More than a Project

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A couple months ago I was looking into the different textiles that are indigenous to Africa. I was wanting to learn more about them and understand what skills have been acquired and passed on throughout the decades. Within my Google search, a result appeared about an embroidery group in Africa and I quickly clicked the link.  I read all about a group of women in Venda, Africa and the incredible woman, Ina, who started the project.

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The wheels in my brain began turning and I knew I wanted to connect with her. I reached out with a business plan, documents with inspirational pictures, and more about how I wanted to join efforts with her and the women she works with. I quickly learned that while my ideas were good and inspiring they were not exactly feasible because of the Venda women’s situations, it didn’t sadden but more was an opportunity to learn and understand.

I knew I didn’t want my communication with Ina to end so soon so I reached out asking if she would be a part of a Q&A for my blog and she graciously accepted. Below are Ina’s answers to a few questions that will be inspiring to anyone who wants to be a part of something bigger and more impactful.

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Would you mind giving a little background about your life’s journey so far?

After completing a BA, BA Hons, MA (literature) I developed an interest in oral texts. I studied Sanskrit in order to read and study early Indian oral texts. As a lecturer at the Venda University, I then turned to African oral texts and did a P.HD in Venda oral tradition. Over a period of 6 years, I collected more than 50 Venda tales, translated from TshiVenda into English.  During my research, I became very concerned about the reality that the Venda have such a rich cultural heritage but live in abject poverty hardly managing to feed their families. I asked myself whether I could in any way use their unique heritage to help them earn some income. The idea of them embroidering their folk tales took shape and the storytellers and I  started by making a few drawings illustrating a folk tale. There were 2 objectives: (1) to ensure the perpetuation of this oral tradition and (2) to provide regular income and financial empowerment. Today many quilters in the USA and Europe are familiar with these tales and use their embroideries in many ways.

What have been the most rewarding parts of creating work and a program for these women?

The most rewarding is to see the development of self-esteem, the growth in confidence, the acquiring of new skills. I have three supervisors taking responsibility for many tasks: Eni Nenzhelele checks the quality of the embroideries before sending them to me and she also keeps and hands out embroidery yarn, Sani Mudau teaches and checks quality and Ema Vhengani orders yarn from me and she sends off finished embroideries to me from Postnet in Musina. Sending off a box of embroideries takes a full day: Ema has to walk from her home along a dirt road to a bus stop under a baobab tree, there she would wait for a ramshackle bus to arrive. Another hour in the bus to Musina. Late in the afternoon, she would arrive back home. “But I don’t waste time,” she tells me, “when I am on the bus or waiting under the tree I work on my embroideries. I don’t waste time.”
Their days used to consist of getting up, sweeping around the hut, walking distances to collect firewood and queueing to fill water containers. Now this group of women do embroidery all day long sitting in groups chatting, taking care of children, “we don’t have to leave our homes and go and work far-away” Alice tells me

What has been the most difficult?

The greatest difficulty is marketing. There is a limited craft market in South Africa. I have a few helpers who sell in Europe, the UK and the USA and I go to the Houston show every Oct/Nov. I do have a website and folk can order online but I am always looking for a bigger market. It is for me very sad when I have to send less fabric to the keen embroiderers because the demand is not so great.

What do you believe could be (or is) the most beneficial way to provide aid to developing areas of Africa where the people struggle for work, nutrition, etc.?

The most beneficial way to provide aid in developing countries would be to discover a sustainable, reliable market (for whatever) before training starts. African women will surprise you!

What do you believe the greatest opportunities are for women in Africa, who are in less than desirable conditions, to improve their lives?

In South Africa, these seriously disadvantaged, deep rural women, who are still crippled by cultures that discriminate against women,  could be taught skills e.g. embroidery, knitting, weaving,  or be helped to adapt their traditional skills  e.g beading, pottery and wood carving to high-quality products with a “handmade “label. (as opposed to mass production in the East). But once again Market comes first,

What do you see in the women you work with that inspire you and make you continue to grow the Tambani Embroidery Project?

