I grew up a blessed and happy child in Northern California, outside of Sacramento. It was there that I discovered some of my great loves in life: music, acting, and thrifting. I really owe it all to my mom. We were cleaning out our garage when I was 7 and found her old violin. This led to violin and then piano lessons. I cried when we were going to take a break from lessons for the summer. My interest in the arts eventually brought me to Shakespeare. There being none whatsoever in the area, my ever brave mother and some friends put up a production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream using only teenagers. This developed into what is now an incredible non-profit youth organization, Take Note Troupe, that benefits hundreds of youth and thousands of community members every year. I started thrifting because we needed costumes and the rest of my fashion life is basically history.
I’ve since earned my BFA in musical theater from BYU (Brigham Young University), married my favorite man out there, toured the world in theatrical productions, discovered a passion for film, written way too much music, became the mother to baby Wilde Hope, and thrifted many a thrift store.
Where did you come up with the idea for 100 Days of Thrifting?
(You can follow Aurora on Instagram to see more of her thrifting ideas @auroraflorence)
We recently relocated to TN from NYC (yes, a very big change). Knowing that I would be leaving a city that I love with lots of opportunities for performers, I knew I would need to have some creative outlets once we got to TN. I have an oddly detailed memory, unless I’m remembering facts for a test of course, and while I was unpacking, my brain was filling up with so many memories surrounding my clothes. This conversation has happened many times:
“That is so cute! Where did you get it?”
“A thrift store.”
“Aw, I never find good stuff when I go. Anyways, I couldn’t pull off that style.”
It got me thinking. Thrifting can actually be quite intimidating and is often a gamble. I have a lot of experience sifting through racks and bins of secondhand clothes and realized that I have some tips I could share. On top of that, getting dressed is a creative process for me and would therefore be an outlet.
I’m developing a project that I hope to launch at the beginning of the year and wanted to get my feet wet in posting regularly, maintaining a voice, and being accountable to an online audience. I saw this as a way to practice and have been pleasantly surprised with how well its been received.
What are some of your best secrets for finding the perfect piece at a thrift store?
- Know your time frame and shop accordingly. If I only have 20 minutes, I start with my favorite section, the dresses.
- Shop by color. Thrift stores are often large and intimidating. If I know I would like to find some kind of red shirt to go with a skirt I have, I’ll start with everything red and see what I find.
- Be confident! I firmly believe that the reason I “pull things off” is simply because I love the clothes that I wear and how they make me feel. Why wouldn’t I wear a shirt that I think is fantastic, even if I wouldn’t find it at H&M today?
What is the best thing you’ve found while thrifting?
Wow, that’s a tough one. Kind of like picking your all-time favorite movie. But if I have to choose, I would say the turquoise wool wiggle dress that I bought for my 14th birthday movie start party (I was Marilyn). It represents so many things I love. My favorite color, the cut, 50’s fashion—the list goes on. It’s also one of my go-to items. I have worn it for auditions, parties, performances, meetings, even to church. But probably the best thing about it is how I feel when I’m wearing it, which is, I think, the most important thing about the way you dress. Does it make you feel amazing? Yes? It’s a winner.
You’re also an actress and singer. Tell us about your performing career.
While I was in college I did a lot of performing on stage but also got into songwriting and film acting. My first film was actually a project headed up by the YouTube sensation, Devin Graham. The whole time I was on set I just kept thinking, “what is this?! I need more. This is where I want to be.” I’ve loved working in film ever since. While in Provo, quite serendipitously my cousin and I were founding members of Imagine Dragons with Dan Reynolds. We eventually split and Dan headed home to Vegas to create what is the Imagine Dragons we all know and love, but it was a great experience and one I learned a lot from. I had done some songwriting before but that really whet my appetite for it. I’ve since released an EP of original music and continue to write (you can find the EP here) One month before graduation and getting married I booked the role of Eliza Doolittle in the National Tour of My Fair Lady. My husband, also an actor, was cast in the ensemble and so we spent the first six months of married life on a tour bus going all over the US. The tour relaunched in Asia last year and getting to do it again was a dream. We’d been living in NYC the last three years, working on shows, commercials and music, prior to moving to TN. Now I’m learning about the great artists and people here, and I am loving the opportunities that have already come.
