Where Are They Now? Cara Crupi-Dulmaine '03 and Kristen Schober '07

September 15, 2015

Karaand Kristen

Cara and Kristen own Modern Vintage Design in Sandwich, MA! We asked them a few questions!

What did you study at Simmons?

Cara: I majored in computer science and minored in studio art

Kristen: I double majored in art and communications.

What's a typical day like at Modern Vintage Design?

C: I don’t know if there is a typical day! Since our job is creative, our projects are constantly changing and are usually unique. My day involves lots of time on the computer – mainly designing and managing orders. If I’m not glued to the screen, then I am either sewing, assembling wedding invitations or at customers’ homes hanging window treatments. We also are busy tending to customers or conversing with random stop-ins from friends or family or even with people trying to sell us their old furniture. We’re never bored and there is an abundance of energy around us all the time!

K: Between the retail shop and the design studio, we offer so many different services and products that there really is no such thing as a typical day. I spend a lot of time actually making the products – painting signs and furniture, that sort of thing. Our shop includes workspaces for our projects and a retail store, so we’re always busy one way or another.

What made you want to open your own business?

C: I’ve always known I wanted to own my own business. Having two self-employed parents, I was familiar with that sort of workstyle/lifestyle. After working for a production company for several years with lots of corporate work and travel, I became bored of the tech design and I didn’t want to create for somebody else’s visions. The excitement of the travel also started to fade. I wanted to get back in touch with my “girly” side. I began taking classes for fun in textile design and fiber arts. I loved it. After getting pregnant with my first daughter, I decided to leave my job and spend a year with her at home. I took on freelance design work while also collaborating with Kristen. We started a blog about our projects – with her furniture and my fabric. After receiving a great response, we went out on a limb and opened Modern Vintage Design Studio in 2012.

K: I wanted to work for myself and do something that allowed me to follow my own creative pursuits. I had worked in several local galleries after college, but wasn’t happy, and knew I needed a change. Cara and I started selling our products at craft fairs and online, but we knew we needed a bigger studio space. We moved to our first shop in Merchant’s Square in Sandwich, and later moved to our current location.

What kind of products and services do you sell?

C: I sell custom designed home interior products, i.e. fabric, pillows, window treatments, personalized gift items like birth announcement and wedding pillows and wall hangings. I also create custom designed wedding and event invitations. Other services include graphic design (logos, brand work, etc) and sewing classes for children.

K: I specialize in the painting and furniture end of Modern Vintage, so I do a lot of restoring and repurposing old furniture with sanding, waxing, and painting. I also make hand-painted, custom-made wooden signs.

How did you two meet and decide to go into business together?

C: Kristen and I have known each other since before Simmons. She is actually best friends with my younger sister and that’s how we met. We decided to go into business together because the timing was right and our passion for creating was in synch.

K: Cara and I grew up together in Sandwich – her sister was my best friend. Cara was a senior when I was a first-year at Simmons.

What is your favorite part of your job?

C: Coming up with the creative idea and design work. I also love making a customer happy.

K: I love creating something new from something that’s been thrown away. I love taking something old or ugly and turning it into something really awesome.

What was your favorite class you took at Simmons? Why?

C: Tough question! I loved all of my art classes but that’s because I love anything creative. If I had to pick, I’d say photography because I love taking pictures and the dark room was an escape from the logic of my computer science classes. Edie Bresler was great!

K: I also took a photography class, it was film, which was awesome. I loved being in the dark room too.

Where do you see yourself in ten years?

C: I hope to be doing more design and idea work and less of the production work. I also hope to expand the class side of my business. I love teaching and building skills in young girls. There is nothing better than feeling their sense of accomplishment and seeing them proud of themselves. I love to see them grow. It’s inspiring. I would also like to develop some sort of charitable program related to what I do and helping women in our local community. I’m not sure what it is yet, but I hope to have it figured out in 10 years!

K: I’d love my own HGTV show! But being a mom and growing my business with Cara are my two biggest priorities. I’d love to learn new skills too, like how to design and build my own furniture.

What advice would you give to the current Simmons undergraduate students?

C: Cherish your college years. Make friends. Study abroad for a semester if you can. Travel after you graduate. Don’t stress if you don’t know what you want to be yet. Just make the most out of your college experience – educationally and socially. Work hard and play hard. It goes by so fast and before you know it, you’ll be graduating. The world is your oyster… go get ‘em!

K: College goes by so quickly, and there are so many exciting things to look forward to in life beyond college. At the same time though, don’t rush the experience, because you don’t want to grow up too fast.

What’s a non-work activity that's important to you and how do you make time for it?

C: Spending time with family and friends. I have a rule to never work on a Sunday and I try to be home as much as I can, especially since I have two daughters and another baby on the way. Life is short so we need to enjoy it! Although I love my job, it’s not everything. My family is first and I always make time for that.

K: Spending time with my son, Luke, who is two. I always devote at least one full day to doing nothing but hanging out with him.

What's your Simmons Moment?

C: I loved Simmons, not only for the education, but because of the strong friendships I made there. Our group of “Simmons Girls” are just as close as we were in college. I don’t know where I’d be without these strong, beautiful and intelligent women. They have been by my side from our first night on the quad during freshman orientation listening to Howie Day perform live, to supporting me through my business. We have Simmons moments all the time!

K: Coming back to Boston every fall was something I always looked forward to. Being at Simmons was an important time in my life, and the start of the school year in Boston was something I always looked forward to.

Photos from Modern Vintage Design in Sandwich, MA. Top Photo - Left: Kristen Right: Cara Bottom Photo - Left: Cara Right: Kristen