Cal Poly sophomores Sarah Raykhman and Emma Norland have been working on their collective thrift business since January. Sonya Jindal | Mustang News

Rummaging through a pile of colorful, avant-garde clothing articles, graphic communications sophomore Emma Norland had a sharp glint in her eye. As she pushed her blonde, wispy hair from her eyes, she let out an animated shriek upon hearing exciting news from her business partner: “The ‘Wrangler’ shirt I found sold for triple its worth!”

Norland’s backyard is home to the two girls’ business — storing duffle bags, coolers and luggage pieces full of unique finds. Sonya Jindal | Mustang News
Norland’s backyard is home to the two girls’ business — storing duffle bags, coolers and luggage pieces full of unique finds. Sonya Jindal | Mustang News

Norland, alongside civil engineering sophomore Sarah Raykhman, have meshed together their artistic minds to create their own clothing business — thrifting and ‘upcycling’ clothing pieces for the fashion forward.

“[Norland] and I take thrifted pieces from our personal closets or thrift stores and upcycle them online for people who are either too lazy or don’t like thrifting but appreciate vintage fashion,” Raykhman said.

How they got into it

Prior to establishing their business, the two women had a long history of experience with these vintage goods, each developing their love for the process through different narratives and exposure.

“I come from a family of serial thrifters,” Norland said.

Norland reminisced on growing up with thrift-savvy parents, dragging her from store to store as they scoured for their next big find.

Living with a mom who collected and sold antiques, Norland spent much of her childhood in thrift shops. The lifestyle eventually seeped its way into her everyday. She would choose these unique, cheap clothing articles over indulgent, brand-name pieces.

“Being cheap as heck and turning that cheapness into something pretty is something I’ve grown up watching,” Norland said. “I admire the crap out of it. It’s impressive.”

As for Raykhman, the notion of true individuality peaked her interest in the world of thrifting.

Growing up in Orange County, Raykhman had a hard time removing herself from what she called the Brandy Melville-clad clones surrounding her.

The two run their business out of Norland’s apartment backyard. Sonya Jindal | Mustang News
The two run their business out of Norland’s apartment backyard. Sonya Jindal | Mustang News

“I started going to house shows and concerts where there was a community people who expressed themselves through unique and eclectic fashion choices,” Raykhman said. “My friends and I loved it and [I] stopped caring about what other people thought.”

Raykhman eventually found herself thrifting almost every weekend, planning trips to Los Angeles and San Diego just for flea markets.

“Thrifting is the cheapest way to shop and also helps the environment by recycling clothing,” Raykhman said. “You can find the coolest vintage pieces.”

The process

The two women sell their items on the online app and website DePop.

According to their mission statement, DePop is an online forum “where the world’s creatives come to buy, sell and discover the most inspiring and unique things.”

Raykhman created the DePop handle @sarahlol back in high school. However, the two have shared the account and collaborated on the aesthetics since January 2018.

Landscape architecture sophomore and close friend of the women, Sarah Maloney, has a strong love for the business.

“I’d say [@sarahlol] is trendy, hip, funny and affordable for the most part,” Maloney said. “[The business] creates a really fun aesthetic and has a strong sense of style.”

While out thrifting for their own clothes, the business partners keep an eye out for trendy or vintage brand-name items. Once purchased, they take turns modeling and taking pictures of their new finds, spending time styling the item in an aesthetically pleasing manner.

The business process is lighthearted and fun for the two girls, always brandishing a gleeful smile through every step. Sonya Jindal | Mustang News

“Right now, we do our own thing and upload separate pictures with varying backgrounds,” Raykhman said. “But we’re looking to get more professional since our follower base is growing and hopefully [we will] start using a photo studio.”

After customers have gone through their loot and claimed items for themselves, the women then move on to what they consider the more difficult part of the process: mailing.

“Shipping packages are so expensive and when I go to the post office, I’m shipping, like, 20 things, so I need to allocate an hour and a half usually to get it all done,” Raykhman said. “The people that work at USPS know our faces.”

The girls strategically upload their items on DePop, taking into consideration the style, time and amount of pictures they post at a time.

“It’s very laid back and everything is up to us. We get to be creative — where we take photos and how we caption our items — but we’re still responsible for always being available to customers with questions and shipping things on time so that we maintain our good reviews,” Norland said. 

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *