Meet Vanessa Barcus, Founder Of Goldyn, & Tour Her Denver Shop

"Intelligent adornment for thinking women" – now that's a boutique tagline we can get behind. We asked its creator to explain what it means.
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"Intelligent adornment for thinking women" – now that's a boutique tagline we can get behind. We asked its creator to explain what it means.
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A few months back when we put a call out for women-owned independent retails stores for upcoming tours, Goldyn was atop that list for more than a few who responded - and for good reason. Founder and owner, Vanessa Barcus's commitment to personal style and offering pieces from "designers and artists who create their goods with integrity, sustainability and ethics in mind", in addition to the unique and warm vibe makes it easy to understand why both Vanessa and Goldyn have so many loyal devotees. 

We took a tour of the Denver boutique and spoke with Vanessa about Goldyn's strong focus, what she feels is lacking in the current fashion climate, how endorsing a celebrity centric culture smothers personal style and more. 

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Tell us about the impetus for Goldyn and its evolution. Why did you start an online shop, and how did you take that shop from the digital to a brick and mortar storefront?

Goldyn started from the fact that I had moved back home to Colorado after working in fashion in California, and I realized that there was a void in retail for interesting, independently-owned, fashion-forward designer apparel, not only in Denver, but in the middle states in general. I wanted to give women outside of cities like NYC and LA access to the kinds of unique, artistic brands that I had discovered living in LA. 

Though Goldyn started online with occasional pop-up shops because that allowed us flexibility and a farther reach, I knew pretty early on that we would eventually want to open a brick and mortar store. But, the recession had just hit, and the timing wasn't right. So I took my time researching and driving all around the Denver/Boulder metro area to find the perfect location for our store, which ended up being in the up-and-coming LoHi neighborhood of Denver. 

We really entered the city at a great time. Denver's culture has boomed post-recession and is very open to new ideas and concepts. We've been lucky to grow with the city and form an incredible community of women here.

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Your tagline is "intelligent adornment for thinking women." With that in mind, who is your ideal customer? And whom do you consider a "thinking woman?"

Our ideal customer is a strong, independent woman who knows herself and has a distinct sense of style. She's not afraid to take some risks and is looking to exhibit her inner personality through her adornment. 

Offering "intelligent adornment for thinking women" to me really means offering apparel, accessories and jewelry made by designers and artists who create their goods with integrity, sustainability and ethics in mind, for women who care more than to wear mass-produced, sweatshop-made garments, but rather who get dressed in a conscientious, thoughtful way. Who, like I said, want to showcase their true selves through adornment, and who consciously choose to spend their money on clothing made by hand and made by artists who are also designing consciously. 

It's a healthier cycle of consumerism in which like-minded women (one might even use the word "woke" women) can support each other. I think everyone feels more beautiful from the inside out that way, which in the end is really our goal.

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What do you think is missing in women's fashion today? What would you like to see change, and how do you plan to implement those changes in your store?

I'd really love to see this current celebrity-obsessed culture come to an end…I think what's been missing in recent years, that is indeed starting to shift, is a focus more on bringing out the creativity and individuality of all women, rather than trying to manipulate customers into feeling that they need to emulate a celebrity or blindly follow trends. 

We certainly try to embody this philosophy at the shop, which I think starts with not endorsing celebrity culture and with truly listening to our customers when they come in and working with them in a more holistic manner so that we help them find items that really reflect their own inner style.

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Since you have both a thriving physical storefront and a loyal online following, how important is your local community to your business? What do you love most about being a small business in Denver?

There's nothing better than connecting to women in real life, as much as having the website allows for convenience and a farther reach. A huge impetus for having our brick and mortar shop was to be able to build community, because that is where women, culture and art thrive. 

What I especially love about Denver is the supportiveness of the local creative community. People are really interested in helping each other succeed to collectively make our city a better place, and that feels great.

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Where do you find inspiration for the shop, the website, life and otherwise?

Most of my inspirations come from my other loves – music, fine arts, and travel chiefly among them. I find that I really need to get out of my own bubble of fashion to really feel inspired and get the creative juices flowing. 

One of my favorite things is to travel and just take in the local people and culture and experience their food and dress and music. I think I must have been an anthropologist in another lifetime. 

In general I'd say my favorite people to get inspired by are the weirdos and eccentrics...they make life more interesting ;)

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What are some of the Goldyn pieces or items you are currently coveting?

I'm very excited about the new knitwear from Gudrun & Gudrun that we just got in…it's designed by two women in the Faroe Islands who employ Syrian refugees and a collective of female knitters from Jordan, Peru and the Faroe Islands as a part of their women's empowerment initiative. And just because their line has a feel-good story doesn't mean the designs are not super interesting and fashion-forward, too! I also really love the bold, statement silver and brass jewelry made by NYC designer Ariana Boussard-Reifel, who is a very like-minded, badass female, too.

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You have been in business for 10 years, which is quite a feat! What is on the horizon for Goldyn in 2018?

In 2018 I'm looking forward to connecting back with myself, to be honest, and to starting a new chapter in my life with my fiancé, whom I got engaged to over the holidays! He's an amazing human, and we're both very excited for our journey together.

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