Inspired to chase her dreams, in January of 2013, Jennie Cain quit her job at the University of Georgia Extension Office as an Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program assistant to pursue her true passion — selling vintage clothing — and started her own fashion company called Viva Wild.
More than five years later, Cain is still actively on the hunt for new pieces to add to her collection for her brand.
Clothes for ‘all bodies’
“All bodies are good bodies” is the message Cain strives to convey through her fashion business. She places importance on the idea that everyone should be able to wear what they want to wear without any limitations.
As a plus size woman, Cain understands the struggles that other plus-sized individuals can face, especially when trying to find one-of-a-kind vintage pieces fit just right. Because of this, her brand flaunts a wide size range — from size 2 to size 24.
“For a long time, I didn’t dress the way I was feeling inside and I hid myself, but when I entered my 30s, I wasn’t worried anymore about what people thought,” Cain said. “Now I want to be that example of someone who is plus-sized and can find great pieces that I actually want to wear.”
Cory Cain, Jennie’s husband, has known Cain since they were teenagers, and he’s been able to see her fashion sense grow throughout the years.
“There was a deep change in the way Jennie viewed fashion and how it’s not just about looking good,” Cory Cain said. “She understands how fashion can affect people and how it’s a way to go out of your comfort zone.”
Cain’s business is based on resale, and much of the pieces she finds for Viva Wild come from thrift stores, vintage stores, yard sales and various online websites. The way she decides what pieces to sell through her brand is simple — if something catches her eye, she’ll buy it and resell it.
Cain also has a booth at Atomic, the vintage clothing store located on 260 West Clayton Street. The best part about Atomic is it’s a safe place for people to experiment and try out different looks, she said.
“I thought it was ridiculous that vintage pieces from some stores are either so hard to find or beautiful but very expensive,” Cain said. “I wanted people to find that perfect vintage piece that fits them.”
Viva Wild, Viva Wilde
Cain’s clothing brand is named after her child, Viva Wilde — “with an ‘E.’”
The idea for the name of the brand came to Cain’s mind when she realized as her business was growing, Viva Wilde was also growing in her body.
“I loved the idea of my ‘business baby’ and ‘real baby’ being essentially the same thing,” Cain said.
In the future, Cain hopes to run the brand with Viva Wilde, who is currently five years old and already loves fashion and experimenting with different pieces, from tutus to suits.
“Kids often have a lack of control in their lives, so for Viva, fashion is the one thing that they have control over,” Cain said. “I still buy a lot of their clothes, but more and more, they are telling me what they like.”
One of Cory Cain’s favorite moments is being able to see the two of them interact through fashion.
“When Viva came about, Jennie wanted to encourage them to have fun with fashion,” Cory Cain said. “They both have this unpretentious nature about them, and all they care about is enjoying the experience.”
’60s fashion via the ’90s
Similar to her child, Cain also fell in love with fashion at a young age. When she was 12, her grandparents’ friends often took her to thrift stores and yard sales, where she would find vintage pieces. When her aunt gave her a bunch of clothes from the ’60s and ’70s, she knew she couldn’t go back to anything else.
“With vintage, you can explore a lot of different decades, which I love,” Cain said. “I started to get curious about what society and history was like during the decades that the pieces came from.”
Cain’s favorite fashion decade is the ’90s, but she also loves the revival of ‘60s fashion through the ’90s lens. Some of her favorite pieces include baby doll dresses and sparkly shoes.
Now, fashion still serves as a way for Cain to express herself, and she still loves the idea of dressing up.
“Fashion actually helped me through my early motherhood as I started to go through that period where I was having sort of an identity crisis,” Cain said. “Every time I wasn’t feeling myself as a person, I would put on an outfit and some lipstick, and that helped me get through everything.”