Self Started, Self Made, Self Run: How three girls turned a hobby into a profession

TOWAMENCIN — Over the past few years, thrifting became the trendiest way to shop for young teenagers trying to save money and the planet. Now, many teens have changed the thrifting game by following the entrepreneurial path. Instead of opening their Instagram app to browse their feed, they clock into work. 

While some people have used Instagram as a way to get rid of old clothes from their closets, others have gone as far as reselling clothes from thrift stores—and they’ve created successful businesses by doing so.

1. @mochiiclothing (Anna Chen)

Prior to starting her own thrift account, Mochii Clothing, North Penn junior Anna Chen always liked the concept of having her own business, so when the opportunity came to her, she immediately took it.

“I had so many clothes that I wanted to get rid of, so I decided to sell them. I knew about the thrift community, so I thought it’d be a good idea for me to do the same. I also don’t like having my parents pay for my things, so it’s nice having my own money to spend,” Chen said.

When she started her account, she mainly sold clothes from her closet and put them at a set price. After some time, she decided to resell clothes from thrift stores and allowed her followers to bid on the pieces. Initially, she put the clothes in the poly mailers and shipped them out, but now, she personalizes the packages by including a small gift and a business card that she created using Google Docs.

“It was hard to make sales early on because I didn’t have that big of a following. I had to put a lot of time putting my name out there and the main way you do that is through doing shoutouts for shoutouts or buying page shoutouts. Since I was starting out, people also didn’t know if I was a reliable seller because there are people who scam. After I got a few buyers, I was able to make a proof highlight to help gain people’s trust. At first, I didn’t sell a lot, but I kept putting time into getting my name out there and getting people to come to my page,” Chen said.

Coming up with the name of her account, she chose mochi because she liked the Japanese rice cake. Originally, she considered including boba in the name, but she felt that mochi had a better ring to it.

Once she hit 1000 followers, Chen began to post more consistently and created planned drops. Hitting that milestone only took her about a month, and at the point, she saw more stability in her business.

When she goes thrifting, she bases most of the clothes she plans on reselling on what she would personally wear or what sells the best on her page. She also plans specific drops like a corduroy drop or a denim drop where she mainly sells a specific category of pieces. Currently, she doesn’t go out to thrift to stay safe from catching the virus, and instead, she thrifts online using apps like Depop or Vinted. 

“Sometimes, I’m just browsing what’s there or other times, I’m searching for specific items like cropped tank tops or cropped sweaters or corduroy button-ups,” Chen said. “Usually, I know what I want and I purchase things based on what I plan to do for a specific drop.”

Chen consistently browses for more things to buy, so she can resell them. Even if it doesn’t go with the specific drop that she is planning to release, she keeps them for the future. 

When Chen takes pictures of the clothes she plans on dropping, she ensures that she is taking them at a time where the sun is out and there’s good natural lighting. She also edits the pictures after, so it matches her feed. When she prepares the pictures to post, she has to create a caption that includes all of the details about the pieces. She allows her followers to have the choice to buy the item now (BIN) or bid on them, and it can get extremely competitive. Currently, she does drops every 3-4 days.

Chen saw that maintaining an aesthetically pleasing feed, remaining active on her account, doing daily shoutouts with other accounts, and staying personal with her followers allowed her to stay successful. She is currently working on expanding her business by distressing the jeans she buys and having a friend help her rework some clothes.

During the summer, she felt that it was easier to manage her account because she had more time. Now, school is her main priority, but she utilizes her breaks to update her account and she finds that being virtual has helped make running her account easier during the school year.

Over the past few months, Chen noticed that she enjoys having her own business because of all the freedom she gets when selling and all of the connections she’s made with others.

“I was happy that I was seeing results in the work I was putting into,” Chen said, “I just like running a business because it’s fun to see it grow. I also made friends with people from all over the country. One girl sent me something for my birthday, which was really nice. The community just hypes you up when you drop items. Everyone’s just so nice, and I love that.”

Since starting her store, she learned how to better manage her time, especially during school. She also learned how the result of anything is based on what you put into it. 

Chen recommends those that want to start their own thrift shops to be sure that they will dedicate their time to working on it. 

