Name: Laura Lee @thehalloweencollector
From : Houston, Texas
What made you love Halloween so strongly?
Halloween has always been my favorite thing since as long as I can remember. I had early experiences with the paranormal so after that I was always fascinated by ghosts and goblins and things that go bump in the night. Halloween had all of that in a magical, fun way, so it was a natural draw. I mean I could actually become my favorite monster for a night?? What’s cooler than that, right? Growing up in rural Massachusetts, the area is so historical with endless ancient architecture and cemetaries dating back to the mid-1600s (for America, that is really old) LOL. When I was 4, my mother ran a Saturday science school for older kids at our home, so my dad and I would go get ice cream and explore the local 17th and 18th century cemeteries in Concord together every Saturday. We would read all the tombstones and look at all the intricate carvings that were so dark and beautiful. It really instilled in me a love of history at an early age, and of course, it encouraged my love of all things creepy, macabre and mysterious. Halloween just encapsulates all the things I love but in a fun way, so it was a perfect fit. From monsters to ghouls to haunted houses and hayrides- I loved it all and still do.
How did you get into Halloween ?
I don’t remember when I began trick or treating- it was probably as a baby, but Halloween was always a big thing, and we always participated every year. Trick or treating every year with a new costume handmade by my mother was my favorite night of the year, especially because we got to go all over town with our friends. This was the late 1980’s/early 90’s, long before real terrorism and kidnapping fears, so we got to go out ALONE as kids at night! It was soooo thrilling, especially dressing up on the most magical night of the year with a pack of your best friends in tow.
About 2 weeks before Halloween, my brother and I would get to pick out our pumpkins at the local farmstand to take home and carve. I remember vividly my parents buying a kids carving kit at Zare’s (which became Kmart later) just so we could carve our own jack o’lanterns. We would draw scary faces on the pumpkins with marker and carefully saw our designs into the smooth pumpkin skin until they were creepy perfect! I remember finishing the afternoon by roasting the pumpkin seeds and eating them for a salty snack. And I was so excited jumping off the school bus every autumn afternoon and seeing those orange grinning gourds on the front porch! The best view ever!
Halloween was also widely celebrated at my school. We would have a costume contest, parade and class party, and we would also create endless Halloween themed artwork in our art class come September and October. I still have an orange paper jack o’ lantern I made with yellow plastic inserts for the eyes, nose and mouth. I hung it in the window every year, and I was sooo proud of it!LOL
Halloween was everywhere in the fall, and I just adored it. Even the grocery store was decorated to the hilt in orange and black crepe paper. I remember vividly going in a Hallmark store around 1989-90 and seeing all the glorious Halloween items including these black cat clip-on earrings. I was probably 8, but I begged and begged for those earrings! LOL I wanted them sooo bad. And boy was I proud when my parents finally got them for me! I wore them year-round. I also got a Halloween sweater I would wear every fall. So fun and thrilling! I so wish I still had those things today.
What is your favorite thing to do on/around halloween ?
My favorite things to do leading up to Halloween are definitely decorating and watching Halloween shows and movies. As a kid I always wanted to decorate crazily for Halloween, but my parents were not really into it. We would carve pumpkins and maybe have a witch diecut for the front door and that was it. LOL I was so dismayed! I would make tons of my own paper decorations and hang them up just to have more around. I remember getting so excited when my dad bought Halloween leaf bags instead of the regular black yard bags to rake the leaves into. They had a jack o’ lantern pattern, and we filled them with leaves and put them on the front lawn for October. I was just so ecstatic over those bags! LOL So now I go all out for Halloween with a vintage theme, and I love every minute of planning it and installing it! My favorite Halloween movies as a kid were Disney’s Halloween Treat which was on every year along with other Disney favorites such as Mr. Boogedy and other cartoon specials. Now I love and watch them all year round, but I enjoy what’s on tv during the Halloween season too. On Halloween night I generally hand out candy to kids (if I get trick or treaters) and eat treats and watch Hocus Pocus.
Can you remember which Halloween costume was your favourite one?
