We had the good fortune of connecting with Amanda Martinez and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Amanda, what role has risk played in your life or career?
For the first 27 years of my adult life, I stayed on the safe end of a career. I started with an entry-level position in a corporate business, and slowly moved ahead as I obtained experience, built trust as a reliable and creative-thinking employee, and obtained a degree in graphic design with a focus on marketing. I had worked hard and hustled to gradually move to an officer role in the company with a staff of creative colleagues.
However, at the same time one of my kids had been struggling for several years with an acute mental illness and our corporate insurance just wasn’t covering the needed testing or treatment lengths. At one point I had a doctor and two therapists tell me to prepare for my child to accidentally take their life. That was the dealbreaker and I was willing to risk any financial or career stability if that meant getting them well.
I left my corporate position and was able to move forward thanks to our state’s medical coverage in getting my child the help they needed. They were able to get diagnosed accurately for the first time, start alternative treatments, slowly get off of seven (yes 7!) prescription medications, and begin therapy with a group perfect for their needs. This risk was life changing, and I also believe life saving.
Once my child was healthier, I took another giant risk and purchased a local vintage store from a friend. At age 49, this was my first time to work in retail and I had so much to learn. However, applying the same dedication and creativity allowed me to learn, grow from mistakes and now have a business that supports myself plus my two adult children. Sometimes a leap of faith comes at you quickly – follow your gut and remain positive that you can find new opportunities wherever you look.
What should our readers know about your business?
Dig It OKC is a vintage clothing store that also sells affordable art from over 50 local artists. However, first and foremost we are a SAFE SPACE to all. With a target audience that consists heavily of high school and college-age customers, we want to make sure every visitor feels safe, welcome and accepted.
Next, we like to say we are curating collectors. By educating our customers on their smart choices to support local artists and Mother Earth with repurposed clothing, they are developing great practices that will continue throughout their life. We keep everything affordable, so they can grab vintage jeans for cheaper than the price of new, or support a local artist with something as small as a sticker, postcard or print.
Finally, we give back to our customers by hosting free all-age events, like drag show, punk bands, and fun free DIY workshops. My best advice is this; Make a safe, welcoming space for your chosen community demographic and the rest will follow.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
First, let’s cut to the chase and go straight to the Plaza District where my store is located. There are fun local shops, experiences, and restaurants all up and down the strip. Plus – huge bonus is Plaza Walls. This Oklahoma Mural Syndicate has secured over 40 murals throughout the plaza, from local to national and international artists. It’s like a free outdoor museum of outstanding mural and graffiti work! If we landed on the second Friday of the month, we could also enjoy Live on the Plaza which is a once a month art walk that hosts bands, drag shows, hip hop dancers and an artist market. Live on the Plaza is always a fun night.
After hitting the Plaza, we would then check out the OKC skateboarding culture. OKC has multiple outdoor and indoor skateparks, including the nationally recognized Matt Hoffman skatepark. There is also a new local skate shop down the street from our store called Money Ruins Everything. Really good guys over there!
Finally, I always recommend Factury Obscura in downtown OKC. It’s OKC’s mini version of Meow Wolf and it is a fantastic immersion art gallery that also hosts fun events throughout the year.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
Di Harris, with Bad Granny’s Bazaar and Lindsay Harkness with DNA Gallery, are both business neighbors of mine that were instrumental in helping me get off the ground with my business.
Bad Granny is a much larger vintage clothing store with a huge following. Instead of viewing me as competition, Di would send her customers down to check out my store. Foot traffic when I first opened my store was a huge problem and Di /Bad Granny helped us get people in the door so we could win them over.
Lindsay at DNA has multiple years of retail experience and helped me understand the importance of merchandising and display. Again, taking time away from her store to pop in and show me little pointers on how to get product noticed helped me quickly accelerate my retail knowledge. These two strong female business owners could have left me to fend for myself, yet instead choose to share their resources. The loyalty and gratitude I have will always be there and they both have a lifelong friendship and respect from me.
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