When Camille Nichelini and Yuka Iwasaki started selling their collection of vintage home goods on Instagram, they didn’t expect it to turn into a full-time job. Nichelini, 24, and Iwasaki, 34, are neighbors in Los Angeles who met on Instagram a few years ago through their involvement in fashion (Nichelini worked in visual merchandise, while Iwasaki worked in design).
“I think what we have in common and what bonded us is that we were always thrifting all the time,” Iwasaki says. “We loved thrifting so much we would always buy extras of things or find extras of things. It got to be a problem at some point.”
In March 2020, Nechilini started the Instagram account @residentobjects in hopes that she might be able to use it as a platform to resell some of the vintage home goods she had been collecting. She ran it mostly as a hobby, and when Iwasaki had a few items of her own she was hoping to resell, Nichelini suggested she list them on Resident Objects as well. The account’s following started to grow, and Iwasaki, who had recently been laid off from her day job, began focusing more of her attention on it.
“I had the time to look for items, and not just [sell] things I didn’t want anymore,” Iwasaki says. “Maybe like a month in is when things just started selling in minutes.”
Customers can find an eclectic mix of pastel 80s and 90s vintage homegoods on the Instagram page, from swan-shaped candy dishes to light-up Italian furniture. Iwasaki and Nichelini describe their aesthetic as a mix between “eighties Golden Girls and Miami Vice,” gravitating toward bright pastel colors and kitschy knick knacks, which they say are usually their top sellers. It’s a stark shift from the neutral-toned minimalism that until recently dominated interior design, especially on Instagram.
“With maximalism, there’s no right or wrong. You get a bookshelf you like, and you can literally put 100 items on there,” Iwasaki says. “Nothing has to make sense or go with each other. You just kind of put your favorite things on there, and things that make you happy when you look at them every day.”
Resident Objects’s signature style, which Nichelini and Iwasaki say is heavily influenced by their fashion backgrounds (both graduated from FIDM), struck a nerve with people suddenly spending all of their free time in their homes. The account now has over 100,000 followers, and items sell via Instagram DM in a matter of seconds. The duo source all of their objects from local estate sales and thrift shops, and partially credit their success to the way they shoot and style their product photos.
“I think what people like about it is that we are very personal about it,” Nichelini says. “Almost all of our posts are inside our actual houses. So the content that we post for people to purchase is straight out of our own homes, which gives people inspiration on how to style it in their own space.”
Like many people facing down colder months with potential lockdowns looming, Iwasaki and Nichelini started thinking about Halloween early, as a distraction from the pandemic.
“I’ve always had a really strong kinship with Halloween,” says Iwasaki, whose birthday falls on October 31. “Ever since I was little I was obsessed with everything to do with Halloween because of that.”
“Old vintage Halloween decor, it was sooo good back then, like 90s, early 2000s, and they just don’t make stuff like that anymore,” Nichelini says. “So we were like, we should put together a really cool Halloween collection so people can start reviving the fun, weird Halloween decor in their lives every year.”
They sifted through thrift stores, estate sales and Craigslist, and found spooky candle sticks and salt and pepper shakers they knew their customers would love. They wanted the items they were selling to be the sort of pieces that will last in a household forever, and have a shelf-life that extends past October.
“We really gravitate toward nice, vintage ceramic pieces, handmade and hand painted,” Nichelini said. They stayed away from the plastic, semi-disposable decorations that can be found at big box stores and left out on the curb at the end of the month.
For people looking to source their own vintage Halloween decorations, they suggest spending time at thrift stores, which often have a section of holiday decorations depending on the time of year.
“You gotta pick through it and see if there’s any good quality pieces in there,” Nichelini says. They prioritize handmade items, and anything that is signed and dated. “Something signed with a date is the best, because you kind of have a little bit of a back story to it, it’s not just some mysterious piece from who-knows-when,” Nichelini says.
Iwasaki and Nichelini have now sold most of their Halloween items, but are looking forward to doing more specialized collections. They have a few collaborations coming up, and are starting to work on their own product line.“I’ve always loved interior design, so that’s kind of where this account came from,” Nichelini said. “It came from a loved place.”