In order to be successful, you must put a lot into it, especially when you’re starting out.”

— Anna Chen

“You can’t run a business or put your name out there without taking the time and effort to do so. You need to be consistent with posting because, in order to be successful, you must put a lot into it, especially when you’re starting out,” Chen said.

In the future, she plans on continuing her business, even during college, but as a side job. For now, Chen is proud of how far she’s come creating this business. Although she often feels a sense of imposter syndrome or has doubts about her accomplishments, she pushes herself to recognize how fast her business has grown in such a short amount of time.

“I think the point where I’m at is good,” Chen said. “I’m proud of myself for how far I’ve come.”

2. @basicallyybroke (Laine Dubin)

North Penn senior Laine Dubin loves to shop for clothes. Even during quarantine when she couldn’t go out, she constantly searched for clothes online. When she realized that she could make a profit doing something she loves, she knew she couldn’t miss out on that opportunity.

Before she established her Instagram business Basicallyybroke, Dubin used Vinted, an online marketplace that allows users to sell and purchase second-hand clothing, for about a year. During that time, she wasn’t active on her account and only sold clothes from her closet once in a while. It wasn’t until she went on Instagram that she began to be more active in selling clothes.

The name Basicallyybroke came from the fact that Dubin loves to shop.

“I just kept spending a ton of money on stuff I didn’t need, and I ended up basically being broke, so when I came up with that name, I thought it was funny,” Dubin said. 

At first, she only sold items from her closet, but eventually, she started reselling clothes from the thrift store after she saw other accounts doing the same.

“At the beginning of quarantine, I decided to experiment with my closet and what I had already. There were things I didn’t wear and probably wouldn’t wear, but I knew that other people would wear them, so I thought why not give it to someone who would wear it?” Dubin said. “I would put out the more trendy clothes to sell first and once I ran out, I realized that I liked thrifting and making outfits, so I thought it would be a good idea to resell.”

To this day, it hasn’t even sunk in that Dubin has gotten successful with her business. In order to get to this point, Dubin had to utilize shoutout for shoutouts to gain attention from other accounts and ask her friends to follow the account. She also models her clothes and maintains a cohesive feed.

Dubin never goes in with a plan when she goes thrifting. For the most part, she shops with an open mind and focuses on looking for good finds. 

“I just try to look for things that I think are cool and that I would wear. There are so many accounts that sell name brands and trendy clothes already, and I just want to sell a hodgepodge of cool things or vintage things or one of a kind things,” Dubin said.

After she goes thrifting, Dubin reworks some of the clothes she bought, getting most of her inspiration from other Instagram accounts and Pinterest. She typically paints some of her jeans to make them more unique, which can take her days to work on.

“I followed a few accounts that reworked some of their clothes. They have amazing things and I bid on one of the pairs of jeans and I became obsessed with them. I wanted to try it out not just to sell, but also for myself. I was finding a bunch of cool jeans from the thrift store, and I decided to try it out,” Dubin said.

Dubin takes most of her pictures in the guest room of her house between the early afternoon to late evening. Sometimes, she takes it in between breaks during the school day. She also uses presets to filter her pictures to maintain an aesthetically pleasing feed.

Once people buy the clothes she puts up, she prepares to ship the next day, and sometimes, she goes during any of the free periods she has during the school day.

With the start of the school year, Dubin is in the process of learning how to balance schoolwork and her business. However, Dubin is still very active on her account because she utilizes the breaks throughout the school day to update her page.

One of the biggest things Dubin promotes on her page is body positivity. No matter what size you are, Dubin encourages her followers to feel confident in their skin.

“I have struggled with my own self-image and that ties in with why I even wanted to make this account. It is trendy to have a thrift account now, but so many of the accounts I know are mainly tailored to smaller sizes. There are so many people who struggle to find clothes in their size, and I just want to be that person who understands them and helps them out,” Dubin said.

“I’m in so many group chats with young girls with thrift accounts who are so demeaning to their bodies, and it hurts me,” Dubin said. “There are so many other things to focus on than what your body looks like. It infuriates me so much when young girls are comparing themselves to other girls.”

There are so many other things to focus on than what your body looks like. It infuriates me so much when young girls are comparing themselves to other girls.”

