This Inspired Women feature is super special to me because I got to interview my dear friend and overall badass babe, Vanessa Barcus. Vanessa and I met when I first moved to Denver six years ago. She was running her, then only online, Goldyn from an industrial warehouse on the outskirts of Denver’s RiNo art district where I had an art studio. We met through mutual creative friends and have been home girls ever since. It has been so inspirational to see Vanessa’s vision and passion grow into such a beautiful brick and mortar space in Denver. Her creative eye and bohemian spirit bring so much to the landscape of fashion in Colorado. 

Vanessa and I have bonded over our love of art, fashion and music. We have done New York Fashion Week together. We have escaped to hot springs, enjoyed concerts and had long, inspiring conversations about life together. Somehow we both managed to grace the pages of ELLE magazine’s September issue together this fall… Something I am sure we will still be pinching ourselves over for years to come. But the greatest thing about my relationship with Vanessa is that we both support and inspire each other. Running a business is hard. Running a blog in hard. Being a fine artist is hard. It is so important to have friends who you can talk to, share your experiences with, and lift each other up. Vanessa Barcus is that kind of girl.

I hope you read this interview and feel as inspired as I do.

Follow Vanessa’s shop on Instagram and shop online here!

Tell me about your background, both professionally and personally. 

I’m a Colorado native, though I moved to California for undergrad and graduate school as well as to work in the fashion industry while finishing up my MBA.  I couldn’t stay away from my favorite home state though, so I came back in 2006 for a brief stint in the advertising industry before starting Goldyn.

What inspired you to get into the fashion industry?

I’d always been in love with fashion and the art of adornment from a personal perspective, but it wasn’t until I was given the opportunity to intern for a designer called Trovata while in college that my eyes were opened to the possibility of making it a career.  My experience there was life-changing – those guys went from being a tiny brand staffed solely with the 4 original owners and myself, to winning the CFDA Vogue Fund Award and blowing up before my eyes.  It was a wild ride, and inspiring to say the least!

What was the inspiration behind launching Goldyn?

After I moved back to Colorado, I realized that it was hard to find the more interesting, independent, and fashion-forward designers that I had become acquainted with in LA.  I saw how Denver was growing and becoming more cosmopolitan, though, and I thought perhaps the time was right to introduce a retail concept that could bring these sorts of brands to Denver and the middle states.

 Goldyn initially started as a fully online boutique, was the progression to open a brick and mortar always the plan?

Shortly after we launched the online boutique I did know in the back of my mind that a brick and mortar was probably in the cards.  The numbers always pointed in that direction.  However it was right around then that the recession hit.  So I took my time doing a lot of research and a LOT of aimlessly driving around neighborhoods throughout the Front Range before I found our current location.

You will have been in business for 10 years as of early 2017! That is incredible! How do you see Goldyn evolving in the future?

Thank you!  It’s hard to believe that much time has passed, and I’d be lying if I didn’t say I was proud to have made it 10 years through the worst economy our generation has seen.  I’m proud of who we’ve become as well – a creative hub for the community, a place for women to feel like they can truly be themselves, a home for like-minded independent designers and artists who create consciously and with integrity.  In terms of the future, I really want to continue honing in on that purpose by selectively working with more conscientious designers and less large corporate entities.  I also would love to continue growing our online presence.  More art projects, more fun.  We recently launched our own in-house jewelry collection too, which continues to grow and will definitely be a focus in the coming years.  Beyond that, there are other ideas in my back pocket but nothing I want to divulge right now 😉

What inspires you on a daily basis?

Music and fine art are constant areas of inspiration…I think it’s important to get outside of the box of your own industry sometimes to get a fresh perspective.  I love seeing how a movement in one art form or another can be translated into fashion.  Likewise, subcultures are always a wellspring of ideas.  Nature inspires me, so getting out of the city regularly is very important too.  Travel is also key…. I love people watching and looking at street style no matter where I go, and always take inspiration from that.  Inspiration truly can be anywhere you want it to be, if your mind is open enough.

What are ways you seek to find the work/life balance?

