+ By Desiree Smith-Daughety + Photos by Mary Ella Jourdak
Kismet brought together Erica Kagan and Sarah Taylor, proprietors of All the Rage Vintage. They met three years ago, while renting their own individual spaces in a three-level building in Ellicott City. Kagan sold vintage clothing, and Taylor sold her own artwork. When the landlord abruptly ended the building’s leases, 40 vendors had to scramble for new space. Taylor suggested to Kagan that they get a space together, and they found a location on West Street in the Annapolis Arts District. They could have chosen a lot of towns, but, as Taylor says, “Being in the Arts District spoke to me.”
On September 1, 2022, they received keys to their new space and officially opened on November 12. But before opening, they wanted to personalize the space, and Taylor convinced Kagan that they could make it “groovy.” They built fixtures, painted walls, brainstormed ideas, and bonded. “We finish each other’s sentences,” says Taylor. “She [Taylor] is my alter ego, gregarious. I’m behind the scenes,” says Kagan. “We’re two creative halves of the same brain. She’s such a giving person, and I never had someone whose ego didn’t get in the way.”
They learned to draw from and lean on each other’s strength. “She’s so humble but has quiet confidence,” says Kagan of Taylor. When creating her own clothing pieces, Kagan previously held herself back and didn’t think of herself as an artist. But Taylor encouraged her in her artistry, and now the shop offers swimsuits, flip-flops, and high-top sneakers featuring Kagan’s designs.
Different paths brought them together. Kagan is British/Welsh and professes to having always loved art and fashion. She began but didn’t finish art school. Her creative inspirations include her brother Ian, who was a drag queen; her mother, whom Kagan describes as always dressed “loud and amazing” when going out; and her father—his blue velvet jacket is a standout memory. Growing up wearing school uniforms, Kagan recalls shopping for an upcoming dance at age 13. Her mother urged her, “Get what you want, express yourself!” and she took that advice. “At first, people laughed at me, but then I became accidentally cool.” She remains inspired by her brother, who embraced life with bravery and passed away six years ago. When her marriage dissolved as the pandemic geared up, Kagan reexamined things. “I always loved color. I decided I’m not going to tone myself down anymore. Now, we’re showing women how great they can look.”
Taylor says of Kagan, “This is what I love about Erica: knowing style, what will work for someone. That’s a gift, to help customers build their confidence.” “As women, we’ve had it hard, told what to wear,” adds Kagan. “Well, wear what you want, when you want. When someone connects with their personal style, they glow!”
Taylor’s path included going to college despite not having good school experiences due to being dyslexic. A turnaround came in her junior year. “I took an elective class in art . . . I got an A. I’d never had an A before!” she says. “I changed my major from business to art, based on that one class.” She married and set aside artistic ambitions until her children were older. Then she began, as she describes it, dabbling in art again. When she had the opportunity to display some pieces in a local restaurant and they immediately sold, she says, “It was like getting an A again!”
While the pair can point to different inspirations, from family members to rock icons, they agree on who their muses are. “Each other,” they say, simultaneously.
All the Rage Vintage’s vibe leans heavily into the 1960s and ’70s, attributed to Kagan’s wanting to be a rock star (but unable to play an instrument). The store offers a range of vintage items covering almost a century of eras, with clothing from the 1930s to the aughts, housewares, and furniture. “These pieces are all waiting for their next person,” Kagan says. “We’re fostering pieces,” adds Taylor.
They don’t want their store to look like an old antiques shop. Instead, they want people to move through an ever-changing design for flow, rekindling memories and creating new ones. “We have meaningful conversations that often include hugs,” says Kagan. Customers often share moments of nostalgia, telling stories surrounding items that sparked the memories. “The store is an experience, a destination,” says Taylor.
Customers range from teenagers to grandparents, many of whom visit and spend time together—there’s enough diverse selection to appeal to all ages. Items are sourced from estate sales, auctions, and—though they don’t engage in consignment—occasionally customers.
The space is designed so that shoppers can feel like rock stars, with signature pieces to choose from to set them apart from the crowd. One dressing area resembles what a greenroom behind a stage might look like, outfitted with comfortable seating and a huge mirror. Customers are encouraged to sit on the furnishings that Taylor has selected for sale to make themselves at home. “We want people to feel comfortable shopping, feel relaxed,” says Kagan.
Taylor and Kagan’s current vision is to have a vintage market in the Annapolis Arts District. Kagan has experience with vintage pop-ups in Baltimore, and they would like to see 30 or so vendors come together, twice a year, drawn from Annapolis, Baltimore, and Philadelphia. Their ideas keep flowing, with plans to continue taking brave steps and forging new connections in the local community.
“In business, it’s so important to change and grow, learn from community feedback, and evolve, says Taylor. “That’s what helps you stay in business. We call this the ‘Year of Ian.’” █