I am inspired when I see the excellent quality of work that these women produce, I am humbled when I see how keen, diligent and honest they are.

What are some of the positive changes you have seen in the women since they have received work, bank accounts, etc.?

A while ago one of the embroiderers told me “I now have a reason to get up in the morning, the work is waiting for me in my embroidery basket.”

Nearly all of the women buy an 80 kg bag of maize meal with their embroidery money. This is the first thing they buy so that they can provide one meal per day for their family (anything from 7 – 12 people.) It is very little food, but many Venda women try to keep a vegetable garden going for spinach, tomatoes, and onions. The embroiderers who have a bit of extra cash can afford a bag of chicken feet, one chicken foot per person is the usual daily meal.

The embroiderers mentioned to me that the embroidery money helped them to buy school uniforms for their children. Without a uniform, a child cannot go to school. Mothers could buy sanitary pads for girls, without that girls were absent from school for a few days per month.

There is a dramatic increase in confidence and a sense of self-worth in a woman who has her own cash and bank account

What do you see African women trying to pursue the most in their lives?

I cannot speak for all African women, but the Venda women that I know would like to move out of the poverty cycle, have adequate food and education for their children.

What advice could you offer to someone wanting to start a business with a similar mission as yours?

Tambani is not a business as such; it is a job creation project, a women for women thing.I assist them. They work for themselves under my mentorship.

I also chose not to register as an N.G.O as I prefer not to be controlled by others. This is probably the harder route to go. As a NGO you do qualify for state assistance but in our country state assistance is unreliable.

I would suggest that anyone who would be interested in starting such a project under whatever terms first do considerable research to establish if there is a viable potential market for what one has in mind. There are many such projects all over the country, some do well, and some fold after a while because they cannot sell their goods.

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I am also so excited to say that I am going to begin selling the embroideries in the United States, please reach out if you are interested in purchasing one. I will have more images once they arrive in the mail! So stay tuned!

Degrees of Difference

Money is something we hear about all the time, whether it is because we are making a purchase and hearing a total, reading articles about billionaires and how they made it, quotes about how money can’t buy happiness, and the list can go on and on. It is a battle for me at times, I go back and forth from being content with my salary to wishing I made more to wanting no money at all (despite that being quite unrealistic).

Last week I got brunch (seriously if you are ever driving through the northern suburbs of Chicago, check out the Shanty, I swear you won’t be disappointed!)  with my childhood best friend. She’s the total package: exotically gorgeous (long wild curly blonde hair, green eyes, tall, and you get the point), very intelligent, funny, and down to earth. She graduated in May and now works as an environmental engineer. She worked incredibly hard for her degree and dominated in a program where she would tell me she was typically one of three girls in her lectures. When she got that job offer, I was so proud and happy for her. Upon devouring our food she began telling me about some of the opportunities and recognition she has already received. But then the conversation took a different turn when she said, “okay, I’m just going to tell you how much money I am making…” and proceeded to declare her already increased salary since she started just months ago. It continued into her telling me how much her boyfriend was offered for the job he will be starting once he graduates and how she plans on making more than him once she starts receiving bonuses. I kept relatively quiet aside from the initial “Wow, that’s really impressive, congrats”

Don’t get me wrong, she has worked hard to get to the point she is at. However, she was sitting across from someone who is in the creative side of business and does not make the salary of an engineer. While I was saddened that she let the conversation take that turn without any initiation to find out her salary on my part, I self-reflected and wondered if I made the same salary as her, would I be bothered by her lack of humility or would I join in the bragging and boasting?

