In recent years, “thrifting” has undergone a metamorphosis in public consciousness. Once considered subversive, it’s now a standard activity, aligning with increased cultural emphases on individualism and sustainability. For some, meticulously combing through racks or shelves to discover a one-of-a-kind piece is a thrill. For others, the hunt is overwhelming, especially if they’re unsure of what to search for. Thrift accounts, a relatively new development on social media, streamline the process of shopping second-hand.
With the immense popularity of Instagram and TikTok, new thrift accounts are cropping up every day. Typically, admins thrift items to build up an inventory, posting photos and a brief description of each good. If a follower is interested in purchasing something, they comment on a post or directly message the seller. Mobile payment services, such as Venmo, make arranging a transaction simple. Nowadays, an eye for style is monetizable, opening up doors for creatives and curators everywhere. Cincinnati is no exception.
Thrifted Threads by Kate, operated by Kate Stiens, is essentially a convergence of thrifting and upcycling. A rising senior at Walnut Hills High School, Stiens is a longtime participant in the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden’s ZooTeen program. While volunteering, she developed not only a passion for environmentalism, but also a profound distaste for fast fashion. After receiving a sewing machine as a Christmas gift in 2020, Stiens taught herself the basics of garment construction by watching YouTube videos. In March 2021, she launched Thrifted Threads by Kate, which initially sold tank tops made from repurposed textiles.
“I like to thrift and source all my materials secondhand, whether I go to Goodwill or buy vintage pieces off eBay,” Steins explained. “I go to stores like Indigo Hippo, which is downtown. They have secondhand thread.”
As of late, Stiens has taken to thrifting tapestries and transforming them into sweatshirts. An eccentric hodgepodge of prints and colors, they are assembled with precise skill, overflowing with originality. They are also unisex and purposefully oversized, catering to a variety of body types. The first “tapestry sweatshirt” Stiens created, assembled from a Grateful Dead woven throw blanket, was a present for her father.
“I decided to make him a sweatshirt for Christmas,” Stiens said. “I actually filmed a TikTok of me making it, and that’s my most viral video. A lot of my followers are Grateful Dead fans, and I think all of the graphics on those blankets are super cool.”
On June 20, Stiens dropped three Grateful Dead-inspired sweatshirts. Over 2,000 Instagram followers and 7,000 TikTok followers were eagerly waiting.
Another local account owner is Haley Vogelgesang, who runs Morning Storm Vintage. In addition to being an entrepreneur, she is also a full-time barista. Vogelgesang spends her free time curating, seeking out pieces with 1960s and 1970s flavor. Furthermore, she draws inspiration from hygge, a Danish style of interior design that emphasizes coziness and contentment. Vogelgesang wants her platform to have the same air of comfortability.
“I actually know almost all of my followers, which is a goal I’m working hard to achieve because I think social media can get inauthentic very quickly,” Vogelgesang said. “Having 500 people who support my business is honestly such a blessing.”
Morning Storm Vintage began in January 2020, stemming from Vogelgesang’s affinity for thrifting home decor. She experimented with Facebook Marketplace before starting up an Instagram account, which showcases goods that are maximalist yet tasteful. Richly colored glassware, wicker furniture, and dried flower trinket boxes have all been sold in the past. Morning Storm currently occupies a booth at Riverside Antique Mall, and Vogelgesang also offers local pickup and delivery. She frequents thrift shops across the city, always looking for objects with character and charisma.
“There is a need for consumers at the thrift store,” Vogelgesang said.“They throw away so much stuff that we don’t see, so much good stuff, because they just don’t have room for it.”