If you frequent the parlor of Dobbs Hall, live in the freshman dorm itself, or walk by it during Wonderful Wednesday, you have probably seen a few racks of eclectic colors and enticing fabrics. It is not uncommon to see the rows of clothing guarded by their petite and trendy owners, College sophomores Brittany Nguyen and Audrey Cheng, ever-present during the sunny bustle of Wonderful Wednesday. The pair are the co-founders of the small business Misthrifts, a pop-up thrift store that provides Emory students easy access to unique curated looks, ranging from brand new pieces to thrifted looks.
Cheng originally approached Nguyen with this “brainchild,” as Cheng first described the idea of the business, after meeting her while working on Emory’s student fashion magazine publication, (404), and noticed their shared open-mindedness, ambition and passion for beauty. She had hopes of creating easy access to quality styles that most students can’t afford — financially or time-wise.
As a sophomore advisor in Dobbs Hall, Nguyen notes that since freshman aren’t allowed to have cars, bringing an affordable retail (indeed, the average piece for sale seldom passes the $20 mark) specifically for Emory undergraduates would be a “win-win situation.”
Cheng and Nguyen obtain the clothing that is put on sale at blowout sales and thrift stores, where they go hunting on a weekly basis. They then set up a shoot with the models, who are usually friends with the co-founders. This intimate and personable aspect of the endeavor is one of the greatest and most unique parts of Misthrifts.
[quote_box name=””]”Most of the models are my personal friends; they’re all beautiful, but with how hectic school, extracurricular activities, and trying to get our lives together, sometimes they forget that or don’t see it themselves,” Nguyen said. “I love putting them in clothes that make them look and feel good, that’s why we are selling these specific clothes! Personal appearance has this therapeutic quality that I think everyone should invest in.”[/quote_box]
The social aspect of the business is also vastly appreciated by Cheng, as it keeps her motivation and passion leveled throughout the ups and downs of running a small business.
“My favorite thing about Misthrifts is the love and support I have from all my friends and even strangers,” she said. “It means a lot to me when someone comes up to me and says, ‘Aren’t you the one who is selling thrifted clothing on Wonderful Wednesday?’”
The weekend after the photo shoots, the photos are posted on the company’s Facebook page. “Social media is key,” Nguyen said. “I’m sure everyone on campus is tired of us by now from mass promotion.”
Indeed, social media has been one of the key pieces for the business, as well as one of the greatest challenges for the co-founders. Since the business is still in the early stages, social media promotion is heavily relied on for advertising and promotion of the Misthrifts name.
It is also one of the most consuming parts of the job, according to Nguyen. “I had to actually turn off notifications from Facebook and Instagram from the constant bombardment of them because it’s too tempting to be sucked into likes, shared photos, shout outs, etc. and forget about what’s going on outside my phone,” she said.
Nguyen also related her experience with Misthrifts to her academic pursuits as an Emory undergraduate student.
“As of now, I am double majoring in Business and Women’s Gender and Sexuality Studies. I’m really interested in how gender relations play into the context of fashion,” she said. “What makes some retailers and designers successful and others not? Is it an understanding of how consumers want to brand themselves, or how they’d rather stray away from capitalistic branding by utilizing fashion to their own ‘autonomous selves’?”
Cheng is utilizing her experience with Misthrifts differently, as means to explore and tailor her interests and passions. “Right now, it’s just an interest that I’m pursuing so I’m just going to roll with it. For me [working in the fashion industry in the future is] going to be a maybe,” she said.
Misthrifts has indeed been a particularly unique learning experience for Cheng and Nguyen, in regards to their professional, academic and even social lives. The novelty of the company is enforcing flexibility and “on-the-go” learning style, as Nguyen calls it, skills that will be essential for many future professional endeavors. Misthrifts is also an opportunity to witness a first-hand account of the role and power of marketing and how consumerism functions are related to specific factors such as age, gender and season.
The ultimate goal of the co-founders is to help students and themselves, and to maximize their experience and fulfillment while at Emory.
“We didn’t start Misthrifts as a way of getting bank. We did it because we’re really excited that something like this is even possible,” Nguyen said. “We’re learning something new every day, so to say what we hope to learn is such a vast terrain.”
-Caroline Ciric, Contributing Writer