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Pop some tags at Mukkle Thrift - a Jamaican Thrift shopping experience

Saturday, June 15, 2019
Present at Mukkle Thrift's last thrifting pop-up experience were teenAGE writers Trevann Hamilton and myself (Char).
Neither of us had ever been thrifting before but we showed up curious about the experience to be had buying pre-owned clothes. Personally, having gone along with my friends with no real aim other than to keep them company, I was surprised to find myself drawn in by deals and the ease of the shopping experience curated by Mukkle Thrift's team. And just when I was really enjoying the experience, advising my friends on whether or not they should really get those blouses, and gleefully grasping a few items myself, I was further awed by learning that Mukkle Thrift's proceeds go towards supporting various charities.
Mukkle Thrift has four co-founders: Ysabelle Hughes, Kathryn Lee, Leah Brown and Sarah Miles. Ysabelle, 22, is a student at University College London, Kathryn, 20, is a student at The University of the West Indies, Leah, 20, is a student at Hillsborough College, and Sarah, 20, is a student at McGill University. While the co-founders are all currently pursuing different degrees ranging from Sociology and Law to Anthropology and Science Policy, they all share a common goal of wanting to play their parts in the growth of our island nation, Jamaica. Graciously, they all assert that their respective roles are equally crucial to the smooth running of Mukkle Thrift, and that playing to each others' strengths and skills helps them to work together to create that larger 'mukkle'.
To learn a thing or two about thrifting, get to know Mukke Thrift's co-founders and learn about their mission and how you can help, read below our interview with Mukkle Thrift.
teenAGE: What is Mukkle Thrift? And what is Mukkle Thrift's mission?

Sarah Miles: Mukkle Thrift is a charity pop-up thrift shop where patrons can purchase pre-loved clothing at an affordable price, whilst helping various causes across the island. Thrifted items are curated from donations that we receive from the public, and are re-sold for $1,500 JMD or less. The clothing not sold is donated to boys' and girls' homes, and other charitable organisations that provide clothing to those in need. Mukkle Thrift's mission is to encourage sustainable practices across Jamaica [as] our island's future depends on it. The effects of fast fashion are detrimental to our planet as clothing often ends up in landfills; thrifting is a means of saying 'enough is enough' and lengthening the life cycle of clothes in order to keep them out of landfills. Beyond encouraging sustainability, all of our proceeds go toward charitable organisations across the island, from educational causes to environmental causes, to build the future that we envision for Jamaica. 

 teenAGE: What inspired the name?

Leah Brown: The concept of 'Mukkle Thrift' is a twist on the old saying that “every mikkle mek a mukkle”, a  saying that we all heard growing up. It means that every little thing you do matters and adds up to the bigger picture, and that is exactly how Mukkle Thrift sees itself. It is all about being intentional and purposeful in everyday activities to simply make a positive impact on our country. Every little donation, every dollar or every person that comes to our pop-up shops count; they are the 'mikkle' to our 'mukkle'. These efforts accumulate to make a greater impact on our island. We would not be able to pull off Mukkle Thrift without these 'mikkle's', from the event itself, to giving clothes a new loving home, or contributing towards causes that need attention.

 teenAGE: How and when did Mukkle Thrift begin?

 Kathryn Lee: [The idea for] Mukkle Thrift came about over two years ago in March 2017 as part of a long discussion about making a change in Jamaica. For a while, we were unsure of how we could see that change happen. This further sparked conversations about a shared interest in the thrifting scene which was so popular throughout the world, but not particularly gravitated towards by the Jamaican populace. As a group, we developed the idea to create a thrift store which would erase the negative connotations behind thrifting and second-hand clothing, while also being able to bring about change to our communities and, ultimately, Jamaica as a whole. We collectively dreamt of creating an environment that prompts sustainability through thrifting, while also being able to bring about change through charity to help uplift, grow and sustain other non-profit organisations in Jamaica.

 teenAGE: What are some misconceptions about thrifting, and how do you seek to disprove them?