My mom made our costumes every year, and she made so many it’s hard to remember them all. I recall I was a bumbleee, black cat, white rabbit, cheerleader, witch, Hershey’s kiss, ghost, hippie, etc. I have a few favorites- I remember the bumblebee was a favorite because my antennae were battery powered skulls that flashed on and off. I was around 7, and I thought they were sooo cool! LOL I also won the costume contest at school with another kid, and we got to lead the costume parade in the cafeteria, so of course I was beside myself excited about that. I also loved my witch costume because I had a plastic witch nose glued to my face. It smelled terrible but was covered in warts, and I had a black wig with a white stripe down the side, so I felt sooo authentic in the classic Halloween witch hag kinda way. I got to be scary, and I liked it. I remember walking through the neighborhood in the freezing cold dragging a full size broom with the moon shining and dry leaves crunching underfoot . The jack o’ lanterns were glowing on the porches, and I was an enchanting witch who just fit the scene. I belonged, and it was pure magic.
What does Halloween mean to you?
Halloween is magic to me. It’s the one night of the year when anything is possible, and being wierd is actually celebrated. It’s also when I feel the most in alignment with nature and those who have gone before. It’s always been like a New Year to me- a new start, and new magical beginning. And the black cats, jack o’lanterns and ghouls are all friends who come to life on October 31st.
Of all the amazing Halloween candy you can get now adays , what is your favourite? ( Old Classics/ New style candy etc )
My favorite candy has always been anything chocolate! Now it is definitely Reese’s Buttercups. As kids, my brother and I would always count our candy when we finished trick or treating (one year I got like 130 pieces- it was crazy! LOL), and then we would trade with each other what we didn’t like. We both liked chocolate the best though Jon liked certain kinds more than I did (like snickers and mars bars). Our parents let us keep all of our candy, so we would pig out like actual piggly wigglies every day after school for months! LOL Back then I loved Kitkats, Reese’s and Hershey’s bars the best. I have food allergies now that I didn’t have as a kid, so what I can eat has changed somewhat. But I still love Reese’s Buttercups and solid dark chocolate!
What Halloween food and drinks are you most excited about?
I’m a fool for any Halloween-themed cupcake! LOL For my Halloween party back in 2013, my sister Mallory was my co-host. She’s an incredible baker, and she created tombstone cupcakes that were simply amazing. She crumbled chocolate cookies for a dirt-like topping and then stuck an upright cookie in the top for the RIP tombstone. I loved them so much, and they were delicious! As for drinks, I have always gravitated towards warm apple cidar or hot chocolate. I’m allergic to alchohol and I don’t drink soda, so that leaves the classics (oh and a ghoulish homemade fruit punch is always good too).
When do you start shopping for Halloween ?
I never stop! LOL I shop year-round for vintage pieces which I usually find in antique stores and thrift stores and online. Of course, the best shopping is always in August when Halloween retail begins for the season. I do my most shopping then for all of the fantastic reproductions on the market.
When I was a kid, I would be looking for Halloween dollhouse items year round- I’ve always been obsessed with dollhouses and minatures, and one year I found a witch figurine while visiting my grandmother in Ohio. It was like I won the lottery- I was just so excited! I still have her to his day along with some other Halloween miniatures.
What about halloween makes it your favorite holiday?
You know, I don’t think I’ve ever thought about it! LOL This interview is really fun for me because I’m having to really sit down and think about why I love Halloween so much. I think I love it because it revolves around my favorite things- autumn, cold weather, ghosts and monsters, mystery and magic- all of which I’m fascinated by. There’s also just something so liberating about the idea of wearing a costume- you can be anything for a night! Even a creature that isn’t real. It’s so fun!
Do you think it has any negative sides to it?
Well, you have the trick or treating urban legends about razor blades in apples and poisoned candy which aren’t good (though they are generally just urban legends). Kids in the early 20th century were major mischief makers setting fire to buildings and vandalizing homes, etc., which was a problem solved by trick or treating. Give a kid candy and they’re happy! LOL The only other negative aspect of it usually revolves around certain groups of people believing Halloween has some relationship to evil or the devil. I think this is so lame! LOL My ex-boyfriend’s parents believed this and he was only allowed to trick or treat as a kid if he was a normal person as his costume. So he could only be a cowboy, a policeman or a fireman, and he wasn’t allowed to eat most of his candy. Sooo lame! I think it thwarts a child’s creativity on a night that is fun and shouldn’t be taken so seriously. It’s a night of magic and all kids should be able to express themselves freely. My 7-year-old angel nephew who’s the sweetest kid on earth wanted to be the Grim Reaper for Halloween and my brother and sister-in-law ordered the scariest costume they could find complete with lightup red eyes and a scythe. Sloan was elated! And he wasn’t corrupted by it- it’s just harmless fun. And that’s how it should be.
