While working in San Francisco for a small graphic design firm, Leigh Ring was introduced to the edgy and resourceful fashion culture of the West Coast. She frequented the city's many vintage shops and learned to mix pieces from the '50s or '80s with present trends to create one look.
"I became attracted to anything different," says Ring. "My friends and I would clean out our closets twice a month to figure out what we weren't wearing anymore and scour thrift stores and flea markets."
After moving to Cleveland in 2007, Ring decided to put her keen sense for fashion to good use. The 33-year-old opened a vintage boutique, The Rag Refinery, in Ohio City this February.
Ring describes her store as eclectic and thrifty. DIY-style artwork from local artists matches the boutique's selection of clothes that take up only six racks. It may be small, but it's what Ring had in mind.
"I'm not trying to stuff the store and jam it full," she says. "I'm trying to give it a little more of a boutique feel."
The store carries pieces ranging from as early as the '40s to as recent as the '90s, along with present styles with a retro feel such as Navajo purses and elastic belts with eye-catching buckles.
The Rag Refinery also carries accessories such as a handcrafted silver bangle from Indonesia and a royal blue and turquoise vintage gold-plated Karl Lagerfeld bag. It's like shopping in a fashion museum without busting a budget.
"Anyone can really spend anywhere between $20 and $40 and walk out of here with two to three items," Ring says.
Her goal is to create different looks out of resourceful pieces. So you'll find plenty of cowl-neck sweater dresses, tea-length skirts, wool jackets and grunge boots ready for your personal interpretation and inspiration.
"I'm giving these items new life," she says. "Everything is second hand. So in someone's eyes it might be considered a rag, but that is what I'm going to refine."