 Ysabelle Hughes: Although thrifting has become a huge part of fashion culture across the globe, the age-old misconceptions still exist. This is especially true for a country like Jamaica, where the thrifting scene is still in its early phases of development. The biggest misconception we are trying to disprove is the idea that the clothes found in thrift shops are worn out. Our main guideline for the donation process is for the clothing to be lightly-used and still in good condition. The clothes then go through a careful sorting process in which we check every single item ourselves as a means of quality control. It's also not unusual to come across several brand new pieces of clothing with the tags still in place, pieces which have never been worn, or those which have only been worn once or twice. This speaks directly to another common misconception, the idea that all the clothes in thrift stores are old, out of style, or outdated. Our inventory consists not only of timeless everyday casual or work wear, but also pieces from the latest trends in fashion. It's also interesting to see the way in which past trends come full circle, and what better place to take advantage of this than a thrift shop! Persons sometimes doubt the [authenticity of the] brands we have in stock, but our past pop-up inventories are a testament to the variety and quality of clothing to be discovered. From Zara to Forever 21, all the way to Ralph Lauren and Versace, we have really seen it all. To put it simply, we really aim to create a comfortable, clean, and organised space for shoppers, one which encourages persons to see the potential in a pre-loved piece of clothing, and disprove any misconceptions about the thrifting scene altogether. 

teenAGE: How can TEENS and young adults help or get involved?

Kathryn Lee: Now this is a question that we love to hear! While patrons can simply help by coming out and shopping at our pop-up shops, there are so many others means for those interested in getting involved. Donating is a great way for the public to help - [you may donate] preloved clothing, shoes and/or accessories. Our pop-ups rely on these donations, and donations from the public greatly influence the range of styles, sizes, and [how many pieces we are able to] stock. For our upcoming pop-up shop in July, we're currently accepting donations all throughout the month of June at My Jamaica in Liguanea PlazaAdditionally, the public can help by volunteering at our pop-up shop by way of helping with set up, and getting the word out on social media etc. Every mikkle mek a mukkle, so we are immensely grateful for any support that we receive!

teenAGE: Do you find raising funds for charity to be more beneficial and/or fulfilling than simply collecting clothes and passing them on to charitable organisations?

Sarah Miles: Mukkle Thrift raises funds for charity, alongside donating clothes to charitable organisations. In our opinion, both means are beneficial and equally as fulfilling. Through our donations, both monetary and material, our goal remains the same: providing the essential resources for daily life for those who lack them. With the funds that we raise, the team has the ability to expand its impact and prioritise causes that are the most urgent and necessary. While clothing can seem material, it is a necessity that many take for granted, in comparison to fashion which is a privilege. Across our island, many Jamaicans lack the clothing necessary for daily life, whether in for school, work or other occasions. Donating clothes helps provide necessary clothing for daily life, and donating funds helps us expand our reach and impact into environmental and educational causes, among others. 

teenAGE: Which charities are assisted by Mukkle Thrift?

Ysabelle Hughes: So far, our monetary donations have been toward charities and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) focusing on the welfare and education of Jamaican children. This includes the International Proxy Parents (IPP) and the One Jamaica Foundation, Kingston-based and Portland-based organisations respectively, with outreach programmes across the island. We are firm believers in the power of investing in our country's most valuable resource, our people, with the education of our country's children as an essential starting point. Further to this, our unsold clothing has previously been donated to the Salvation Army and the Jamaica Red Cross, and we hope to support more small-scale boys' and girls' homes in the future. We also plan to partner with more environmentally-focused organisations to further encourage sustainable practices across Jamaica. Our team has been so grateful for the opportunities to partner with the aforementioned organisations, and we hope to embody the philanthropic ideals that they each represent. 

teenAGE: Mukkle Thrift is run by a group of young adult women, has the team's interest in charity work, or thrifting or ability to execute a stellar event surprised patrons?

Sarah Miles: As young women, we felt doubted and belittled in our ability to succeed with Mukkle Thrift. Many peers were skeptical, doubting that we would be able to execute our vision, but two years later we have surpassed, even our own, expectations. The overwhelming support from our patronage continuously amazes us. From our first pop-up shop, our customers have been supportive and trusting in the Mukkle Thrift team. Over the years, we have built a family and community! Many of our customers are young adults and TEENS, which truly shows how in-demand thrifting and sustainable practices are becoming in Jamaica. I think that it is reassuring to our patrons that their purchases and dollars are going towards charitable causes, and that they are able to make a difference with their 'mikkle's'.

teenAGE: When is the next thrifting experience? (Where, for how long, should we get there early....?)

Leah Brown: Our next pop-up will be on July 6th at Campion College! We recommend getting there prior to 12:00 noon, because our customers come out in their numbers. While you won't be able to purchase anything until we open at 12:00, you will want to be there on time because the stock, literally, flies off the racksEveryone is ready to hunt for the best deals. While the sale typically lasts until 4:00 pm, a lot of our stock usually sells off during the first two hours of our pop-up.We hope to see you there!


--Charlene BUCHANAN

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