What is the Favorite Halloween item you have?
Oh gosh! It’s so hard to choose. I’d say my vintage papier mache jack o’lantern with the original face insert. He’s just so ghoulish! I adore him.
My second favorite would have to be my green paper witch pinata that I found at the thrift store for $3 as a lot with a 1940’s Beistle scarecrow. Fabulous!
Do you still go trick or treating?
I wish! Though it would be wierd to have a grown adult show up on people’s doorsteps! LOL My friends, Nicole and Rob, used to throw the BEST Halloween party every year until they moved to New York City. They would rent out a bar and Rob’s cover band would play all night and we would dress up and party. SO fun!
Can you remember your first Halloween memory?
I think my first Halloween memory was from when I was 4, and I was going trick or treating with my friend, Rachel. It was already dark out, and my dad was driving me to Rachel’s house through a dense fog. We could barely see the stone walls along the street through the fog and then Monster Mash came on the radio and it was sooooo spooky and fun. I just loved it! Also Rachel had an ancient Victorian house (think the Addams Family house but painted yellow), so that was an added spooky touch. I don’t remember what my costume was from that Halloween, but it was my first big memory!
Do you keep all your Halloween decorations out all year or do you start decorating at a certain time ?
I keep my favorite vintage and reproduction pieces out in a glass front cabinet year round. I also have a faux fall tree branch I made that has orange Halloween lights on it year round. But everything else tends to be stored until late August when it begins to come out in the house. And I have 10 large bins, so it’s a lot, but sooo fun! I usually layer in fall decor first in August (like faux foliage canopys and garlands), and then add in Halloween around mid-September until the whole house is done. This year I got so many new favorite pieces they began to overflow to the top of the cabinet and next to it. My dream is to one day have a room dedicated to my collection where it’s Halloween year round! Someday I’ll have one.
Where do you buy your Halloween items?
I buy my vintage pieces at local antique stores, thrift stores and online (on sites like eBay and etsy). During the Halloween season (August through October in America) I buy reproductions in stores like Home Goods, TJ Maxx, Tuesday Morning, Michael’s, Joann Fabrics and others, but my favorite place to buy reproductions online year round is www.christmastraditions.com. They have really outstanding pieces in a vintage style made by really outstanding artists such as Johanna Parker and Bethany Lowe.
Whats your favourite halloween movie/series?
Oh this is a hard one! LOL I adore kids Halloween movies the most because I grew up with a lot of them and I like fun spooky movies the best. Along that line I would have to say Hocus Pocus, the Halloweentown series, Mr. Boogedy and its sequel, Bride of Boogedy, The Haunted Mansion (with Eddie Murphy), Disney’s animated Bing Crosby-narrated Legend of Sleepy Hollow, Teen Wolf (starring Michael J. Fox), Casper, The Addams Family and Addams Family Values, Hotel Transylvania, Scooby Doo (the early animated seasons from the 1960’s/70’s) and Nightmare Before Christmas (though I was not allowed to see this as a kid and only first saw it when I was 25!). Anything by Tim Burton I love- Edward Scissorhands, Beetlejuice, The Corpse Bride. Girl Vs. Monster on Netflix is sooo dorky yet so enjoyable!
For more adult movies, I love Sleepy Hollow (with Johnny Depp), The Craft, Interview with the Vampire, the Ghostbusters series and I adore The Munsters. I tend to enjoy Hitchcock and the classic monster movies and atmospheric supernatural flicks like Crimson Peak, The VVitch, The Shining and I am The Pretty Thing that Lives in the House. My favorite horror genre is supernatural or monster.
I’m not a huge slasher movie fan as I don’t like a lot of gore, though I’ve gotten into them more with my subscription to Horror Pack. I did watch Halloween last year and really liked it! (I’ve seen 1 and 2 and then Halloween H2O).
For tv shows, I love Buffy the Vampire Slayer (I used to watch it in high school and rewatched it all ten years ago), True Blood, Sabrina the Teenage Witch and of course the sci-fi great, Stranger Things, and some of the new Netflix series. Dark was extremely good though that is more sci-fi.
