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Out of the closet: How one enterprising entrepreneur uses social media to attract customers

Meet Angela Petraline, CEO and Founder of Dorothea’s Closet, and flat-out social-media goddess.

She’s got a brick-and-mortar store dubbed Best Vintage Shop in Des Moines, Iowa, by CitySearch in 2011, but it’s the way she leverages social media to attract customers from all over the world that makes her a vintage vixen extraordinaire.

Angela invests the majority of her social-media efforts into Facebook, posting uber-shareable images. She thinks Facebook is a better platform than Twitter for interacting with fans of vintage.

“Since Facebook implemented the option to schedule postings on business pages, I’ve come up with a plan to take advantage of that,” she says.

Each day, Angela selects photos based on a theme and schedules images to post every 30 minutes from 8 a.m.–9 p.m.

“One day I may pick a designer like Emilio Pucci, one day a silent screen actress, another day I might use vintage lingerie ads,” she says. “The better the eye candy, the more shares I see at the bottom of each post and the more people share, the more followers I see!”

The images she posts are interesting, timely and compelling, and I’m constantly sharing them everywhere. She’s savvy enough to use imagery that appeals not just to vintage lovers but to a broader audience as well. Angela also shares a wealth of re-pin-worthy photos on Pinterest.

“In a visually driven business like fashion, Pinterest is a natural. But you have to be careful not to make it over-do the self-promoting pins. I don’t know that I have a strategy there quite yet,” she says. “I just try to find vintage lovers, follow them and re-pin their pins and hope to make some connections.” Angela also has been adding some of the images from each day on Facebook onto one of her Pin Boards and linking to it from Facebook to try to build off both of them.

On top of her social-media prowess, she maintains a blog,, and understands the importance of consistency when it comes to branding in her store and online.

“I had my logo developed a few years back incorporating a red bird as a nod to my Grandma Dorothea, whom my business is named after, because she collected cardinals. I’ve stuck to red for signage and decor in my boutique, use the same font, etc. I try to work the logo into everything from Facebook to my email signature.”

Angela has used the same mannequin for years and the same live model as the face of Dorothea’s. “I’m lucky to have a good friend who’s gorgeous and wears vintage well,” she says.

Angela also keeps customers, followers and femorabilia fanatics updated on the latest with a weekly newsletter on what’s new on the site and the shop.

Though she’s prolific and strategic, she’s the first to say it’s not easy.

“I have a lot of ideas and plans, but life gets in the way. I post mainly from home or the boutique, so obviously there are plenty of distractions. I’m learning to be more disciplined.”

She does all this while photographing merchandise, culling images, managing inventory, running her brick-and-mortar and her online stores, mailing packages, connecting with the community she’s forged and raising her adorable little daughter, Ava.

Think of Angela next time you complain that you don’t have time to do the whole social-media marketing thing.

Let’s talk: When it comes to social media, what works for you? I’d love to chat with you in Comments below.


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