I certainly can’t answer that. But what I do know is the type of person I recognize myself as and what is important to me, and money and competition is not at the top of that list. In a book I recently read called, ‘The Blue Sweater‘ the author, Jacqueline Novogratz, early on in her career left the life of Wall Street to go to Africa to build loan programs and much later in her career turned down an opportunity to do work she was passionate about that would have given her a six to seven figure salary to do something she was more passionate about and that would bring her greater happiness. That is incredibly inspiring and her actions show what is truly important to her.

While I someday want to have a life path similar to that of Novogratz, I also know that there are ways to use money and status for good and to promote change. A strong case for that is Meghan Markle. A post she wrote on her blog, The Tig, she talked about the controversy she gets about how she can do more for other people and sympathize with those who live in poverty when she part of the 1%. She acknowledges that her career has given her not only the opportunity to provide for herself but has given her the opportunities to go overseas and help and see those in different living situations and become a global leader and citizen. She eloquently talks about how she lives in two different worlds and how she has made the two positively converge.

So, I would like to say I know what I would do in the situation of my friend, but I don’t. I really do hope that someday in the near future I have actions which will prove what my real motivations and passions are so I don’t just have to speak of them. Because as the well know phrase goes, actions speak louder than words.

A Little Restitch to ReThread It

It really is crazy how people have a way of subconsciously creating priority lists in their minds. For me, it seems to be: work, ride my horse, see friends/family, workout, read, catch up with online social life (Pinterest, Twitter, this blog, etc.).  With a day beginning at 5a.m. fitting everything in can be tough because between some of those commas I need a breather and a lot of coffee.

However, I have to admit, the time away made me realize that I am looking to change my voice, tone, and some topics on this blog. I have begun to realize what is genuinely important to me and what I was forcing to make important. And to say the above a little differently, I realized what I already am and want to enhance and what I am, unnaturally, attempting to make myself.

I feel there is no better time than now to make this pivot. Today, a big change is going on in America. I have found myself writing down a lot of quotes that President Obama has said over the past couple weeks. His drive home points about “change only happens when ordinary people get involved” is what has been stuck in the back of my mind. It doesn’t have to be the person with an MBA from Harvard, the one who has had access to unlimited opportunities because of being born into a wealthy high status family, etc., while it of course can be those people, it can also be the person who wholeheartedly believes in something bigger than themselves and that being just one person is enough.

It has taken me some time to not only realize this, but more importantly, believe in the truth of President Obama’s above quote. For a long time, I had the mindset that if I can’t change the world and everything at one time then it will be a waste of time, that unless I “change the world” anything less won’t positively impact anything or create change.  I, then,  came to the realization that if I could positively affect and impact even just one life, then that would be enough. From the time that mindset set in, there has been no going back.

A quote that helped strengthen this mindset is one attributed to Elizabeth Anne Anderson Stanley and it reads, “Success: to laugh often and love much, to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children. To earn the appreciation of honest critics, endure the betrayal of false friends. To appreciate beauty, to find the best in others, to leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch, or a redeemed social condition. To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived; this is to have succeeded.” To me, this quote summarizes the beauty of being mundane and the power of it.

So my goal is to embrace the ordinary girl I am and know that being ordinary is a super power because I can make it anything I choose.

( ironically enough, my Yogi tea quote today was, “if you are helping somebody, you are awakening somebody”)

How Fashion Can Be More

There are people who think fashion can be shallow, unethical, and unimportant. That there are so many better things to spend money on and so many other things to care about. In some aspects I won’t disagree with that… health and family are obviously more important; however, fashion offers a lot for people around the world as well as the wearer. It could be wearing a brand that is providing a job for an artisan across the globe, it could be letting others see you are a strong put together woman without having to mutter a single word, or allowing yourself (the wearer) to stand a little taller and do a little better because what you are wearing gives that boost of confidence.