As a side note, I was not allowed to watch anything actually scary as a kid. Watcher in the Woods slipped through the cracks somehow and scared the sh$t out of me. LOL I still think it’s super creepy to this day, and I can’t believe it’s considered a kid’s movie. And then I saw Child’s Play 2 at my friend, Amy Cardillo’s, tenth birthday party (and I was scarred for life as I’m terrified of dolls! LOL). When I was 14, I begged and begged my parents to let me see Interview with the Vampire to no avail. So I got the poster and hung it on my wall (I mean, young and dreamy Tom Cruise was always a plus, and he was a vampire! LOL). My brother and I rented it years later when I was in college, and I loved it. Well worth the wait!
How is Halloween celebrated in the US?
Trick or Treating is the main event for kids, and it’s universally celebrated across the nation. Kids go door-to-door in costume and collect candy from strangers and neighbors on Halloween night. Pumpkins are usually carved into jack o’lanterns and lighted and placed on the front porch of the home or in the front window to ward off evil spirits (or just because it’s a tradition! Most people aren’t superstitious about it). Then there are tons of outside house decorations and lights up usually the whole month of October! Some people even do home haunts. A lot of cities celebrate Halloween with a parade or big costume party, and many people have adult costume parties at their homes during October or on Halloween night. Halloween is only second to Christmas for American holiday retail sales, so there is an abundance of items for sale August through October! It’s really fabulous the amount of cool stuff you can find, and every year has a different variety. Many haunted attractions are in full swing for September and October- from polished professional haunted houses you pay admission for to a country farmyard haunted hayride. I actually went on a haunted hayride as a kid, and it was a childhood highlight! A local farmer turned his corn field into a haunted maze with actors who would jump out and scare you at night, so of course I wanted to go! LOL I begged for weeks to go, and finally my Dad took me and a friend one cold October night when I was 10. So fun and unforgettable! I loved it, and I love all the Halloween festivities we celebrate each year.
Is it difficult finding Halloween decorations in your town/city?
Not at all. It’s super easy and abundant since Houston is such a large city!
What made you want to start making halloween videos?
It was so random because I had never even thought about being on Youtube or having my own channel. It didn’t even occur to me. I had started my Halloween instagram account randomly for fun and was super suprised when I started getting followers! LOL I thought I’d have like 200, but by last summer it had grown to about 4k.
Well, one day last summer I posted a video to my IG account talking about something (I can’t remember what). My friend, Blakely, saw it and she’s a PR/marketing master. She was like, Laura, you need to start a Youtube channel! You’re really good on camera and you could become a Halloween influencer on social media. LOL I was like um what?? LOL But then I thought about it and decided it would be really fun to post Halloween project tutorials on a Youtube channel along with my Halloween decor as I’m super passionate about decorating. And there you go! I haven’t made a ton of videos but they’re super fun, and I’m excited to grow my channel in the future. And my friend was right, because my IG account grew to 11K followers by Halloween after adding my Youtube account. So that was crazy!
What are important themes to you when you make videos?
My channel is called A Vintage Halloween, so I like to focus on vintage and reproduction Halloween decor, collecting and decorating. Also fun craft ideas anyone can easily recreate such as how to make fall garlands and gold leaf monsters. I also started a series called my Ghost Chronicles about my own ghost experiences as a child, and it was really interesting how people would comment about their own experiences.
How much time do you spend of your day/week making videos?
Usually a few hours per week. I haven’t made any new videos in a while, but I’m aiming for about 2 per month later this year. I just moved back to Houston from the country, so I’ve been preoccupied trying to find a job, etc.!
Can it sometimes be difficult for you to handle the fame being a known Halloween persona?
I don’t consider myself famous by any measure, however having 11k people enjoying your IG posts and Youtube channel does put a certain amount of pressure on you to continue to output a very high level of imagery and creative new ideas for videos. That said, rather than view it as a negative thing, I see it as a super fun outlet for imagination to run wild, and I have really enjoyed it. Like it’s one of the most enjoyable things I’ve ever done. And all of ya’ll are my pals! So for me it’s more about casually sharing my love for Halloween judgement free with fellow enthusiasts on this awesome platform we call social media. _____________________________________________________________
Clothing / style
Where do you usually buy your clothes ?
I tend to buy my clothes at discount stores like Home Goods/Marshalls and TJ Maxx or at Nordstrom depending on what I’m looking for.
what style of clothing do you like to buy?
