Growing up, there was never any disposable income in our house so my wardrobe consisted ENTIRELY of hand me downs from my Mum’s friends who had daughters that were older than me…
Now the problem there was that EVERYTHING I owned was chosen by someone else.. to suit their style and bodyshape!! NOT MINE!
And to top it all off… often I was second or third in line for the ‘hand down’ so the items were well worn AND totally out of fashion 😳
As my teens started approaching you can imagine how painful this was and I started getting creative with ways to turn my crusty old wardrobe into something that reflected ME & my personality!
I begged my Mum to buy me a sewing machine and I started altering the ‘hand me downs’ that were given to me so they’d fit better or turn a dress into a top etc.. and as soon as I was old enough I got myself a job so I could start buying my own clothes.
I can remember the first dress I ever bought… brand new! With my own money! Boy did I love that dress! But at 14 years old and this being way back in 1990.. the money I was earning cleaning dishes 3 nights a week didn’t go far shopping in department stores… I was lucky to purchase 1 new thing a week.
This is when I discovered Op Shops!! Whoa.. now wasn’t that a revelation in itself! From that very first day about 25 years ago I’ve been obsessed. You can’t keep me away from them!
There was always something so satisfying about finding an entire outfit for less than 10 bucks, yet still looking like my friends at school, and no one ever suspected that I was wearing second hand clothing.
In fact I started getting so good at it… that I found myself getting compliments on the pieces I choose for myself every time I left the house! And without fail.. I can’t help but respond to their compliments with “I got this for 50c at an Op Shop!”
These days, whenever I leave the house… I’ve noticed I could be wearing the most up to date $250 pair of jeans teamed with an ‘on trend’ top from a well known label ,,, then I throw on a vintage jacket I scored for $15.00 at the Op Shop…. THE JACKET will be the thing that everyone notices!
ALL of my favourite things in my wardrobe… and the things I get the most compliments on are from second hand stores or flea markets or garage sales.
I started noticing that people were saying the same things to me over and over again… and this has been going on for years and years!
"Oh, that'd be right. I never find anything good when I go",
"You must have a good eye for the gems, because all I ever find is junk".
I kept shopping and people kept commenting.
THEN the volunteers at the counter started commenting…
“OMG, where did you find this? I work here and I never seem to find anything good.”
“Oh dear, look at all the wonderful things you’ve found! I love everything in this pile you are buying but haven’t seen any of them on the rack before now”
A LIGHT BULB WENT OFF…
Hey, maybe I am really really good at finding the treasures amongst the junk… and I’m always so gutted to leave treasures behind that are not my size or colour or shape…
I always pick them up and feel disappointed putting them on the rack thinking “OMG, someone would absolutely LOVE this.. and it’s an absolute bargain!”
I remember one day I found a MIMCO bag.. it was real leather and hadn’t been looked after very well. It was $80 which was wayyyy more than I could afford but I just couldn’t leave it there.
I took it home and restored the leather and oiled the zips. It looked amazing. I wore it around for a few days but the guilt finally got to me and I desperately needed money to pay rent.
I listed it as an auction on Ebay with the reserve set to $80 so I could at least get my money back… 7 days later it sold for a whopping $280!
ANOTHER LIGHTBULB MOMENT!
This has been my hobby on and off for years to supplement my income..
I have been watching fashion trends for more than half my life and I worked in ladies clothing for 12 years so I just know when I’m in an Op Shop whether something is of current value. I know my brands, I know my fabrics, I know my cuts and I know what women like!
So fast forward to some point late in 2019, without ever making a conscious decision to do so… I became completely obsessed with buying wonderful clothes.. I didn’t care if they fit me or not! I surrounded myself with beautiful prints, textured fabrics, vintage & retro prints, suede & tassels mixed with modern day essentials like denim and everyday basics.. oh, and a whole pile of killer active wear…
Within a couple of months I had filled my entire garage! I started putting ads on Facebook Marketplace and listing the high end stuff on Ebay.. I was making lots of sales and women were coming back again and again to my little store in my garage because they loved the style of clothes I was choosing.
SO - In February 2020, when things started getting a bit cramped in my garage I decided that I was finally going to take a massive leap of faith and open Bowerbird Fashion!
Now, if we were standing together two years ago and you told me that I would be here today opening a business flipping second hand clothes I would've scrunched up my face and told you how silly that sounded. I mean, who is going to come and buy second hand clothing from me when they can just go and get it from the OpShop themselves?
Number 1 reason is that they do go OpShopping themselves but never seem to find any treasures.. Well.. just go back to the comments further up in this article that people give me ALL THE TIME!
Number 2 reason is that everyone is so busy these days.. a day out with the girlfriends digging through racks at the OpShop is a rare luxury.
Number 3 reason is.. I go shopping for a very niche style of clothing for my customers (read more about what I shop for here…), so if you love my style then you need to know that I search high and low.. OpShops/Facebook Marketplace/Gumtree/Garage Sales and now, with our SELL YOUR CLOTHES service… ladies from all around Australia are cleaning out their wardrobes and sending their unwanted clothing direct to our warehouse..
You won’t find a better selection of pre loved clothing to sort through in one place, with friendly staff, clean fitting rooms, lots of parking and more payment options than you can poke a stick at! Lol
So please, come and say hello one day, have a look around and let us know if we’re doing a great job :)