In the December 2016 issue of Vogue I ran to my kitchen drawer and grabbed a highlighter to capture the line that was written in the ‘Letter from the Editor” section which reads,     “(Michelle Obama) understood from the very beginning that how she put herself together could underscore the optimistic, progressive, and empowered role she took in her day to day life.” There is a lot that can be said about this. When one of the women who has become one of the most inspiring and influential for not only women in America but for women around the world finds that how she dresses allows her to showcase and add to who she is as a person then it can, undoubtedly, do wonders for any woman.

A prominent figure who puts an amazing face on who young women and girls should aspire to be is, Emma Watson. While I am sure the majority of young women know this seeing as she wears ethical apparel brands, stands up for womens rights around the world, is college educated from an ivy league, and carrys herself in a way that make you wonder if she was a princess in another life and will, ironically enough, being playing one soon. There is no doubt that Emma Watson has achieved a lot and while her fame has likely helped in some sense she has worked hard for the life she has created for herself and in turn for other, and what she wears is one way she signifies that. Below, however, are three women who did not get there start on TV and have created brands and movements as strong as anyone in Hollywood could do.

The first young woman that has made a notable life for herself is, Jessica Hendricks Yee. She was just on the 2016 Forbes 30 under 30 for her brand, The Brave Collection. Jessica acted upon her traveling, love for jewelry, and desire to see an end to human trafficing and created this successful and stunning brand. She has been featured in Teen Vogue, Forbes, Who What Wear, and many others. Also look above and click on her name to be taken to her Instagram, it’s as stunning and heart melting as her brand. OH and another side note, aside from Jessica being a total girlboss her husband as of February, Patrick Yee, is also a total catch being the VP for marketing and strategy for Refinery29. They are exactly what I call a power couple.

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Going along with Jessica is Sarah Buchanan founder of The Kula Project. She has taken a product adored by so many all over the world and made it a way for those in Rwanda to have an income and provide for their families, send kids to school, and pay for medical expenses, by harvesting coffee beans. Through her market merchandise can be purchased that helps fund the coffee farmers. One product that I plan on ordering is the Coffee Tree Bracelet which provides a farmer with one coffee tree. The company, mission, and products are all worthy of attention and support.

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The final powerhouse I am going to talk about is Becky Straw who founded The Adventure Project. She has created a program that provide tools for those living in poverty to start their own businesses and, in turn, help others in their community find work. A quote from Becky that I couldn’t agree with more is, “Aid is always appreciated, but a job has the power to move an entire family out of poverty forever.” While this company does not directly relate to fashion, it did not go unnoticed by the artistic, Diane Von Frustenburg who awarded Becky with a $50,000 grant on behalf of the DVF Award. It takes one impactful moment to realize that you want to do something more, and that is what created all of this for Becky Straw.

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I only hope these women and brands are new and inspiring to you. I think it proves you dont have to come up with an idea like Tesla or be an adorned public figure to do something that helps to change the world. It also proves that what you put on your body showcases what is important to you. And wearing products that are giving back is a positive way to portray yourself… or at least I think so!

A Textile Journey – Q&A with Writer, Traveler, and Textile Enthusiast, Sheri Brautigam

I am currently planning a trip to Mexico and while I was on the hunt to determine where to go in order to see the most textiles and rich culture I came across the blog, Living Textiles of Mexico. After checking it out I realized up to this point in the creator’s, Sheri Brautigam, life this woman has done so much of what I want!

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Sheri recently published a book, Textile Fiestas of Mexico (image below), and since reading it I realized how incredibly original it is. The book is truly a “guide” and something that belongs in the front pocket of anyones suitcase while traveling to Mexico in search of great culture and textiles. It has knowledge and tips that only someone who has experienced it first hand (and many times) would know; from the markets to shop, festivals to attend, and the best locations to sleep, visit, and eat, Sheri provides invaluable insight and knowledge between two covers.

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Even though Sheri is on the road promoting her book she took the time to answer a few questions as well as provide amazing pictures about her life and book. I wrote the questions in a way that will appeal, most especially, to those in their twenties; millennials (including myself) seem to be a generation that wants to travel as much as possible and live the life of their dreams and I think Sheri’s answers are inspiring.

