Why I Founded Shop Tomorrows a Secondhand Marketplace for Modern Parents
My Love for Secondhand
I am a child of the 1980s in New York City. By the time I could take my little allowance to the shops, Manhattan was teeming with vintage stores and flea markets that marked the fashion scene of the 90s. That’s where my love for secondhand began, only I didn’t recognize it at the time.
You could say it was in my blood. My father, an immigrant from Eastern Europe, had made his way to Brooklyn with his parents just after the second world war. The work of the “garmento” was one of the only opportunities available to my grandfather, so he cut his teeth on the cutting room floor of a polo shirt factory at the edge of Prospect Heights. Being raised by garment workers fostered in my father a deep appreciation for well-made garments. He understood the importance of clothes made to last, and passed that value on to me. So from the first cut to the final stitch, I knew from a very young age that there was someone behind those garments that clothed us.
My parents divorced when I was very young, and weekends with my father revolved around partaking in all things secondhand in New York City. We rarely bought a thing, but we loved to amble through the Chelsea flea markets, the downtown vintage clothing stores and the antique shows on the Hudson River piers. Learning about the objects, items and clothes made me appreciate them more. Though I can’t pretend my father had sustainability in mind, he did pass on to me the lesson that objects have meaning, are imbued with value, and deserve to be treated with care and given a second life — and that preloved could be pretty cool!
It’s no wonder that this became my career — and my calling. I loved my work as a Manhattan costume designer and stylist, working with the Metropolitan Opera, Madonna, and Conde Nast — but I was always disturbed by the amount of clothing wasted at the end of the shoot day for which I was responsible. Per year, I was personally contributing to nearly $1 million dollars of clothing and scenery that had nearly no life beyond its immediate use in an opera, film or commercial. This practice left me unsettled and motivated me to study textile and fashion sustainability, and ultimately to teach this subject in universities throughout the Northeast.
A Family Discards 70 lbs. of Textiles Annually
Once my twins were born in 2017, I was faced with an epic amount of clothing waste right in my very own home. Within weeks, I found myself buried deep in piles of pink ponies pjs and blue bunny onesies. I had so much outgrown clothing and yet needed much more because, as any parent laments, they grow so fast.
At first, I succumbed to fast-fashion and with every mall haul, my skin crawled. How was I buying into the very practices that I preached against to family, friends and students? I knew too much about the waste levels in landfills — in New York City alone, about 400 million pounds of textiles are thrown away annually. I was aware of the issues caused by mass retailers’ practices, and the toll the manufacturing process takes on our precious natural resources.
I had long been a proponent of secondhand for myself. My closet is a pretty fabulous mix of high and low with the best of the bunch being preloved. But secondhand was failing me for my own kids from both sides — as a seller and as a buyer. Consignment yielded pennies on the dollar and didn’t provide enough earnings to buy me my next round of clothing. I hated to think that the life of all of those clothes ended at my kids’ when so many of the garments were barely worn and had a perfectly good second life. Plus, the clothes carried memories. They meant something. But into the basement they went, because there was no economical or sustainable solution. Couldn’t they magically turn into clothes that fit? The answer was, eventually… yes!
So, what does a Manhattan fashion stylist stuck in the sticks of the burbs with newborn twins do when she needs new clothes and wants to save money and the world? She builds a company! So with #twinning #momlife in full gear, I founded Shop Tomorrows with a simple mission: To create a single solution that puts the abundance of quality used kid stuff back into the parent-ecosystem, keeps it out of storage and landfills, and harnesses the value of those idle piles. We provide modern parents with a cost-effective yet curated system that turns yesterday’s items into currency for tomorrow’s purchases, without ever exchanging cash. Through networks, neighborhoods and communities, we are digitizing the hand-me-down network and expanding your 1000X.
How It Works
Here’s how the magic happens: With advances in tech and the power of community, we provide parents with a curated platform that turns yesterday’s items into currency for tomorrow’s purchases, At Shop Tomorrows, clothes are exchanged without cash — buyers just pay a $4.99 service fee when making purchases. Sellers earn tokens by uploading photos of their kids’ clothes and setting the token price. Once a member purchases, the goods are exchanged via mail or a predetermined drop off location. Buyers can filter clothes based on things like location, size and type, and they can “purchase” the items using their tokens earned from creating a profile, selling items or purchasing them in bulk ($1 = 1 token) for their Shop Tomorrows “Wallet.”
My beloved dad passed away two years ago, but his legacy lives on through us, the parents who are building better tomorrows for our children through our conscious consumption. It is my deep desire to pass down to my kids, and to all of our children, a better world with less waste than the one we inherited. Because great clothes shouldn’t cost you — or our kids — the planet.
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