The First Of Their Name Part II: Chapter Four

Desis, i.e., the South-Asian community, are famous for being thrifty. In our families and cultures, children often end up wearing well-preserved clothes of their parents, sometimes even of grandparents! While it might be weird to other cultures, if you think about it, is it not a better way to use reusable objects in a manner which pleases everyone?

Arsala and Naba are doing just that. A sudden epiphany called them to this path, and caused the birth of Thrift.desi. Here are they, taking us along on a fun ride of their unique endeavor. Cool, classy and conserving nature seems to be their motto. Prepare to get inspired!

Arsala and Naba: Sisters, best friends and founders of Thrift.desi

About Arsala and Naba: 

Assalamualaikum!

My name is Arsala Mustafa – born and raised in Karachi, Pakistan, now in Houston, TX and soon to be a Portlander! I have a Communications and Finance background, but now I’m playing the best role of my life: a stay-at-home momma to my almost three year old daughter, Heba Noor!

Naba, co-founder of thrist.desi, is my younger sister and my best friend! She’s a stay-at-home mom to her 3 year old son, Idris, and is amazing at finding and sharing good deals with others.

Inspiration behind Thrift.desi:

My sister, Naba, and I launched “Thrift.desi” literally on a whim on a random, routine afternoon. We were both huddled in our closet staring in awe at the sheer number of Pakistani clothes we had – most having been worn just once, and some never even touched. We went through feelings of embarrassment at the ‘TLC’s Hoarding: Buried Alive’ situation-at-hand, and regret of having spent pretty much a small fortune on a wardrobe that is not being used (read: motherhood and significant changes in size!). Even after huge donation piles were made, the closets remained full and overwhelming….We crossed our fingers and launched a “Shop our Closet” style page on IG in the hopes that there will be an interest in buying preloved desi-wear, and it just took off from there! 

What’s in this name?

We settled on the name ‘Thrift.desi’ because we wanted our page to incorporate all things ‘thrifty’: we didn’t want to limit our conversation to just the buying and selling of preloved fashion but wanted to also share our love and passion of buying thrifted furniture, decor, etc. We added the desi to promote our South-Asian background – which we are so incredibly proud of!

A sustainable option to owning quality pieces :

We decided to center the conversation on our IG page around sustainability and the benefits of buying and selling preloved. Going thrift shopping and scavenging secondhand shops for unique pieces of furniture and household goods is something that my parents are hugely into, so thrifting was already something that my sister and I were passionate about. Furthermore, over the course of the last few years, I had found myself becoming more of a conscious consumer: just being mindful of where I’m spending my money and adopting a more holistic, minimalist lifestyle. I had greatly decluttered my belongings and found it to be so freeing and empowering not to be bogged down with physical baggage. My sister and I agreed that this was a conversation that wasn’t being had in our community but one that is of great importance. Thus, with the goal of breaking the taboo around buying/second-hand in our culture, ‘Thrift.Desi’ was born. 

Challenges faced:

Because our page was more of a passion project, we decided to just have fun with it, instead of fixating on growing our social media presence. The biggest challenge we faced was just putting the word out there, but once we launched, with the help of our family and friends promoting our page with their networks, our page organically gained traction really fast. We had to ensure to keep the momentum going by constant engagement with our audience, but that is something both my sister and I thoroughly enjoy, so it came easily!

Success story:

Since our launch in November of 2019, we’ve had 7 successful ‘Closet Launches’ and 2 ‘Jewelry Launches’ where we sold our gorgeous, preloved clothing and jewelry at thrift store prices! Our ‘Closet Launches’ are always centered around themes like casual-wear, Ramadan kurtas, wedding-wear, etc. Our primary goal was to promote a culture of buying preloved desi fashion, so we had to ensure that our prices were attractive enough for our audience to take a shot at it. For example, when we did the kurta sale, we priced each item at just $12 to truly keep with the essence of ‘thrift’ shopping. It was so gratifying to see the people react so well to the idea of buying preloved at such a great price. The feedback we received was truly so fulfilling!

Why should second-hand shopping be encouraged?

Keeping clothes in rotation by buying second-hand has huge economical benefits: it reduces chemical pollution, greatly decreases landfill wastes, and lowers your personal carbon footprint. Plus, the buyer has the added benefit of purchasing unique items for a fraction of the cost of buying it new! Aside from the launches, our conversation is always centered around sustainability, and being mindful and conscious in our purchases: we post online various furnitures we’ve thrifted for our homes and how we’ve styled them, amazing deals we’ve come across, DIY/recycle/upcycle projects, and even how we’ve revamped and restyled an old outfit into something completely new!

Vision ahead:

Our vision ahead is to just keep sharing tips and tricks for a more sustainable lifestyle, and promoting the buying and selling of preloved clothing and accessories especially to a desi audience. We truly want to break the negative connotations around secondhand clothing and merchandise, and want to normalize and promote concepts like rewearing and revamping, conscious consumerism, and sustainable living.

Experience so far: 

It’s been such a fun ride to share this side of our lives with our audience and connect with like-minded people! We hope to continue to have engaging conversations and share more of our thrifty tips and tricks to help inspire others to find beauty and value in secondhand things! 

Advice to upcoming entrepreneurs:

Our advice to upcoming entrepreneurs is to put out there what you are most passionate about! When it’s a topic or a product you truly believe in, it’s so much more fun to promote it! My sister and I created this space as a passion project and promised one another that we’ll continue to do it while it’s fun. We truly love engaging with others and learning from their experiences, and never shied away from asking questions and advice from those we admire and follow on social media! 

Contact info:

Find us on Instagram: @thrift.desi

and Facebook: @thrift.desi

or contact us via email: thrift.desi@gmail.com

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