Opening Up

Pretty & Pristine

Osseo's Vintage Vixen finds the beauty in worn out pieces

Laura Lash, photos by Laura Lash |

Amongst the rolling hills of Osseo, under the canopy of a pristine blue sky, I had the great pleasure of meeting Wendy Hageness, proprietor of Vintage Vixen. Immediately, I was struck by her crisp style and warm charm. Her work outfit is that of an experienced carpenter with excellent style: raven hair tied back in a braid with a bandana headband, Custom Leather Crafts tool belt strapped to her waist alongside her 16-foot tape measure. I knew that I was meeting a truly skilled artisan.

In her driveway, we shook hands beside her baby turquoise blue 1965 Chevy Suburban and her latest project, the 1968 Yellowstone Camper that she is rehabbing and travelling with to the Symco Shakedown, a huge outdoor festival with a rockabilly vibe, out in Manawa. Her stunning vehicles and knowledgeable tour of her workshop made the scene feel as we were on a DIY project reality TV shows: style, substance, know-how.  

At age 16, Wendy was offered a job by a local carpenter near Strum to be the “gofergirl.” She learned the trade through sanding, staining, and varnishing – which is a necessary, though straightforward, regimen for a creative individual to undertake. While she doesn’t recall it as her favorite form of labor,  “There was an incredibly valuable lesson to be learned; the importance of detail and how that transcends into an art form," she said.

Wendy has a keen eye for the “ugly Betty” projects – she can see the beauty and vintage value of a worn piece and transform it. She has coined the term Vixenology: “The Kustom re-design of Mid-Century furniture & décor to recreate a one of a kind timeless piece.” She dots our conversation with slang, calling Magnavox cabinet stereos “Maggies.” She’s done interior decorating for clients who want the feel of the 1950s-70s done in a seriously polished way.

"My furniture and décor style is mid-century, Danish modern, retro atomic, all of which is going to appeal to a particular audience,” she said.

At times Wendy’s keen eye lands on a piece that is pristine, intact, and simply ready to be plucked by her and forwarded to a willing client. “Last year I had the extreme pleasure of purchasing a rare Nanna Ditzel sofa settee, which was ultimately purchased by an extremely high end dealer and shipped to New York,” she said.

When she launched her business three years ago, Wendy was travelling once per month to make deliveries to the Twin Cities, Madison, and sometimes Chicago. Clients were thoroughly pleased with her craftsmanship, business ethic, and savvy pricing. She continued gathering clients via her posts on Craigslist and by word of mouth.

Her Facebook page displays many projects of eye-popping color and satisfying before/after photos. She need not advertise for clients; her work speaks for itself. Her roster of clients will often let her know of items for which they are searching. As of June 1, Wendy has shuttered the downtown location she had on Main Street in Osseo, preferring to keep her work closer to home. Currently she has contractors rehabbing The Grainery, a building that exists on her property that previously was used as an alone-time nook for this mother of two. Now it will stand as a showroom and gathering place for clients and friends who love conversating while surrounded by vintage.

To see and learn more, search for “Vintage Vixen” on Facebook.