Seattle on 5th Avenue, which was amazing. I loved everything they were doing as a company, but I got to the point where I was like, “I don’t want to keep working for corporate retail.” I was super far from home, because all of my family is here in Wilmington where I grew up, so I came up with the idea. I was sitting on the floor of my room in Seattle listening to David Bowie around two months before he died, and I was thinking to myself how much he inspires me, and I just thought, “I really feel like I could open my own store.” At the time I was 23, and so I wasn’t sure. I started dabbling and doing some research. I stayed up until 3 a.m. that night, and when I finally put all my ideas sort-of together and began trying to think of a name, I was listening to the song “Modern Love” which is where the “modern” part of the name comes from. After that, it was just a lot of putting my experience together. I had gone to art school, too, so I had inspiration from that, and I have a lot of music knowledge, and I really felt like Wilmington was missing a big record scene. I wanted to put it all together, and I saw Wilmington on this upswing moving towards this trendy stuff happening here, especially with young business owners and downtown. It seemed like the right time and it all kind of worked out magically.
What was the most challenging part of starting Modern Legend?
Just figuring out how to start a business. All of the layers that go into it. Getting a small business loan, figuring out how you want to run the legal side of your business, pinning down your demographic, gaging the income of my demographic and making prices in the store equate with that. There’s just so much you need to be aware of.
What has been the most rewarding part of starting a small business?
It’s less about the actual business, although running the store is cool . . . More than anything, the most rewarding part has been the community here downtown and the involvement of everybody. Everyone is so supportive of each other, and it’s such a time for that, to be thriving here that it’s like small businesses are just reaching out to each other all the time and saying, “hey, what can I do to help?” It’s this whole world that’s bringing people together, which is really something you don’t expect to happen when you open a little brick-and-mortar store.
You are pairing with some other local business on a few things coming up, what can you tell us about some of those events?
We’re doing a couple of different things. I am really a big music lover, obviously, so I wanted to get into the market of doing living room shows or acoustic sets in-store and things like that when I move locations. So I have a living room show coming up with someone who was recently on tour with David Crosby from Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, and she was also recently out with Snarky Puppy, which is a really popular contemporary jazz band. She’s going to be coming and doing a living room show, and Modern Legend is sponsoring it, so essentially people are coming. We promote that through our social media outlets and Modern Legend will be giving away something at the event. Next Friday, Feb. 10, 2017, there’s an event at Dreams of Wilmington, which is a non-profit arts school, where we will be doing a dance party for everyone in the millennial generation to get together and celebrate the early 2000s and late 1990s pop.
You’re moving locations, but have only been open since this past October. How did that come about?
Well, naturally there was a bit of a lull initially. Holiday shopping doesn’t really pick up until November. So, I opened and what I thought I would make in a year, I made in the three months from October to the beginning of January. That’s incredible for a small business, that would be a blessing to anybody. It’s done miles better than what I had anticipated, so because of that, when this property opened up this actual storefront on Front Street downtown, I was able to take it up and move in that direction. Right now, I’m tucked in a cute corner in the Cotton Exchange, which I love, but being right on the store front level with big windows is something that would work better for a store as visually focused as Modern Legend.
For people who have never been before, how would you describe the contents of your store?
I really like to think there is something for everyone. It’s a lot less focused on apparel. I think people a lot of the time think style boils down to the way you dress, and for me I want it to be more of like . . . I didn’t ever want anyone to come in and feel like they needed to fit into some type of box. The same person that wants to listen to Johnny Cash can buy a 9-inch nails art print, and a leather purse, and a macramé piece and that’s just so cool, you know what I mean? The idea is to be able to tap into whatever parts of yourself you want to. You have a mix of so many different eclectic things. We have accessories, elevated beauty products that are naturally made; we have men’s grooming products and fun gift-novelty stuff. Then of course we have the huge focus, which is the vinyl records, which is majorly coming back in. It’s so funny because when I started I though to myself “oh people 18-30” will come in, but I get people of all ages. Every weekend there is this man, assumedly in his 60s, who comes in and buys three records. Every single weekend. I love it, because I find myself building relationships with these people and getting to talk music, and it’s just so fun; it’s so great. There really is something for everybody, and I think that’s special.
When will you be in the new location?
Our current location is 342 Nutt St. #21 and our new location, 130 N. Front St. will be opening on March 11, 2017. We are going to be running a huge sale, but I’m not going to say what it is just yet. You’ll have to keep an eye on our social medias closer to the opening date for that information. I can tell you it’s going to be awesome, though. We’ll also have a couple of people doing acoustic sets in-store that day.