Walking into a second-hand clothing store, many people see piles of clothes no one wants, but to Haley Friesen of Chosen Clothing, thrifting is a form of expression and an opportunity to celebrate uniqueness.
Friesen’s love for clothes and thrifting inspired her to start her own second-hand clothing store, Chosen Clothing. She hosted her first pop-up shop in Lincoln Oct. 3 and 4.
Chosen Clothing doesn’t have a physical storefront. On the first day, Friesen hosted the pop-up at her aunt’s house in the Edenton South neighborhood. People often walk in the neighborhood and Friesen said she thought it would be a good way to build awareness for the shop.
On the second day, the pop-up was located outside her own apartment in the Union College area near Prescott Avenue.
“In college, I loved shopping but I couldn’t afford to buy clothes at full price,” Friesen said. “That’s when I fell in love with thrifting.”
Not only were the clothes more affordable, they also had history. Friesen said she likes imagining the type of person that has worn the clothes she picks. When she started buying clothes for her shop she chose them with different people in mind.
“Shopping at places like Goodwill can be overwhelming for some people,” she said. “They have so many clothes and not everyone wants to spend a lot of time finding what they want.”
Chosen Clothing offers a much smaller selection. Friesen said the pop-up was designed to make second-hand shopping easier. She organized the items into coats, sweaters, dresses, denim, shoes and purses.
She said that she tries to buy clothes when Goodwill has a sale. Then she raises the prices when she sells them but can still keep the prices affordable.
When shopping for clothes for Chosen Clothing, she said she tried to pick clothes that she liked as well as clothes she personally wouldn’t wear. That way, there would be a variety of items for customers to choose from.
“I believe that God created each person uniquely,” she said. “He designed each of us, and that inspired me to see women as art and to celebrate women through clothes.”
She wanted the name of her store to reflect that. Chosen Clothing has a very special meaning to her.
“I was praying that I could come up with a name that had purpose behind it,” Friesen said. “In church, we were singing a song about being chosen by God and that’s where my idea came from.”
One of the most exciting parts of the pop-up, she said, was seeing people feel special in the clothes she picked out and styling them in their own way.
“Even though the clothes are second-hand, I don’t want them to feel old,” Friesen said. “I want them to look fresh and high quality.”
To help future customers visualize the clothes in this way, one of the first things she did was start an Instagram account. She asked her friends to model and picked pieces she thought they would actually enjoy wearing in real life.
Marketing was a concern for her at the beginning and felt way out of her comfort zone. Instagram was an easy platform to begin spreading the word about the Chosen Clothing pop-up.
Friesen was pleasantly surprised by the response she got on Instagram from friends and other local businesses in Lincoln.
Although she gained a following on Instagram, she said she will never sell online. The in-person shopping experience is important to her and she said she doesn’t want to sacrifice that.
She said she sees going shopping as a lost art and that online shopping takes away from the experience of shopping.
“I love the idea of being with your mom or your friends and trying stuff on together,” she said. “Then, when you wear those clothes they remind you of your time with them.”
She uses the account as a digital portfolio.
“It was really encouraging to see my friends sharing my posts and letting people know about my pop-up,” she said.
At the same time, she feared that people would make fun of her or think what she was doing was dumb.
“It brought out a lot of insecurities for me,” she said. “What if no one comes? I was passionate about what I was doing, and that made me feel vulnerable.”
The first morning of the pop-up her fears were quickly eliminated. Because her clothes are second-hand, there was only one of each item. Once something was sold, no one else could get it.
Friesen said she believes that is why there was a line of people waiting before the shop even opened.
Through Instagram, she tried to create suspense and a sense of urgency. She posted some of her favorite items with hopes that people would come to the pop-up early to ensure they got what they wanted.
“I didn’t let anyone reserve clothes beforehand, so if they really wanted something they had to get there early,” she said.
The shop saw enough success that she plans on continuing and doing another pop-up in the winter. She has already reinvested the money she made and is using it to buy new pieces.
“Seeing the pop-up come together and be successful has given me a lot more confidence,” Friesen said. “I’ve already started shopping for my next pop-up.”