When you were in your twenties did you know what you wanted to do with your life?

I thought Advertising / Journalism would be an interesting career (sorta like MAD MEN) and it was the 60’s so it was glamorous. I should have gotten into Journalism part because that’s more or less what I’m doing now, documenting and storytelling. But when I went to Mexico then my focus totally changed.

Did you have any idea you would be on the amazing traveling and culturally immersive path you are on?

No idea! I hadn’t traveled anywhere until I lucked into a ‘winter quarter’ in Mexico City. It was so cosmopolitan and exotic that I decided to stay. I earned my BA degree in Latin American History/Art History. This set the course for great adventures in Mexico.

With everything you have experienced over the years between traveling back and forth to Mexico (as well as living there!) and seeing the change in the fashion industry (especially in the US and Europe), what do you believe would allow indigenous groups to become more affluent?

Indigenous women want to stay home and care for their families and so the development of coops for marketing/selling purposes has been successful. Now Mexican designers and fair-trade design groups are working with these artisans – helping them with product development so it is getting better for the artisans and coops.

Do you believe there is a mutually beneficial collaboration that could occur between the indigenous textile artists of Mexico and the American fashion industry?

You do have to have a cultural orientation with the artisans you are working with. Designers that are successful have taken time (years) to develop relationships and created ways to support their artisans beyond just buying and reselling their stuff. It’s much more than just ‘showing-up’ and trying to source materials. You need to know how their culture works and the constraints they live with (i.e not having the money for the base materials: threads, dyes etc.) or the rainy season that makes it impossible to get into the commercials centers, etc. It’s much more complex than just ‘sourcing’ things.

What advice would you give to someone (especially those in their twenties) if they want to pursue their passion of textiles/culture?

First, learn the language of the culture you are wanting to work with. Live there and immerse yourself. You’ll be trusted more after you develop relationships and show yourself to be culturally sensitive and trustworthy. It’s not about just ‘showing up’ and buying things!  Although this can work on a beginning level while you are learning the ropes.

Are there any books, websites, mentors, influential figures, etc., that helped you along your journey or were a great learning tool for you?

Honestly, there was no internet/google to gather information when I began this journey. I’m a very inquisitive person so it was all the adventure of being given a tip or seeing some amazing embroidery the ladies in some of the remote village were doing and jumping on a truck carrying mangos to the local market and hitchhiking up there. This was in the early 70’s in Guatemala. I found the ladies and their embroidered 10 lb huipiles/garments  and the whole village showed up to sell to me. Scary but true. Follow your intuition – ask around (read my book! hahaha) get online. The information is out there if you really want to know. I had to figure it out before there was internet, blogs, and electronic tools. Also remember there were BOOKS! Chloe Sayer did research in the 70’s in Mexico on artisania/textiles but the earliest explorers were the Cordry’s who went out on horseback in the 40’s to explore textile culture in the remote indigenous villages.

What is one of your favorite experiences or moments to date?

WOW…that would be difficult to answer as there are many. But since I’m in-the-moment — I’d say ‘what ever I’m experiencing NOW’  is my favorite.

While I am sure all of the textiles you see have stuck a chord with you in some sense, what textile or garment continues to blow you away the most?

Since I myself was a textile artisan/designer for 20 years in San Francisco, I’m constantly amazed and impressed with the amount of skill, workmanship, and focus it takes to make some of these beautiful textiles. The best back-strap weavers in Mexico are the Amuzgos of Oaxaca and Guerrero. Their work is exquisite and very fine. Then, there are older embroidered Tehuana costumes of the Isthmus of Tehuantepec which must have taken months to complete. Frida Kahlo loved them too. These are my favorites but there are many many more wonderful items.

What work do you see yourself continuing to do? What are your goals for the next 5 or 10 years?

