Dakota Jeane Hilton, the founder and owner of Frockify, pictured in her personal studio located in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo by Abigail Spong)
A vintage shop adapts from New York, to Phoenix, to online
From rummaging through thrift stores while on the road with her all-women motorcycle drill team, to owning a full-fledged vintage store, Dakota Jeane Hilton is growing the sustainable fashion industry in the Valley.
The working woman-turned-entrepreneur, Hilton, owns and curates the Phoenix-based vintage fashion boutique, Frockify. Frockify originated in New York City during the summer of 2015 when Hilton found herself without a job after her company fired her right before going under.
“I was never fired in my life,” Hilton said. “It was such a weird thing for me to go through. I love to work. I’m a workaholic.”
After receiving unemployment and contemplating her next move, Hilton said she decided to sell some of her own vintage pieces for some extra cash.
Hilton has been collecting vintage clothing since she was 8 years old and stockpiled a bulk of her collection while on the road with the Hardly Angels, an all-women motorcycle drill team.
“We got to travel a lot and every time we went to a place I just wanted to go thrift shopping. I just loved the idea of a dirty little place and having to dig through and find cool stuff,” Hilton said.
After jumping from Los Angeles to New York City multiple times, Hilton found her way back to Phoenix in 2016 where she previously attended Fountain Hills High School and Arizona State University.
Just one year after bringing her business to the Valley, the Phoenix New Times awarded Frockify the title of “2017s Best New Vintage Clothing Boutique,” an award that Hilton said was a major validation of the hard work she completed in only two years.
Mike Hilton, Dakota’s husband and business partner, said Frockify stands out from the countless number of vintage and thrift shops in Phoenix because of Dakota’s unmatched passion.
“When we first started she would get genuinely sad when she would sell a piece because it meant so much to her,” Mike said. “She really does care passionately about what she’s doing and her vision of being able to move forward in promoting sustainable fashion.”
With a long history of sales and retail experience under her belt, Hilton said vintage clothing is the most “green” form of fashion.
“For established brands it can be really hard to change what you do, but it’s important,” Hilton said. “Fast fashion is really rough on the environment, so to be able to sell vintage clothing and know that it’s sustainable is a good feeling.”
Kim Ho, a Frockify client and part-time Phoenix-based fashion blogger, said looking to vintage and consignment can help one not accumulate an overabundance of clothing while preventing someone from breaking the bank.
“I think there’s a treasure hunt feel involved with (vintage shopping) because another thing that I love about finding things vintage, consignment or secondhand is that no one’s going to have it,” Ho said. “You can’t just run to the store and get that piece.”
The Phoenix-based fashion connoisseur Ho said she loves that vintage clothing forces a person to be a little bit more creative and in control of his or her own style.
Although the conversation and excitement surrounding sustainable fashion is prevalent among her clients, Hilton said she just recently made the difficult decision of closing her brick and mortar location in Phoenix’s Melrose shopping district.
“The biggest complication was getting people to come to the shop,” Hilton said. “All of my traffic was from me posting on Instagram and online and then people would say, ‘I’m coming in to buy that,’ so there wasn’t really a need for me to have a storefront.”
Hilton and her husband have since built a small studio in the backyard of their home in downtown Phoenix where she takes personal shopping appointments via the Frockify website.
“I still have the ability to sell online and then participate in all the fleas and pop ups I can,” she said. “That’s the future of retail, at least for me.”