FAC Shop: Joella Schipper on bringing back extravagance in Amsterdam’s nightlife and throwing raves in her store

Photo: Lotte Dale

Four years ago, Joella Schipper (35) set up her own store named FAC Shop (Free Spirits and Clubbers). Designing her own pieces and bringing in designs from all over the world, she sells partywear, streetwear and clubwear with a mission of bringing back variety in nightlife. Today Joella and I sit together to talk about her shop, acceptance and throwing raves in her store.

You and your store radiate of energy. I wonder, what inspired you to set up FAC Shop?

It was an organic process. Before FAC Shop I worked at a vintage store, followed by a gallery. It was a time where in one way or another I would always end up at Waterlooplein. Buying clothes, walking around. Eventually I set up my own stand there. This evolved into setting up my own concept store to eventually having two pop-up stores.

As you can see I was very much finding out what I wanted. I’ve always wanted to do something creative and I’ve always loved design and extravagant fashion. But there was one thing that I loved more: going out. I thought about how I could combine those two and that led me to set up my own store in selling party-, street- , and clubwear. I missed a store like that in Amsterdam.

Funny enough, there was a store space available for rent, at Waterlooplein. I then thought: this is it.

Joella in FAC Shop, Photo: Shotbythebradford.com

You mentioned you missed a store like that, don’t you think it’s strange there wasn’t any store like yours? Looking at Amsterdam’s rich history in creative nightlife and the rave scene it used to have.

That’s why I set up the store in the first place. I watched documentaries and especially looking at the time of club RoXY; people went out in their most creative and colourful outfits. The process of preparing your outfit started a week before the event. You would visit Waterlooplein to find vintage clothing or even create your own pieces.

But then when I looked around me when going out, so many people were only wearing jeans and a t-shirt. I then wondered: does this contribute to the energy of a place? Does it give the excitement and energy for people to go out? I understand that everyone has their own style, but you also need to make it a fun thing for yourself.

This is what I really missed. Visiting thrift shops, coming up with unique outfits and assembling them at home. For me, the excitement that comes with preparing an outfit, is the first part of going out. This is the way they did it back in the day and I wanted to bring this back. 

Amber Vineyard in FAC Shop, Photo: Outsider-i.com

Is extravagance also the basis of what items you select for your store?

Definitely. I have a lot of nice brands in my store and what I really like is that I have personal connections with the talented and creative owners of those brands. Take for example NAKT, Elsie and Fred, Indyanna Fashion, Bas Kosters

When I go out, I always see some people dressed in FAC Shop, and I always see you in the most creative outfits. What kind of reactions do you get when walking around in these designs? 

My outfits create interaction. People in clubs get excited about FAC Shop outfits, some people give compliments or ask questions, which makes the person wearing them happy again. This creates this circle of positive energy. 

I have people in my shop who come back on a regular occasion and tell me that they’ve received a lot of compliments when they went out in my pieces. That’s really nice to hear. This means others are exposed to my outfits and are perhaps inspired to express their creativity when going out the next time.

Joella and Djamel in FAC Shop

When going out, do you see a lot of people dressed in clothes from FAC Shop?

It happens to me sometimes when I’m waiting in front of the toilet at a club, a girl comes out with clothes from FAC Shop. That’s really nice to see.

In general, I see more and more people thinking about what they will wear when going out. To add more colour, to create more diversity. This is something I really like to see.

Janeth in FAC Shop, photo: Elyse Kuiken

In a way, a small store like yours can have a big influence. It contributes to the acceptance, diversity and creativity within these spaces.

Especially this accepting part. That is something I’m still struggling with sometimes. When I go to certain clubs in Amsterdam dressed in a body from FAC Shop, people make comments or ask me why I’m dancing in my bikini. I try to not listen to that, but it’s sad to see that it does limit your feeling of freedom when you dress yourself in a certain way.

That’s why I would like more people to dress in their most authentic or creative selves.

Joella in Fac Shop, photo: David Wouters

It’s commonly known that you love a party! Sometimes you throw raves in FAC Shop. What does that look like?

I love to party – yes – but I also really enjoying creating one. In the past, I usually threw raves in form of a party-pit-stop, so in-between good parties or weekenders, people would visit my store where we already get them ready and excited for the night and the next party. People can get a piercing, buy an outfit, get their make-up done. I’ve organised my own in-store session events, but also events at Roxanne together with DJ Collective Origami.

But I’ve also been active at festivals, hosting the ‘rent a party friend’ where we connect visitors with each other, create interaction, get them excited and get the party started. Through music, dancing, shots, pimping people’s faces with jewellery and selecting the right outfit. But also through styling and organizing photoshoots. This is something I’m actively doing aside from FAC Shop. 

Today, every now and then I throw mini-raves in my store in collaboration with local rave organizations. DJ’s from those organizations play at these events, a lot of friends and new people show up. There’s good techno playing, and everyone loves it in spite of it being a small store. The parties always have such a good vibe.

Doppelgang, DJ, in FAC Shop

Sometimes even a little bit too much! That’s when the police shows up?

Yes, that has happened a few times. It’s one of those really good evenings where the vibe is great. One time the roof literally went off. That’s when the police came – luckily it was in the end when the last track was already playing [laughs].

Then I’m standing there in my body, with my golden tooth and with cigarettes in my ear, sweet-talking the police to not get into any trouble. What can I say? I love a good party and so do the people who visit my shop. A lot of people become friends, it’s always a good vibe and I meet a lot of new people because of it.

I enjoy my job a lot.

That means you’ve already won in life! What about your future plans for FAC Shop?

I’ve noticed that clubwear for men is scarce. I want to change this. Together with my two friends, Tijs and Jeroen, we’re creating new pieces for men. This is an example of me wanting to collaborate more. Whether that means through styling of performers/artists, photoshoots, organizing events, setting up an own brand, I want for FAC Shop to become a home for everyone that loves clubbing. FAC Shop is slowly moving towards a community.

Rawprisc and Ashanti Vreden and Troy Mooijkind in FAC Shop

I think it’s very good that you ask two male friends of yours to help you with that. They probably have an insight of what they would wear and not wear.

Exactly, and it’s very sweet of them. But it’s also very much fun. In the future I would like to design more of my own clothes. But right now I don’t have enough space and time for it. Also I’ve been into styling for a very long time, and I want to do more of it. That’s it for now.

You can’t do everything at the same time, however you do have some clear goals.

Exactly, and I’m already happy that I’m feeling fresh today, sitting on this chair right now.

Take a look inside FAC Shop at the Jodenbreestraat 50, 1011 NM, Amsterdam. Or take a peek on their website. Don’t forget to follow FAC Shop on Facebook to stay tuned about its upcoming in-store mini-raves.