Meet Ghost Soda Visionary, Hannah Valentine

Meet Ghost Soda Visionary, Hannah Valentine

Hello, my name is Hannah Valentine, and I've been selling and reworking vintage and secondhand clothing for the past 5 years under my brand name, Ghost Soda. With the launch of my website and transition from selling on Depop to my own website, I wanted to start a blog to document my story, journey, difficulties, and successes with my brand! I am also a full-time college student double majoring in fashion design and art and design, so I'd love to fill you in on my education journey as well! I may send out a blog post once a month or once a week, I'm not sure yet, but I will be sure to keep you all in the Ghost Soda loop!

So, welcome to my website, and here's my story:

When I was young, most of my clothes came from thrift stores or garage sales, and I was raised on buying secondhand clothing from a young age. I remember one of the first things I've ever thrifted a Barbie workout VHS tape from a local thrift store called Family Thrift! My mom and I would prowl garage sales, thrift stores, and church rummage sales for deals, so I want to thank my mom for my instinctive thrifty-ness! I also began drawing and painting at a young age as well; I was always doodling and painting growing up and deemed as "the artsy kid" in grade school. I was raised to be an artist and a thrifter!

At the age of 5, I was diagnosed with Systemic Scleroderma, a chronic, incurable, autoimmune illness that has given my life many challenges. I deal with chronic pain everyday, and the medications I've taken over the years have weakened my body. Throughout middle school and high school, the enamel on my teeth was destroyed due to the medication I was taking, I was underweight and couldn't gain weight due to the medication, and overall I just had a sickly appearance growing up. 

When I turned 16, all my friends were getting "normal" jobs while I couldn't because I was taking a heavy medication that left me bedridden in pain for days at a time. Only 2-3 days of the week during my entire high school experience did I feel "well", let alone feel good enough to get a "normal" job. So, I decided to try working for myself, and I got into selling vintage and thrifted clothing that I occasionally reworked into brand new, funky pieces. I started by selling clothes from my own closet that I didn't wear on an app called Depop, and from there I fell in love with every aspect of running a clothing business.

I was on chemotherapy ages 5-19 to treat my Systemic Scleroderma, and during those years I suffered muscle pain, joint pain, and migraines as side effects from the medication. As I got older, the joint pain and migraines just got worse, mostly in part due to the medication I was taking at the time that was suppressing my immune system, a low-dose form of weekly chemotherapy.

Getting to rest when I need to, working at my own pace, and being able to turn a hobby into a job are just a few of the many reasons why I love selling clothes online and being my own boss. In December 2019, I went into remission (which meant no more heavy medicine which meant no more migraines!!!!!!), and I just completely launched myself into my business. I started making more custom items like screen-printing shirts with my designs on them, painting my favorite cartoon characters on denim jeans, sewing letters from t-shirts onto other shirts to make words, and so many other spurts of random DIY clothing projects. The time that I would've spent sick in bed from medication, I now spent DIYing, painting, sourcing, making posts on social media, listing, photographing, printing, shipping, and doing so many other fun small business things I couldn't do previously. After months of hard work, I became a Top Seller on Depop in July 2020, and I was never more proud of myself.

After about a year and a half of being a Top Seller on Depop, I had gotten extremely sick at the end of 2021; For months, I was battling a fungal infection in my throat (yes, its worse than it sounds and extremely painful) and I had also gotten covid-19. With the debilitating pain I was experiencing because of these two illnesses, I wasn't able to keep up with the requirements to be a Top Seller on Depop, so I lost my Top Seller status. I was very upset, but little did I know that it would be a blessing in disguise and was a stepping stone to creating my website!

Also around this time, Depop was bought out by another selling platform, Etsy. After this occurred, a rainfall of glitches and issues reigned over the app, so much so that it was barely functional. Constant crashes, tapping a notification and being taken to the app store (NOT the Depop app), selling items and Depop wouldn't mark it as sold so it would sell twice, etc. The app had evolved into a platform that was the opposite of user-friendly for buyers and sellers alike. With the growing of Ghost Soda and the Depop glitches, I knew in my heart that it was time to say goodbye to Depop. I had outgrown the platform, and it was time to make my own website. 

So that brings us to today, the day I'm writing this blog post, November 17, 2022. I officially closed my Depop yesterday (only posting exclusive vintage on there), and I am in the process of photographing, uploading, and building my website! By the time you read this, it may be up and running (I hope I did a good job, lol)!  So, welcome to Ghost Soda, a website that is user-friendly, size inclusive, and slow fashion. I am so eager to see where this brand will take me, and thank you for being a part of it! 

Throughout the years, I've experimented with customizing and creating new alternative clothing in so many ways like screen-printing my own designs onto thrifted clothing, cutting letters from t-shirts and sewing them onto other t-shirts to make cool words and phrases, tie-dying, and crocheting! I've gotten into making bondage pants and shorts with chains, straps, and other punk stuff. I also love making skirts out of men's neckties! Sustainability is the most important part when it comes to my clothing brand: I do my best to make sure all of my materials I use in my designs are secondhand or thrifted. The fast fashion industry is absolutely destructive to our planet, and I don't want my brand to contribute to the waste, child labor, slave labor, and so many other horrible things that fast fashion endorses. I am proud of every accomplishment I've ever achieved regarding my brand, because I know I work paid off and I did it completely by myself. To being featured in Grav3yardgirl's videos on YouTube to reaching over 22,200 followers on instagram, I know I built this brand from the ground up myself, and that's the most fulfilling and proud feeling ever. The fact that despite my diagnoses, chronic pain, and mental illnesses I still continue to work hard every day and not take a day for granted, I think that sets me apart from other brands. Being able to push through rock bottom and come out the other side even stronger just shows how motivated and capable I am of doing anything I set my mind to!

 

The most important lesson I've learned along my journey is to be thankful for everything. I am thankful for my good health. I am thankful for the roof over my head. I am thankful for my ability to run a successful small business and the community I've built online. I spent so many years of my life on a horrible medication that restricted me to my bed for 3 days a week in pain, not being able to even turn over in bed without full body pain and racing migraines. But, the day the doctors told me I was in remission and I no longer had to take that medication, I knew I had so many things I wanted to do, now pain-free. This freedom from my medication has left me strong, independent, and thankful for every day I go without that medication. Being healthy enough to go into remission, run a successful small business, and being able to experience life to the absolute fullest is just indescribable. 

Thank you for listening to me, and thank you for being a part of Ghost Soda! <3

Keep it creamy, Hannah Valentine 

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