My London: The second-hand guru Josefina Boston

May 27, 2021 by

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Boston family


Name: Josefina Boston
Live: Leytonstone, East London
Time in London: 10+ years
Work: Owner of Second Archive, previously in PR & Marketing
Instagram: @secondarchive


Why did you move to London, what is your story?
In 2010 I moved to London for an internship at a major fashion brand. What was going to be a 3 months placement ended up in me never returning back to Sweden. I initially was given a role within the wholesale team, but once I arrived the PR department needed extra hands for BAFTA (British Academy Film Awards) which they were partnering with. I was not one to say no, to help all the big magazines write about it and celebrities to get dressed. It is safe to say I loved it, and that sparked the beginning of my career within fashion PR & marketing.


2 years later I met a guy at a party in Shoreditch, who stole my heart… and the rest is history.


You have been here for almost 11 years now, what are the biggest differences between the UK and Sweden?
It is hard for me to compare as I left when I was 20, I haven’t really experienced Sweden as an adult. But comparing it now I’d say the UK is more laid back. I love the pub culture and a boozy Sunday roast can be the highlight of the week. Whilst in Sweden Sundays seems to be a healthy day to prepare for the week to come.


I also see a difference in diversity. Here in London people come from all sorts of backgrounds and places from around the world. I don’t feel that Stockholm is nearly as diverse. I love that my children will grow up learning by living, with different cultures, ethnicities, foods, and even fashion style influences. There is no overall trend in London, the individual is at focus. Whilst I see a lot of people in Stockholm dressing the same.


Josefina in Notting Hill


Do you have any hidden treasures in the city? 
I do love Ciao Bella on Lambs Conduit Street. The best Italian in London. Genuine and just amazing homemade food. In a non-covid world, you always have to book. And make sure you ask for seating upstairs. They have a piano that one of the owners always plays towards the end of the night.


Tell us about your life, your family, and where you live:
I met my husband Matthew in 2011, he is half English half South African. We have two beautiful boys, Leo who is 3.5 yrs and Wilbur who just turned 1. When pregnant with Leo my husband Matthew and I sold our apartment in Islington/Kentish Town and moved to Leytonstone (east London, just beyond Hackney) for its greenery and bigger houses.


We are so lucky to have Epping Forest on our doorstep, a fantastic growing family community, lots of good nurseries, schools, playgrounds, shops, pubs, and small businesses around. I can’t imagine living anywhere else in London. It is amazing to be able to travel into central London in 30 min and still have endless woods at the back of the house.


Pregnant with Wilbur 

How hard is it to buy a house in the UK? Tell us about the process:
Very uncertain and very hard. We made the decision to only want to buy a townhouse on two roads in the whole of Leytonstone. Because those houses were wider than the average, as well as being in an amazing little area within Leytonstone called Bushwood.


When this house came onto the market I was away for the weekend with friends – so Matthew had to go view it alone. He sent me photos and I was sold – this was the dream house we’ve been waiting for. 24hrs later, me still away, we had to put an offer in. Each time we were told someone bid over. Closed bids are very common here in the UK. So you have to guess what other people are going to bid, and they will tell you if you are in or out. We were basically told we were out and didn’t get the house. We refused to believe it so we upped our bid significantly and got it!


There were 4 buyers and sellers in the chain, and we almost lost our house at the very end when our seller’s new house fell through. Luckily they decided to still go ahead with the sale of our house. It is not until the day you have the keys, you can be 100% it is yours. We stood ready with a moving van praying that all will be signed and keys exchanged. Luckily it did!


When you gave birth to your first son Leo you had an unplanned delivery at home in your bathroom. How was that?
Yes, that was a bit unexpected! I was about 38 weeks pregnant when my waters broke. Within 30 seconds the first – intense – contraction came. And after that, they came thick and fast, every 1-2 min. And 2 hours later I told my husband I could feel the head and we had to call an ambulance. They came within 5 min, with 30 seconds to spare before I gave birth. It was intense, the adrenaline was pumping and I was shaking like a leaf because of it. Wow, it was powerful –  but it did take me about 2 years to process. I could probably have done with someone to talk to about it but wasn’t given the opportunity. Until I visited the Swedish podcast Forlossningspodden and that was so healing.


Newborn Wilbur


… and compared to when Wilbur was born, how big are the differences between giving birth at home and giving birth with professional help at the hospital?
When pregnant with Wilbur we decided to plan for a home birth this time around, to avoid what happened last time – the unplanned bit. We were so lucky to be placed on the home birth team with our hospital, and I had the same midwife coming to our house for all appointments throughout the pregnancy.


On 1st of January 2020 at 6 am, when I was about 31 weeks pregnant, approx 3 hours after our New Year’s Eve guests had left. I woke up feeling I was peeing myself – but it was my waters breaking way too prematurely.