When you own a small business it’s critical to create some boundaries for yourself so that you don’t burn out.  I’m not always great at following my own advice on that, but I do try to carve out time where I’m not on my email or phone, and simply can enjoy life.  Again, getting into nature is KEY to recharging, and luckily we’re surrounded by a good dose of it here in Colorado.  My daily meditation practice also helps keep me sane and is something I can’t live without.

What motivates you professionally?

Helping women discover themselves and express their truest, highest selves through adornment is my main motivation at Goldyn.  It’s so fun to help people push past their own boundaries.  I also absolutely love being around creative types and artists, and brainstorming projects and ways to collaborate.  Eccentrics and weirdos are my favorite kinds of people….they keep life interesting.  Every day I get to work with women who I love, and together we support each other in what we do to form our little community….that alone is motivating.

That is so beautiful! And one of the reasons I love you so much!

What is your favorite part of working within the fashion industry?

While it’s certainly fun to go to fashion week and see what trends are coming up, I think at this point in my career I’m more excited about being able to selectively choose who I work with and surround myself by, and by that I mean not buy into the purely superficial, materialistic side of the industry.  That aspect of this business can be soul sucking.  Together those of us who are like-minded on that level are changing this industry, and that is exciting to me.  I love working with and getting to meet new, interesting people.  On a fundamental level, I do love textiles and jewelry and good design in general, so being able to surround myself in what I love, and touching and feeling that every day, is quite wonderful.

 I know that this answer probably changes but can you share your current favorite designers, both RTW and accessories?

Right now I really am in love with Apiece Apart’s collection of RTW; it’s comprised of pieces that are made to be mixed and matched to form a small and cohesive wardrobe that can be packed into a single suitcase, yet the pieces are far from boring or simple.  And it’s a line designed by two women who are inspired by other strong, independent women like themselves.  My favorite handbags by far are by Building Block – they’re elegant and minimalist yet totally utilitarian and can take a beating.  There’s also so many amazing jewelry designers in here right now, it’s hard to name just one!   This fall I’m particularly excited about Annie Costello Brown’s statement earrings, as well as a new collection of bold silver and brass jewelry by Ariana Boussard-Reifel.

You are also gluten and dairy free. Can you share some of your favorite allergy-friendly restaurants?

I’m so lucky to be in Denver with these food sensitivities!  There are some amazing restaurants that cater to those of us who can’t do gluten or dairy, like Justin Cucci’s group of restaurants including our neighbor Linger, Root Down, and the newly opened Vital Root.  City O City has great vegan options as well, and there is a new spot that just opened up on East Colfax with amazingly tasty vegetarian, vegan and gluten free options called The Goods.  Sushi is also always an option, and there are plenty of excellent institutions here like Sushi Den, Sushi Sasa, as well as newbies Bamboo Sushi and Sushi Ronin around the corner.

What is on your music playlist currently?

 I am a music fanatic, so making playlists for the store is one of my favorite pastimes.  Right now I’m really digging on the new Mothers and Glass Animals albums, plus a lot of the electronic music that I heard at the Arcosanti music festival I went to in the Spring…. acts like Hundred Waters, Dan Deacon and Lydia Ainsworth.  Denver’s local music scene is also really crushing it… some of my personal favorites include Flaural, Sunboy, Rubedo and Oko Tygra.

What books are you reading and/or looking forward to reading?

I always seem to be in the middle of about 5-10 books haha.  Right now I’m finishing up “West of Center: Art and the Counterculture Experiment in America, 1965-1977,” and just finished reading Miranda July’s “It Chooses You,” which I loved.  Next up I think I’ll pick up a copy of “The Alchemist,” because I was recently reminded I never read this classic!

Oh “The Alchemist” is one of the very best ever. So excited for you to read it. I will definitely add “It Chooses You” to the list.

What is your favorite thing about living in Colorado?

Being surrounded by nature, and the people – Coloradans are truly down to earth, friendly folk.

Could you please describe your personal style?

‘Earthy modern,’ with a dose of rock and roll.  Some days I kind of look like your hip middle school art teacher…the one who you suspect probably smokes pot on the weekends but you’ll never know 😉

What does contemporary bohemian mean to you?

The term “bohemian” always calls to mind a fluid, laid-back, easy-going mentality that also speaks to eschewing traditional values, perhaps an essence spirituality and adhering to an alternative lifestyle.  I think that’s relevant today as well as in the past.


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