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Multicultural Roots Project

The Multicultural Roots Project was created to increase visibility for Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC) in Sonoma County, with a particular focus on Santa Rosa; and to recognize, through historical stories from BIPOC, contributions and impacts that have shaped Santa Rosa and Sonoma County. Working with local historians and community partners, Community Engagement staff gather stories and facts about local BIPOC leaders, as well as historical events and places that have shaped Santa Rosa and Sonoma County into what it is today. Each month, we will share five of these stories with the public through multiple communication channels, including the City’s website, social media and this newsletter.

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May 10

Melvin Encarnacion: Finding Style Through Sustainability

Posted on May 10, 2022 at 2:31 PM by Kevin King


Melvin Encarnacion is a young entrepreneur and owner of Melvintage Thrifts in Santa Rosa. He also sells his vintage finds on Depop and at local markets all over northern California, including SoCo Market held in downtown Santa Rosa and downtown Cotati.  

Melvin was born in Torrance, CA and raised in Carson, CA. He became interested in thrifting vintage finds when he was 14 years old, realizing he had an appreciation for older styles of clothing. He spent his free time hunting down vintage goods at thrift stores and flea markets. At the suggestion of his family, Melvin went to nursing school to pursue his LVN degree after high school, but at the age of 19, after a year and a half of going to school and thrifting on the side, he decided to pursue thrifting and re-selling vintage clothing.  

Melvin initially moved to Santa Rosa in 2018 to be with his girlfriend and had a job offer lined up through Finish Line. After working there for a year, he decided that he would turn his love of thrifting into a full-time business with a brick-and-mortar store after successfully selling online on websites like eBay, Mercari, Poshmark, and Depop. Melvin took a huge leap with his business at the end of 2019 with the decision to pursue thrifting full-time. He opened Melvintage, which will celebrate its first anniversary at its Guerneville Road location near Coddingtown Mall on July 24, 2022. 

Pursuing this unique career has not been without challenges. The first challenge for Melvin was working up the courage to go for it and to tell his family that he would pursue a career that his parents did not originally have in mind for him. “It was hard at first to tell my parents, but after a while they started seeing the income from what I was doing for this. And then I told them that I have my own shop now, and then they finally got convinced...You don't want to be stuck doing something you don't want to do--regardless of if you get paid a lot. I would rather do something I enjoy and not get paid that much...I say just do it and show them you are serious, and that there is an income [to be made].” 

Melvin recognizes the difficulties that go into working for oneself and being your own boss, but he says the challenges pale in comparison to the positives that come with owning his own business. Thrifting is also a way for Melvin to express his creativity. “I would say my favorite part is showing my creativity and getting an income from it, which is like the greatest feeling...Just showing my personality. I show it off through my finds like, ‘I like this, so I'm sure someone else would like it.’” 

In addition to the thrill that comes with finding a beautiful vintage piece, Melvin says that another reason he loves thrifting is because it is more environmentally friendly than buying clothing brand new: “Sustainability is another huge part of why I love vintage. A lot of the fast fashion companies dump all their garments that they don't sell, and it all ends up in the landfill. [Thrifting] is an awesome way to help the earth.” 

He credits much of his success to his friends, as well as other local entrepreneurs who welcomed him into the community. Other local vintage sellers have created a network of support that helps to uplift others, and Mercedes Hernandez of Holee Vintage has even become a mentor of Melvin’s since starting his business. “When I started thrifting, I just watched YouTube and stuff, but as of recently I want to say Mercedes is my mentor. When it comes to small business stuff, I always go to her and ask her questions...You don’t do things just for yourself. Always think about the community because they are here to support you. It should never be like a competition or anything. It’s always community over competition... I would not be where I am with my business if it weren’t for my friends. They were there from the start. Buying my tees when I barely even knew anything, but I knew I wanted to do this as my job. Holding a small pop-up exclusively for them. If you guys are reading this, thank you! I appreciate you guys.” 

Melvin brings Melvintage Thrifts on the road to local makers markets, flea markets, and even has a rack of clothing at Holee Vintage. His next pop-up will be at the SoCo Market in La Plaza Park in Downtown Cotati on Sunday May 15 from 11am-4pm. He can also be found on Instagram @melvintagethrifts, where you can find links to his other online marketplaces and social media pages.  




Melvin Encarnacion was interviewed by Haley Katz, Community Engagement AmeriCorps VISTA.