I managed to keep him in for 4 more weeks by being on total bed rest, only getting up to go into hospital to get checked every 2 days – blood, heartbeat, and ultrasounds. At 36 on the dot, I felt labour starting again. But this time our planned homebirth was not safe because of possible infections of the waters breaking so early, so Matthew called my homebirth midwife saying it was time and she said she’d come to the hospital with us.


Approx 2 hours later, in a tiny dimmed hospital room, with the support of my husband and our homebirth midwife, I gave birth to a healthy tiny baby boy weighing just over 2kg. After weeks of stress, he was here. And this time I was prepared for the intensity and quickness. I felt in control throughout.


Give some advice for a first-time mother in the UK:
Know your rights and know what you want. Knowledge is power in pregnancy, birth, and afterward.


For example – The first time around I just did what the Drs and nurses told me, totally clueless. But the second time around I knew my rights and my options. After Wilbur was born, the Doctors came and told me that both he and I needed antibiotics in preventative measures because of water breaking early before birth.


But after having read a lot about it, I only wanted to take it if there were signs of infection, as it cleans out all the good gut bacteria they are born with. I was telling them how none of us had any indication of infection and I refused it. 4 doctors came and almost bullied me into submission and even saying ‘we’ll speak to your husband about this. I was FUMING. Screaming and shaking saying that my husband will do what I SAY about MY CHILD. Shortly after that the head doctor came and apologized and said they can monitor his infection levels for 3 days, and if all is good after that, the antibiotics are not needed.


I am so proud that I stood my ground. And I do get that the hospital needs to follow protocol, but they could have dealt with it in a different manner.


Your maternity leave happened at the same time as the corona crisis, how do you manage to be home, nearly isolated, with a newborn, a three-year-old, and two dogs?  
I didn’t really – it was super hard and many tears were shed. But you just take each day at a time, get into a routine to not go mad. And ramp up the good things in life – such as takeaway, a glass of wine, or chocolate.


Dressed in second-hand pieces


You have a big interest in fashion: Tell us about your fashion journey and your passion for second hand:

I think it all truly started when I came to London and started hanging out on Portobello Road with my friend Moa. We spend every single weekend on the market looking for bargains and drinking wine and eating Thai food at the end of it looking at all the cool people walking past.


Second-Hand shopping started out as a way of getting big brands and cool pieces to bargain prices. This eventually opened my eyes to what impact fast fashion had on the planet, and I vowed to never buy fast fashion again.


And, congratulations to your new baby: Second Archive! You have just now built up your own business, tell us everything about it!
Thank you! It is so exciting. After a decade of buying second-hand for myself, I finally took the leap to see if I could make a business out of it. And I could!


I spent my whole maternity leave with Wilbur buying second-hand clothes online whilst feeding him in the night (no shops were open because of the lockdown). And I started selling them via Instagram. One year later, I have a website and weekly drops and I am loving every second of it!


Second Archive is committed to helping modern women shop in a more sustainable way and fall in love with premium preloved pieces at affordable prices. Its message is simple: second-hand can be crisp, fresh, and timeless in a very contemporary way. Second Archive is for women who want a wardrobe like Anine Bing, Clémence Poésy, and Jeanne Damas, without hurting the planet or your wallet.


Second Archive is a highly curated online second-hand boutique. Establishing itself with a clear – self-titled – Scandi Rock style, a place where Scandinavian simplicity and rock’n’roll meet. Think vintage Levi’s, rocker tees, unique coats, oversized blazers, designer handbags, and amazing leather boots.


Re worn treasures 


What are the biggest challenges in starting a business in the UK, and on top of it all, during Brexit and Corona? 
I think the biggest challenge is a mental one: Taking the leap to do it. What I realized is that I didn’t need to have a big stash of cash to start, and I didn’t need to know exactly how I was going to grow it. It was just about taking one first small step.


For me, that was setting up the IG account @secondarchive. After that, I just had to buy that first item to sell – which was a YSL bag. From the profit of that, I could buy two new things, from the profit of that, 5 new things. And so on. Now I sell over 100 items a month and I have major plans in the years to come.


I should also mention that I set myself up as a ‘self-employed’ via the government website which was very easy. I would also say outsource what others can do better than you. For me, that meant a tax man and someone building my website. I realized if I spent time doing what I am good at – the buying and selling part. Someone else can advise me and help me with my taxes, making sure I am doing it correctly. And my website was created by an incredible Swedish woman living in Australia, Ellen Larsson. She is a web wizard now working at Webflow.


When it comes to Brexit – the biggest challenge is my international orders, as all those parcels have to go through customs.


Looking for treasures…


Apart from Second Archive, where do you find the best second-hand pieces in London? 
It is a cliche – but I do absolutely love Notting Hill and Portobello road. I’d head there any day of the week if I needed to buy new stock for the shop. The market is great on a Friday, a bit less touristy, and more London living vibe.