My job, as I see it, is to educate people about the wonderful world of traditional textiles that are alive and well in Mexico. I will continue to explore different groups in remote areas and tell their stories the best I can. The goal is to support the artisans so they will continue to do their beautiful work and pass their skills onto the younger generation. Bringing the world of Mexico to appreciative collectors and travelers, one reader at a time. Oh, and bring your friends with you!

Now that your book is for sale and you are promoting it, what is the biggest takeaway or hope you want someone to get from reading it?

Go to Mexico and explore the traditional culture and artesania/arts and crafts. Feel safe!! It’s such a beautiful place and the people are so gracious and kind and especially talented. It’s a place to expand your heart and develop appreciation for a more complex and older culture than your own.

How did you know it was time for you to write this book?

I had been documenting textiles for about 10 years total and I had about 40k images on just one computer. I had done this for myself. The images were about to seize up my iBook! I had to do something with them! I explored the possibility of publishing by talking to friends in the business, who told me how difficult it would be to find a publisher for my idea. They said I’d have to publish it myself.  But I just kept an open mind and discovered my publisher THRUMS was ALL about ethnic textiles. I finally got their attention! It took about 2 years of exploring the publishing world. Keeping an inquisitive open mind is the key. Don’t stress about it either! The publishing business is in transition right now and it’s really a crap-shoot for them to take on a new author or project.

It’s super expensive to publish these books. If you think you are going to make money on a project like this – forget about it! It’s a service project really – for the love of textiles and Mexican culture!

You mentioned in a different interview (with Hand/Eye Magazine) that writing books like this is, typically, for a niche market. How did you know your idea for a book would interest people to pick it up?

There was no way to know anything!!! Honestly! Since I was a textile designer in my past life, I’m very project oriented. So I made a small iBook with some of my best images which showed my visual concept….how the story would read etc. My publisher saw this and immediately called me to make a contract because she was looking for someone to do a guide on Mexican textiles. It was a meeting of the minds. Being in the right place at the right time. Pure and simple. If you know what you want to do and can articulate or show an example – that’s 1/2 the work in writing a book or developing a product. Living in Santa Fe, NM – I personally knew a lot of people who love Mexico and visit often and they are thrilled to have a guide to take with them and share with friends. I think the timing is right.

 

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Sheri’s first documentation project with the Mazahuas of Santa Rosa de Lima

 

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Mazahua ladies in the process of weaving an 8-pound skirt on the back strap loom.

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This image and the one above are of ladies in their traditional handwoven huipiles up in the Chinantla area of Oaxaca. This area of Oaxaca is very remote.
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Sheri wearing one of the unique quechquemitl garments of Cuetzalan, State of Puebla Mexico

Talking with Sheri was truly a pleasure and her book is available on her Etsy shop as well as Amazon. The information inside is one of a kind and truly invaluable and the quality of the images is incredible. I recommend it to anyone interested in textiles or anyone who will be traveling to Mexico.

If textiles interest you as much as me since they are an incredible way to learn about the history and different cultures all over the world then make sure to follow Sheri’s blog Living Textiles of Mexico!

For extra reading options check out the blog and online site, House of Wandering Silk. They do a series of blog posts titled, “Around the World in 80 Textiles” which talks about different textiles; it is definitely worth checking out!

NYFW Street Styles Brought Home

Welcome to my first photo shoot! I know there is some work to be done and the good camera is in another city with another sibling BUT I wanted to get these up!
The outfit combines some of my favorite street style trends which include: velvet, leather skirts, and mid-calf booties. I hope you enjoy the look!
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Skirt: Faux Leather: Red by Saks Fifth Avenue: Saks off Fifth
Top: Silk: Thrifted
Sunglasses: Lucky Brand: Marshals

