Jostling for a front-row spot, Ivy Jones and Kassidy Litchenburg plan their shopping strategy among other eager shoppers. When a Goodwill employee finishes counting down, they sprint to sort through massive laundry bins of secondhand clothes.
Before COVID-19 arrived in Austin in March, advertising sophomore Jones and Litchenburg, a communication and leadership sophomore, endured this madness at thrift stores around Austin.
Now, the pair don masks and keep their distance from other shoppers to seek out unique finds such as funky scarves and embroidered tops to sell through their Instagram-based company, RethreadATX.
“We can get wrapped up in it because it doesn’t feel like work a lot of the time,” Litchenburg said. “We struggle with wanting to do Rethread more than we want to do school.”
Last year, Jones and Litchenburg started thrifting together and later turned their hobby into a business. The duo launched the account, @RethreadATX, in January 2020 and celebrated the one-year anniversary of their first sale on Jan. 29.
When shopping for Rethread, Jones and Litchenburg said they try to purchase brands that don’t participate in fast fashion, the process of producing cheap clothes which can harm both the environment and the workers producing the clothes.
"I grew up thrifting with my mom … so I wasn’t ever super involved in fast fashion," Jones said. "When we started Rethread and I became close friends with Kassidy, my eyes were opened to other (issues) besides fast fashion."
To prepare for a new Instagram release, they spend a week washing the clothes, logging prices, planning models’ outfits, photographing the models and editing the photos. The girls post new photos every Thursday at 6 p.m., and customers either comment on the post or direct message the account to purchase items.
“Our goal is not to totally transform our buyers into buying all secondhand because we understand that that’s really hard,” Litchenburg said. “Our goal is to be that middleman that goes and does the work so that more people are encouraged to secondhand shop.”
Since Rethread’s conception, Macy McFarlin, a human development and family sciences sophomore, has been a frequent buyer. McFarlin owns about 30 pieces and said she feels good about her large collection because she’s supporting a small business and sustainable fashion.
“My favorite part of (Rethread) is the convenience to still do a good thing for the Earth and for your bank account with the convenience of being able to just buy from an Instagram shop,” McFarlin said.
Bailey Fitzhugh, one of Jones and Litchenburg’s close friends and a human development and family sciences sophomore, has modeled for Rethread since February 2020.
“They for sure are doing things for the right reasons, and it’s really cool to watch them learn about business and how to make it something that helps others and also is sustainable,” Fitzhugh said.
Jones and Litchenburg plan to run Rethread throughout college with a focus on keeping it lighthearted. Although Rethread isn’t completely waste-free, the pair hopes it will be someday.
"It's fun to leave it open-ended and not have specific (criteria) we feel like we need to meet or a standard we want to live up to," Jones said. "Because we started it for fun, I think that has carried on and led us to where we are."
Editor's Note: This story first appeared in The Daily Texan's February 12 print edition.