Get to Know: Closet Raid
Ahhhh Aritzia. As much as I shake my head at the fact that I worked there - twice - I did get to work with some pretty amazing women. One of those women was Tif, who has gone on to co-create Closet Raid with another awesome woman, Beth. I look forward to this event everytime it comes around, because it is seriously an event. Hosted in a local bar or restaurant, you get the chance to shop some gorgeous, barely worn clothing at reasonable prices while drinking delicious cocktails and supporting a good cause. What's not to love? Closet Raid has an event in Edmonton this weekend, but on October 23rd they'll be back here in in Calgary at Trolley 5. You can guess where I'm going to knock some things off my "Approved Purchases" list. Read on to find out more about why they started, how they are changing the world, and what keeps them going...
How did you two meet?
It was love at first sight - we were both working in the trenches at Aritzia and instantly connected.
You both have some pretty extensive retail experience. What about the industry would you change?
We would change the obsession the industry has on fast fashion. When consumers are continually buying “trendy”, low quality products that they barely wear, this creates clothing waste. It also makes ethical clothing too expensive to compete with in the market place.
Why did you start Closet Raid? How did the idea come about?
Our closets were full of unloved clothing (everything that wasn’t a neutral!). We felt like there wasn’t a good option for us or our friends to consign our clothing so we hosted our first event in Tif’s apartment in July 2015. The event was a big success, we had major demand to host another even, so we just kept doing them. We have since ran 2 additional events in Calgary and have a Fall/Winter line up of 6 more, with the addition of a Calgary Men’s Event.
What is the philosophy behind Closet Raid?
Closet Raid was born out of our dissatisfaction with the clothing industry. After years of working in retail, we both met amazing people and learned a lot, but didn’t love how it all works. You get people to buy things they don’t need and then it sits in their closets until their unloved clothing gets thrown away. Closet Raid is our solution to dealing with this clothing waste.
What sets Closet Raid apart from the other consignment options available?
This is truly a community event- we wouldn’t be able to do it without all of our friends, venues and charities coming together. We have fun and support great causes!
What pushed you to take Closet Raid on the road to other cities?
Demand baby! We had friends from other cities who were interested in supporting our cause, so they reached out and here we are!
Shoppers can bring clothing to donate at your events – what initiatives do you support, and why did you decide to do this?
We support local organizations in each city that help various programs by donating clothing and funds to those in need. We make sure that the clothing we donate always gets recycled and goes to good use. We are very selective of the charities we support - they need to fully represent our vision. Our Calgary Charity, for example, that we support is Making Changes - they help get women back into the work force ,who have come out of tough life situations, by providing them with professional outfits.
What other ways can people get involved with Closet Raid?
Shop, host, give donations, sell your clothing, be a vendor or just reach out. We want to connect with people that are passionate about our causes and want to support!
What inspires you?
Providing a practical solution for a real problem. And the people we meet along the way that support us and want to make a difference in their community.
How do you define success?
Doing what we’re passionate about and having a good time. What else is there?
What are your goals, both personally and professionally?
We’re planning to host 10 events for Spring/Summer 2017 and continue to grow into new cities for Fall 2017 - we want to raise awareness of the issues that involve the fashion industry and have a blast while we do it! As for personal, Beth is trying to get a boyfriend by Spring/Summer 2017. Application’s are currently being accepted.
What advice do you have for those starting their own endeavours?
Surround yourself with people that support and inspire you, always value your time, be smart and hustle hard!
Biggest reward being an entrepreneur? Biggest struggle?
Biggest reward is seeing our friends be genuinely excited about what we are doing and making others believe they can “Just Do It” to make a difference in their community.
Biggest struggle for us is time management - we always want to do everything and go everywhere, but physically can’t. We’re constantly reprioritizing and put each other in check with what is realistic to achieve with our time.
What’s the biggest risk you’ve ever taken?
Everything in life can be viewed as a risk but we don’t really see things like that. We do crazy shit all the time but never feel like it’s a real risk because we have a plan in place and aren’t afraid to be honest with ourselves - if it isn’t smart, realistic or just isn’t meant to be, then we call it. Everything is a learning experience!
How do you navigate having both a friendship & business partnership?
Communication - honest, open, and no text fights. We try to have clear separation in our relationship. When we’re hanging out as friends, we try not to talk about business and when we have business meetings, we get shit done.
What does balance look like to you? How do you find it?
We just don’t haha. It’s about having time for the people you love, the things you’re passionate about and yourself - constant prioritization and re-evaluating your time is key. We always struggle to have a balanced life, but also have great partnership where we genuinely care for each other and make sure we are both in a good zone.
What do you feel is the most important thing in life?
Life is heavy - keep it simple and have fun! But Tif says a solid REM cycle and Beth is still figuring it out.
How are you trying to make a difference in our world?
Closet Raid. Reduce clothing waste, support your community and have a blast - Get it!
*all images by Nicole Irene