Arts & Culture News

We Are 1976's Vynsie Law on Inspiration and Competitive Bowling

When we first approached Vynsie Law for an interview, she was reluctant. Not because VoiceMemo on iPhone freaks her out, but she was afraid she'd come off like a real snoozer. That's the beauty of Law though. She's a cool kid who has no idea she's a cool kid.

Law is part of the trifecta that make up the owners/buyers/exceptional-taste-havers that own We Are 1976. If you've been in Dallas for more than a day, you're familiar with the shop - it's stocked with Japanese cutie things like crocheted cacti, tiny pistol necklaces and posters by local and national screenprinters - but what you're probably not familiar with is the humans behind the shop. And that's where we come in.

Law was raised in the mid-cities by parents that came to North America for college. One of the strangest things about her is she eats peanut butter and cheese sandwiches. It's a taste she developed as a child. "That's what my mom used to make for us for school because she didn't know you didn't do that. We had tuna and cream cheese, too." Not that now is the best time to mention it, but her parents eventually owned three restaurants and several other businesses. While they were getting them off the ground Law and her brother went to Hong Kong to live with their grandmother. They made it back just in time for high school and after Law graduated, she floated around for a bit.

"I knew I wanted to be in art, but my family really wasn't for that. At some point I just went to art school and then it became my career," Law says. "But I had to fight them a little along the way."

She hit up Art Institute first and then finished off her studies at Chelsea College of Art & Design. After graduation she worked as a graphic designer, but always toyed with the idea of opening a shop. By the time she was in her 30s, she had that "now or never" moment. The gang - Law, brother Derek and then sister-in-law July - got together and started the shop and now they have two. One on Henderson, affectionately called "Hendo" and one in Bishop Arts that focuses more on classes and screenprinting, but still sells a shitload of the cool stuff.

In the beginning they traveled for inspiration and never missed an opportunity to check out a shop in another city. Nowadays, Law says she mostly finds inspiration messing around on the Internet, reading blogs - a local favorite is Simply Lovely and non-local is A Well Traveled Women - watching TV and film, and taking mini-trips to neighboring cities.

She also scours Briar Press, a hybrid letterpress shop and "how to" site. As for a spot she loves to roam that you've probably never heard of - H Mart, an Asian grocery store in Carrollton and Plano. On her days off, wandering the aisles of H Mart is a guilty pleasure...that and watching TV and spending the day online. Her other favorite shop? Curiosities on Abrams. Not that she has a ton of spare time. The two shops keep her plenty busy, but she wouldn't trade it for the world.

What's the most favorite thing about your job? When we're all in a good mood and we're working together it's just really fun. And you kind of pick who you get to work with. I think that's the luckiest thing. Just sort of creating your own environment and your own culture. It's nice.

Least favorite thing about your job? When we fight. It's a family fight. We get to make the rules as we go along. Like what we sell, how we sell it, even simple things like what our hours are and changing it if we need to, that's pretty awesome about having your own business. Of course, we're three people with very strong opinions.

What's one thing you did or do that surprises people? We used to be competitive bowlers. We went to bowling tournaments in Florida.

Did you guys have a name? Bowlheads? Was that it?

How can you not remember your competitive bowling name? We changed it every year. One year we had a teammate that was really in to Dungeons & Dragons and we had silver lamé shirts that he picked for us. With a zipper.

And finally, since your shop is our gift go-to, what's the best gift you ever received? My brother took my grandfather's reading glasses from the 1960s and turned them into sunglasses. Derek is an exceptional gift giver and not because he spends a lot of money, but because he pays attention.

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Allison Perkins