My favorite style is anything Victorian-inspired. I’ve always felt odd and misplaced like I was born in the wrong century, so if I see a piece with puff sleeves and lace I’m all over it! LOL And I’m really excited that Victorian style is now trending because you can find piece after perfect piece very easily. It took me ten years + to find the pieces I previously had vs. last year when I found 30 pieces in 2 stores in one afternoon. So I’m loving it! Anddddd now I’m stylish instead of being wierd so I’m down with that! LOL
Do you have any tips on where to find awesome Halloween clothing for the rest of us halloween addicts?
It really depends on your personal style! I love the goth brands like Killstar though you can find solid pieces anywhere. I love the discount stores like Home Goods/Marshalls because you can find nice pieces for $25 a pop vs. $50-$100+ a pop. Like I found two goth black lace Victorian tops there for $30 each. I almost cried I was so happy. LOL
Do you wear Halloween/Horror styled clothes all year?
I wear Victorian inspired clothing all year but usually combined with more modern pieces (like jeans or a modern t-shirt). I’m not a traditional goth in all black because I really love color too. For me it’s more about the Victorian influence mixed with modern pieces.
What’s your favourite Halloween clothing /accessories/bags/shoes tec?
Anything with lace! I’m a total sucker and I’ll buy it all especially if it’s intricate and black. For accessories I love anything detailed and floral and of course, antique-inspired. I’m also obsessed with rings! I have over 200. My grandfather thought this was so hilarious, and he used to tease me about it. He’d give me a $20 bill and would say «Now go buy yourself some rings with this!» and he would laugh. But anything sterling silver is usually my jam (I’ve found brass and other materials discolor my fingers). I have a lot of James Avery jewelry as that was trendy in my high school, and they have some really pretty pieces and it’s all sterling silver or gold and very high quality. My favorite necklace is a gold crescent moon pendant from them. It’s just stunning! They are @jamesavery on IG and www.jamesavery.com.
I discovered Rewind Jewelry this fall, and I’m obsessed! It’s a steampunk line and the pieces are all handmade from old watch parts. I bought a ribcage ring from them which I’m in love with. The ribcage is handcarved brass and the ring itself is silver. It’s amazing, and it was love at first sight! Anddd he makes a jack o’lantern watch necklace that’s to-die-for! It’s legit incredible! I’ll have to splurge on one of those this year. You can find them on IG @rewindjewelry and at http://www.rewindjewelry.com.
For shoes, I’m obsessed with anything suede. Why, I have no idea! It’s hot as Hades most of the time here in Texas so I usually wear leather suede sandals in the summer and then suede boots in the fall/winter. I like natural materials: real leather, cotton and sterling silver. I’m not a tennis shoe/sneaker/trainer kinda gal, and would gravitate towards ballet slippers (suede too! Yes I have 4 colors of the same shoe) or a low heel before I put on sneakers. It’s also wayyy too hot to wear closed-toed shoes here in the summer. I shop at DSW or Nordstrom for shoes usually. This year I would love to get a great pair of Killstar boots to break it up a little!
As far as bags go, SURPRISE!!! I like suede. LOL I also have a brown leather crossbody bag with fringe I wear basically every day because I hate carrying bags with my hands (I’m wayyy too lazy for that and suede is heavy!) LOL. I collected a TON of Kate Spade bags and used those when I had a more classic work style at the old company I worked for. I still have a few of those, but I don’t use them as often since they aren’t my usual style. I would LOVE to get my hands on a @lovepainandstiches bag one day! Their Halloween bags are incredible!
Have you worked hard on your style?
My style has always been Victorian bohemian naturally though I dressed preppy and classic when I worked in a corporate office (my job was pretty formal meaning suits and tops with nice pants, but I got away with a more causal look). I’m an artist and enjoy mixing prints and textures, so that was stifling in a way, but I still managed to put a creative (and gothic) spin on it. A favorite everyday brand is Free People, though I gravitate more towards their romantic Victorian pieces than the hippie pieces. I like things that are flowy and cotton and lace of course and anything floral. The more details the better. I think I’ve worked harder trying to find the perfect pieces for my style than on developing my style if that makes sense? Trying to find Victorian pieces is always challenging when it’s not on trend. If I could wear the entire wardrobe of Crimson Peak I would! It’s to die for!
Check out her instagram and YouTube here!:https://www.instagram.com/thehalloweencollector/