Feature

How These Student Entrepreneurs Help Peers Look Good Without Paying Too Much

Kian Drew, Katrina Amos and Shannon Blackmore. Image: Submitted

FREDERICTON – Katrina Amos, Shannon Blackmore and Kian Drew were driven to start their own business when their trip to thrift stores ended up with them finding low-quality used clothing being sold for too high of a price.

So they decided to dig through their own closets and begin selling used and re-worked clothes as ReFind Clothing on Instagram.

“We wanted to start something new and a little bit different that would allow people to buy clothes at a more affordable price, and not have to spend hours and hours at the mall or at the store trying things on,” said Amos, a fourth-year human rights student at St. Thomas University.

“[Our goal] is to make people feel comfortable in what they’re wearing and be able to feel confident and find clothes that are right for them and their personalities.”

They also sell clothes that have been donated to them by family and friends. Customers can look through photos of the clothes and accessories on ReFind Clothing’s Instagram page with the price, size and description of the item in the caption.

Those interested can arrange for a purchase via “direct message.” Amos, Blackmore and Drew take turns to delivery items. Each sold item would have a “sold” posting in the comments section.

Only a few weeks into operations, ReFind Clothing has so far sold nearly 50 per cent of what’s available on their page. A vintage 90s jacket was recently sold for $17 and a David Bowie graphic t-shirt for $7. For now, all the money they make goes back into the business.

They chose Instagram as a platform because it not only fits the model of their business but because it appeals the most to their age group, Amos said.

“[They’re] kind of shying away from Facebook use, really,” she said. “We like the layout of Instagram and it’s very very easy, so many people have the Instagram app, and it just allows us to connect with a lot of people.”

But they’re planning to reach a wider audience with a Facebook presence.

“We’d do it in a very similar fashion on Facebook,” she said.

Blackmore’s background as a communications student at St. Thomas University has helped promote ReFind Clothing to the larger community. So they’re not only selling clothing to university students; they’ve also reached high school students, who told their friends, and older adults.

“There’s a huge market around students,” said Amos. “It’s very well known that millennials, and more so, millennial students, don’t have a lot of money. But we still like to dress nice, we still like to feel comfortable and so, we’ve seen an incredible demand just on the university campuses alone with this business.”

Clothes that don’t get sold after a month will be donated to Liberty Lane, a charity organization that offers housing for women and children who have experienced family violence. They’ll know in a couple of weeks whether their first month generated some clothes left for donations.

Amos and Blackmore are both fourth-year students at St. Thomas University and Drew is a second-year student at the University of New Brunswick. They also have part-time jobs. But they find time for the business because it’s a fun way to take a break from studying, Amos said.

“It gives us a really good chance to be active, be in the community, meeting lots of people,” she said.

This is their first business venture and it’s taught them a lot, Amos said. Though challenges might come as they plan to expand, she’s confident they can figure it out as they have been doing so far.

“It’s really exciting and it’s also extremely empowering to know that we’re capable of doing something like this by just a small idea and had it grown into an actual business,” she said. “It’s extremely exciting and motivating and gives us a glance into possibilities and what we might be interested to do in the future.”

It also helps them apply their education. Amos, a human rights student, is uncomfortable with the idea of fast-fashion and how that impacts developing countries.

“So in doing this we feel as though we’ve made a bit of a small difference by not encouraging the capitalist idea of constantly buying new things and throwing out old things,” she said.

As she and Blackmore prepare to graduate and move to different provinces, the trio has talked about taking the business to different areas or passing it over to other St. Thomas students. But for now, they’re just focusing on this academic year.