May 31, 2014 • Posted in travel, Uncategorized by

My friend Nicole Dotto left Chicago this past week to move closer to her family in California, and I’m sure going to miss her.

That's me as Annie Hall, thanks to Nicole.

That’s me as Annie Hall, thanks to Nicole.

Loyal blog readers might recognize Nicole’s name from a 2013 guest post she wrote here after Mike and I were invited to a costume ball for Mardi Gras. The theme of the party was “Hollywood” and Nicole helped me put together a costume. Nicole and I met as volunteers for Sit Stay Read here in Chicago. She runs an online vintage shop called DOTTO on Etsy and has a whole lot of handsome and classic items for sale there, along with what she affectionately calls “interesting train wreck pieces” (she tells me a lot of those are thanks to the colorful 1980s).

Nicole is moving her Etsy business with her to California, but before she left Chicago she was interviewed for a piece about her shop on the etsy blog. The story was on the Etsy front page for two days — a huge deal as far as Etsy goes.<!–more–>

She was pleased that Etsy included pictures of items from her store along with some behind-the-scenes shots of her Chicago apartment, but she did have one complaint. “They totally cropped one photo that had my cat employee snoozing on the ground next to me while I was taking shop photos,” she told me. “The nerve!”

In the Etsy interview, Nicole said that while in Chicago the past three years she lived and worked in a studio apartment and grew to love all parts of running her shop: finding clothing, cleaning, mending, measuring, editing, shipping, and answering questions. She models most of the outfits she sells on her ETSY site, too, an in the ETSY interview she claims she “can take photos with a timer like no one’s business.”

A story in the Lincoln Park Village newsletter this month by Bonnie Keplinger described Millennials like Nicole as:

  • over 80 million strong in the US
  • born roughly between 1980 and 2001
  • self-directed
  • tech-savvy
  • confident
  • multi-tasking
  • upbeat

The Lincoln Park Village article said that if you’re a Millennial, your life-style and friends trump your work. “They aim to change the policies of corporate America to achieve better work-life balance: Hello meaningful, collaborative work and transparency; goodbye performance reviews and 60 hour work weeks.”

Nicole told me that starting her own small business and relying on it as a sole source of income from the start never felt like a huge risk to her. She gives a lot of credit to her family and friends who encouraged and supported her along the way and hopes others will consider opening their own small online businesses. “It can sound terrifying, but I want everyone to know that they can do this kind of thing, too.”

That's Nicole modeling the 'WHO WOULD WEAR THIS?' kind of thing she carries in her online vintage shop. (sorry, folks. It's sold.)

That’s Nicole modeling the ‘WHO WOULD WEAR THIS?’ kind of thing she carries in her online vintage shop. (sorry, folks. It’s sold.)

I can’t vouch for the photos — you’ll have to link to the ETSY blog post and check them out yourself. I can tell you that the interview paints a beautiful picture of Nicole, though, and will end here with her answer to a question about what she loves most about having her own shop on ETSY:

I love the fact that DOTTO allows me to call the shots, give new life to clothing that otherwise might be discarded, pretend that I have the grandest closet in all the land, meet people from around the world, and put cats in my pictures, but what I really love about it is the glorious flexibility it affords me. I joined the Peace Corps after college because I wanted a broader perspective of the world, and I’ve continued volunteering in some way ever since. Having my days free lets me volunteer around Chicago a couple of times a week, which is truly what I love to do. I have working limbs and my wits about me; there is no reason I shouldn’t be helping others as much as I can.

Carla On May 31, 2014 at 8:48 pm

Your friend Nicole is something else. I checked out the Etsy thing….no wonder you will miss her.

bethfinke On June 1, 2014 at 9:05 pm

That’s high praise for Nicole, coming from a photographer like yourself. I’ll let her know she has a new fan –thanks for the comment.


NICOLE On June 1, 2014 at 8:48 pm


bethfinke On June 1, 2014 at 9:08 pm

What a coincidence. You are my love, too.


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