When Tatiana Veneruso leaves her home, she’s hardly ever underdressed — unless it’s to go to her local CVS Pharmacy.
When Veneruso’s “done up,” you can find her in secondhand clothing and bold accessories, such as statement earrings, sunglasses and maybe even a scarf from her collection of “a couple hundred.”
Collecting for ‘Norman & Norma’
Veneruso’s love for secondhand clothing comes from her love of collecting, whether it’s for clothes or vintage knick-knacks.
In September 2018, Veneruso and her boyfriend Nathaniel Mitchell started their brand Norman & Norma, where they sell vintage goods from clothing to home décor and other items on Etsy, Instagram and at Atomic, the vintage clothing store located on West Clayton Street.
The brand is inspired by Mitchell’s grandparents — Norman and Norma — who were also big collectors.
“It was always funny that their names went together so well because it seemed like they were really destined to be with each other,” Veneruso said.
When Mitchell’s grandparents died a few years ago, they left behind a large collection of vintage items dating back to the late ’40s in their New Hampshire home, so Veneruso and Mitchell loaded a U-Haul truck and drove everything back to Athens to help the items find a new home.
Mitchell was also “born a picker.” When he was younger, he always went to thrift stores with his mother, although his passion for collecting didn’t develop until the rock band Nirvana “made thrift shopping cool.” Now, he’s excited to be able to partner up with Veneruso to share his passion.
Heels and a diaper
Veneruso’s interest in fashion was cultivated through Barbie dolls and her mother’s closet. She fell in love with accessorizing at a young age and her style hasn’t changed much since.
“Every picture from when I was a toddler was always me in my mom’s heels, a big hat and a diaper — that’s it,” Veneruso said.
Now, Veneruso likes to take inspiration from silhouettes of the ’20s and ’30s, as well as bright colors and patterns from the ’60s. However, she also has more modern pieces in her closet, which she likes to mix in with the old.
Veneruso’s love for fashion shows through her closet, which is actually just a flamingo pink bedroom that’s been repurposed to hold her clothing and accessories.
“It almost feels like walking into a 12-by-12 little boutique store that has all the best stuff,” Mitchell said.
Lots of Veneruso’s vintage pieces also include her mother’s clothing. Her mother passed away nine years ago, but Veneruso still keeps her clothes around to “keep the memory alive.”
“It’s a way for me to keep that connection with my mom because I borrowed stuff from her when I was little, and I’m still doing it now,” Veneruso said.
Cultivating a secondhand closet
When shopping, Veneruso always shops second hand because she doesn’t like the idea of wearing something someone else owns.
“I can walk into a mall and see a cute dress, but I’ll see like five of them and I think about who else owns it,” Veneruso said.
Veneruso rarely likes to wear anything twice, and shopping second hand allows her to be more cost-effective and environmentally friendly because she’s preventing clothes from going directly to landfills.
In addition to having secondhand clothing, Veneruso’s closet also features a pegboard holding her necklaces and other jewelry. Before the pegboard, most of her jewelry would sit on top of her dresser, which she would call “a pile of pirate treasure.”
Veneruso believes in the power of finding a one-of-a-kind piece through vintage stores, and she hopes to convey the message through her brand as well.
“I always say you don’t have to spend a lot of money to look really cool,” Veneruso said. “Sometimes I sell really nice vintage pieces but I’ll also find a $1 T-shirt and wear it with some other amazing find.”