Designer of the Week - Nana's Trunk

This week meet Shirlene Perini of Nana's Trunk Boutique. She lives in the South Jersey shore. She has 3 grown children and 2 granddaughters from her daughter.

See Shirlene's current eBay auctions: nanas*trunk*boutique and add nanas*trunk*boutique to your favorite eBay sellers list: Click Here:

JM: Shirlene, when did you get started sewing and creating?

SHIRLENE: Many people don't believe it, but I've been sewing since I was 2 years old! I was intrigued with my mother's embroidery work and begged her to let "me do it!" She stamped a little embroidery transfer for me and taught me how to move the needle in and out of the fabric. My mother even saved my first "project", and I have it mounted in a scrapbook. LOL...after that first lesson she bought me sewing cards! I must have scared the daylights out of her...just imagine a 2-year-old with a needle!!!!!

But with that first lesson, the creativity "bug" bit hard! Both my mother and grandmother were avid needleworkers, and my early training came from them. By junior high I was making my own clothes. Mom would buy large packages of "surprise" fabric lengths through Sears' or Wards' catalog. She always got the bigger pieces and fancier fabrics, so often I was left with a yard of this 'n that. I learned very quickly how to get a simple A-line dress out of one yard. Fortunately the fashion taste of the 60's accomodated that style!

After marriage, I became passionate about learning as many techniques and skills as possible. I never wanted my creations to look homemade, so I taught myself many needlecrafts and couture techniques through books and questioning other seamstresses. My daughter has saved many things I made for her, and she puts them on her daughters now.

JM: When did you start selling your designs on eBay and do you sell anywhere else besides eBay?

SHIRLENE: I started selling my designs on eBay in July 2003. I had been selling collectibles on eBay for a couple of years already, but though my husband encouraged me to try selling my handwork, I never thought it would sell. Somehow I stumbled across some auctions by Stitchinchicks, and I was so impressed with their professionalism, creativity and enthusiasm for boutique auctions. That was the inspiration I needed!

I also have my own website. The few custom items I make come mostly from there, but all my new creations go on eBay first.

JM: Do you remember the first outfit you sold on eBay?

SHIRLENE: Yes, actually, once I decided to sell my designs, I listed 3 auctions at the same time. They all sold between $20 and $30, and I was just delighted that someone liked my creations! One set was a little sundress and pantaloons from vintage hankies.

JM: How did come up with your name, Nana's Trunk?

SHIRLENE: As a little girl I was intrigued with old trunks and the vintage clothing and linens tucked away inside. It was my dream to find an old trunk in an attic somewhere full of fabulous dress-up clothes. I thought it would be like finding a treasure chest full of treasures! So, as an adult, I began collecting vintage pieces. The incredible handwork that went into some of them just overwhelms me! I love perserving little bits of a woman's skill in my creations.

Becoming a "Nana" was really exciting for me...especially since our first grandchild was a girl and I could sew for her!!! Thus, the name Nana's Trunk was an instant decision for me.

JM: Do you belong to any boutique group?

SHIRLENE: I was a founding member of The LOFT and I truly enjoyed the friends I made in that group. Recently, however, we decided to disband, so I am now solo. I don't know yet if I'll stay that way, seek another group, or start another. For right now I'm just gonna have fun creating!

JM: Do you have a favorite item to create?

SHIRLENE: Wow! This is a tough question! I love EVERYTHING! I think that's what I love so much about the day and age we live in....there's so much variety in fashion. I do have a real passion for vintage styles, however. I collect patterns from the late 1800's through the 1950's, and it's a blast getting ideas from old movies. I really love mixing styles!

JM: What other things do you enjoy besides sewing?

SHIRLENE:My family! Though our children are grown, we're all still very close....we're really best friends! We love family gatherings, going to the beach, eating out, seeing movies, playing games, shopping... just being together! One of our favorite things in having impromptu "jam" sessions. husband and son-in-law can make instruments out of almost anything!!! And the grandbabies love it....they join in by singing and dancing!

JM: What was your first job? How much did you earn?

SHIRLENE:Besides babysitting and strawberry picking, I took a temp job in high school. I had to file a huge stack of flyers for an electrical/telephone company. I never fully understood the filing system, and the info was completely Greek to me! My boss thought it would take me 2 weeks, but I had it done in 5 days...mainly because there was no one else in the office to talk to and nothing to do on my breaks!!!! It wasn't fun, but it was my first paycheck...I think I made minimum wage which was somewhere around $1.75 and hour. LOL....since I was so shy, it was just embarrassing to be a little girl in an office full of burly electricians!

JM: If you could learn some new skills, what would they be?

SHIRLENE: There's always so much more to learn! I'd love to learn to make bobbin lace and other ancient lacemaking skills....I'd love to make shoes!....I want to improve my pattern drafting skills...I want to learn more couture techniques. If it has to do with fashion, I want to learn it!!!

JM: Anything else you would like to add?

SHIRLENE:Thank you Amy, for this opportunity! Journal Modiste is one of my favorite sites...It is an incredible idea which provides a wonderful service for all designers. You're such a creative and generous lady!

And a big THANK YOU to my customers!!! Without you I could not do what I love so much!

Do you have a question that you are dying to ask SHIRLENE? Comment about something she said or designed? Post it here and she will answer it!

Leave a comment:

Enter security code: 9559 >>>


Rebecca Rowntree | Sunday, December 4, 2005 11:50 AM | flag

Rebecca Rowntree | Sunday, December 4, 2005 11:36 AM | flag
I am a photographer and looking for designers to photograph for. Thank you. Rebecca

| Thursday, November 24, 2005 6:56 PM | flag
Great interview Shirlene!!!!! :) We LOVE your designs! Ousa

Kristin | Wednesday, November 23, 2005 6:12 AM | flag
Just love your story and that hanky jacket is a wonderful design and such a great use of vintage materials!

Amy | Tuesday, November 22, 2005 1:07 PM | flag
I bought an outfit that Shirlene made and the sewing is impeccable. We love this outit and my daughter Ellie wears it all the time!

Toni | Tuesday, November 22, 2005 1:32 AM | flag
Love your designs. Great interview! :D

Some past Nana's Trunk Designs

To view past Designers of the Week
Click Here

Our Sponsors