— Laine Dubin

Dubin loves the freedom to do whatever she wants when running her own small business.

“I’m my own boss. It’s kind of like entrepreneurship, but I don’t even know what I’m doing—I just go with the flow,” Dubin said.

Throughout this experience, Dubin was able to grow close to many girls in the thrifting community. She’s now mostly purchasing second-hand clothing to support other girls who also have thrift accounts.

“Everyone’s just inspiring each other and lifting each other up,” Dubin said. “They just want the best for each other. It’s just such an amazing community and it’s so important to be a part of that type of group because I get to meet so many positive and creative people.”

Everyone’s just inspiring each other and lifting each other up. They just want the best for each other.”

— Laine Dubin

In the future, Dubin doesn’t plan to turn this into a full-time job, but she would still like to continue it during college as a side job, similar to how it is currently. 

Dubin encourages anyone who is interested in starting their own thrift account to do it but emphasizes that they should have a plan.

“Have a direction and have ideas for where you want to take it or ways to diversify it. Be innovative and know that you’re going to make mistakes,” Dubin said.

Dubin is proud of where she’s at in her business and appreciates everyone’s support.

“I’m extremely grateful for everyone who has supported me along the way—friends, family, and even strangers,” Dubin said. “It warms my heart when other people tell me that they love my account and that my account inspires them.”

3. @oceanathrifts (Emily Shin)

It was another long, uneventful day in quarantine for North Penn sophomore Emily Shin. Running out of things to do, she began scrolling through her Instagram feed, which led her to the thrifting community. From there, she was inspired to create her own business.

“I love thrifting and I just wanted to start something myself and earn some money,” Shin said.

Shin created her account Oceana Thrifts during June. She came up with the name because she felt that it matched the aesthetic of her account. In the beginning, she had no experience in running a business, so she asked her friends and other accounts that she followed for advice and looked up how to do certain things on the internet. In order to make her account grow, she had to do shoutouts with other people, which is when accounts make posts about each other on their pages to encourage their followers to follow whoever they’re promoting.

“Even though I don’t have a large following, I noticed a rapid increase in followers in a short period of time. In a week, I gained a couple hundred followers,” Shin said.

During the process of sourcing the clothes she plans on selling, she focuses on the name of the brands and popular trends. Although they’re difficult to find, Shin tries to look for brands like Nike, Lululemon, and Brandy Melville, which are trendy brands that many of her followers are interested in. She typically shops once a week at local thrift stores.

Shin spends the afternoon on whatever day she is available to take photos of the clothes she plans on posting. After taking pictures, she edits them to make her feed look cohesive. Once the pictures are ready, she comes up with a caption and prepares to post.

“It’s not hard work, but it takes a lot of time,” Shin said. “I would spend a ton of time making everything neat and nice.”

To make her followers look forward to buying the clothes she plans on posting, she creates a specific drop like a leggings drop or an athletic drop.

“When I go thrifting, I check to see what there’s a lot of. If there are a lot of sweatshirts, I would create a sweatshirt drop, and if I get other good finds then I’ll save them for another drop,” Shin said.

Now that she has to balance school and her business, she tries to spread out everything she needs to do throughout the week. She goes thrifting during the weekends and plans her drops ahead of time. 

When her friends and family saw how much her account was growing, they were very supportive.

“My parents had never seen anything like this before, but they were happy that I was able to make money on the side without having to leave the house. My friends were also happy for me and even asked me to sell things for them,” Shin said.

Shin loves the fact that she could make a profit from doing something she loves. After running her own business for the past few months, she was able to learn how to be more responsible since she’s running it independently. 

“Running my own small business, I’m able to gain the perspective of how it’s not easy. I now understand what it’s like for small local places around us to keep their businesses running,” Shin said.

One of the biggest reasons why Shin thinks more people should thrift is because you could find one of a kind pieces. You could still make them your own, even if they were previously owned by someone else. 

She also encourages people to start their own thrift accounts because it can offer a great experience.

“If people are thinking about starting their own business, I’d say go for it. Even if it doesn’t work out, it’ll still be a great experience. As long as you work hard, you can do whatever you want to do,” Shin said.