How do you balance your creative life with your family life?
Well, my family and its members are constantly changing and growing, so our process for finding balance is too. I am no expert, but there are two things that come to mind. When you freelance you are basically your own boss and it’s easy to get out of balance. Whenever I make a list of things that I need to do in a day I put “Jeff & Wilde” in big letters at the top. This reminds me that no matter what else happens in the day, those two are my no. 1 and I can go to bed with peace in my heart knowing I put them first. This will look different for everyone, of course, but I do believe that if we put the important things first, everything else falls into place…eventually. Not that they don’t make sacrifices for me to do what I’ve committed to and love, which leads me to the second thing: sharing the responsibilities of home and baby. When we started out life together, Jeff and I committed to supporting each other as spouses, parents, AND artists. He is getting his MFA in acting which means he is in class most of the day and rehearsal most evenings. But despite that, he finds time to share the household chores responsibility, to cook, and to man bath time so that I can keep up with my career. He even takes a lot of the #100daysofthrifting photos for me and proof reads my posts. It’s not for everyone, but it’s what works for our family. I couldn’t do it without him, and I wouldn’t want to.
How do you find inspiration?
I learn about people that create the quality of work that I want to do. Their journeys remind me that I am on my own path and headed exactly where I want to go. Listening inspires me too. Listening to a friend, music, my baby talk to herself—it invigorates me. And when I’m discouraged, there is nothing that picks me up like practicing. Focusing on one thing and working to improve it shuts out all of the chaos and brings things into perspective for me. The more of life I live, the more I realize one of the keys to being happy is not making excuses. And the best dismissal of an excuse I have found so far is smart, hard work.
What are some of your favorite places in NYC?
- One of my favorite thrift shops in NYC is the Salvation Army on 46th st. and 10th Ave. It’s in the middle of the theater district so there are all sorts of great finds. Plus, there are always costume and fashion designers there who love to tell you about the rare shirt you happened to pick up off the rack.
- If you want to find tons of rarely worn, high end items, go to any of the Goodwills from 96th st. to Canal. They are a little bit pricier, but its like, “OK, I guess I can pay $15 for a Burberry.” On your way down, stop by Union Square and get an ice cream cone from “Sundaes and Cones.” My favorites are Ginger and Lavender.
- If you have extra bucks to spend, the East and West Village have a number of great Vintage shops. And while you are there make a second ice cream stop (can you tell what my favorite food is?) at Morgenstern’s I’m still going through withdrawals.
- My favorite place, or sacred space if you will, in NYC is at the North/East corner of Central Park. It’s the Conservatory Gardens, off of 106th st. & 5th Ave. There are three gardens, French, Italian, and English. Basically growing up outside made living in NYC tough at times, but I could run to Central Park from our apartment and these gardens were my sanctuary. Tulips in the spring, Mums in the fall.
Who are some creative women that you look up to and admire?
- My mom is at the top the list. She has always honored the need she has to create, and in turn cultivated that in our family. Not just that, but she taught me that my creativity is something to be used for more than my own personal interest. Her passion, drive, and commitment to bettering the world through the gifts she has continues to inspire me.
- Audrey Hepburn. We all know her as being lovely and talented, which she was. What many don’t know is that she struggled her entire life with image insecurity, dealt with infertility, walked away from her film career to raise her sons, and later in life was a huge advocate for humanitarian aid. Her vulnerability and courage, on and off screen, is a constant inspiration to me.
- Third on my list (the complete list is quite long) is Twyla Tharp. A pioneer in the dance world, Tharp has brought the powerful medium to many places beyond the concert hall. The principles taught in her book “The Creative Habit” have become foundational for me as an artist and I am inspired by her ever collaborative approach.
What is your favorite thing about being a woman?
Something I love about being a woman is having the emotional sensitivity that comes with the territory, combined with an aptitude for immense courage and strength. It’s what makes women able to be great leaders and compassionate listeners in the same moment.