Holes in Used Apparel

This post has been sparked because of the September 2016 issue of Inc. The September issue features the 500 fastest growing private companies in America. I always pay the most attention to the ones under the category ‘Consumer Products Services’ because it is where apparel companies, if any, are listed. This year I noticed a company called Shop Melee listed at 231 with a three-year growth of 1724.2%. Upon checking it out, it is a used apparel consignment shop. I was impressed, to say the least, so it got me looking into other online consignment retailers.
The one that most of this article will be written about is ThredUp, mainly because it is really well branded and probably one of the fastest growing and well known second-hand shops online. The site is competitive. I think they have great prices and products; however, even after narrowing it down to my sizes, when I scrolled to the bottom of the first page to hit ‘next’ my eyes widened when I saw there were 602 pages (57,772 items). How in the world am I supposed to get through all of that?! I mean, sure, I don’t have to but I feel like if I don’t I could be missing out on the most fabulous item just because I couldn’t (didn’t) hit ‘next’!
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I also struggle because I have been going to my favorite consignment shop in Lake Forest, Illinois (image below) for quite some time and the prices and products are unbeatable. To list a few, I have bought a Henri Bendel sweater and a Neiman Marcus Cashmere sweater both for $10 and Christian Dior silk scarves for $5 so it makes it hard for me to press “add to cart” on a similar items that costs $60 or more.
During these thoughts I decided there is an incredible “hole” in this industry that someone could really use to build an empire. Similar to the model Everlane has built, by making the margins more reasonable and transparent it could really lead to turning a greater profit. Based on what I calculated from ThredUp’s website where they list what sellers receive when they “donate” (see above image) ThredUp is making gross margins of about 80% or higher (i.e. giving the seller an amount of $1.50 and turning around and selling it for $15).
There is, from what I have found, no used clothing site that shows the used apparel on a body. Most of the time they are dress forms. While that, undoubtedly, makes photography go faster since they are receiving so much product and want to turn it around as fast as possible, it is just not the same as seeing clothing draped on a real body. The photography is professional and high quality, there is no doubt, but there I think clothing being on a body is an essential element of getting the item sold.
As has been seen with new emerging companies from Loot Crate (featured in Inc. as #1 on the list with a three-year growth of 66,788.6% which is almost double the growth of the company sitting at spot #2), Rent the Runway, ZipCar, Ipsy, Trunk Club (Summer 2015 intern 👋🏼), Dollar Shave Club (also on Inc. 500 at #65 with a three-yearr growth of 4191.3%) etc., there is a huge demand for subscription services. The sharing economy is also greatly increasing, people are seeing the value in sharing gently used products as opposed to spending an eye-popping full price amount. With people seeing the value in both, this is another opportunity for those who enjoy thrifting and vintage to move into.
The greatest aspect of monthly subscriptions is the chance for the company to continually WOW the customer and make them continue the subscription indefinitely. This is scary, though, because it is also the area for the greatest failure. Each month the company MUST learn their customer more and more and make the subscription more tailored to his/her needs. If each box comes and is more like the customer than even THEY realize, then gold has been struck. If month after month the customer doesn’t feel as though their likes and dislikes are being taken into consideration, then the customer will likely not continue with the subscription. Consumers are expecting more these days in customer service and while a company may have thousands of subscribers each person should never feel as though they are just a number when their monthly gift arrives. If this is tapped and understood, profits will follow.
For vintage lovers and thrifters going on the treasure hunt is a part of all the fun. Keeping that element a part of a service is important and something that should be leveraged. I think a smart way of doing this would be to list where the item was gotten and some history (or as much as can be found) on it. This will allow the customer to pass the word on about the garment or accessory and also be a great way for word of mouth marketing. Making a vintage lover feel as though they were a part of the selecting journey will make it a really unique and personal experience.
All in all, I think there are strong vintage and used websites out there but I also think there is A LOT of room for growth and opportunity…it just needs to be found (no pun intended).
Here are some of the online consignment shops I looked into when writing this post: