‘It kind of just hit us all at once’: student business takes off

From left to right: Katrina Amos, Shannon Blackmore and Kian Drew started the company ReFind Clothing. (Lauren Hoyt/AQ)

Shannon Blackmore and Katrina Amos said their used clothing business began as a joke.

A simple laugh in the parking lot of Value Village turned into ReFind Clothing. Along with Blackmore’s boyfriend, Kian Drew, the team is making sales all over Fredericton, and they’re barely two weeks old.

“It kind of just hit us all at once,” said Blackmore.

Blackmore and Amos, fourth-year St. Thomas University students, and Drew, a second-year University of New Brunswick student, got the idea after frequenting thrift stores in the Fredericton area.

When studying in the SUB one night, they decided to turn their joke into a reality. Blackmore started their Instagram page, ReFindClothing, “on a whim” and now they’re selling style savvy vintage clothing — everything from graphic tees and quarter zip sweaters to mom and dad jeans.

Only three days after starting the page the team had five interested customers and made a $75 profit. They’re focusing on reinvesting the money back into the business for before pocketing anything for themselves.

Wallet-friendly selling

After visiting thrift stores four to five times a week, the team knew what to expect from their prices — and they weren’t happy. They decided to start ReFind to offer the same type of clothing at lower prices.

“We wanted to do something that was affordable to students because when we would look at prices we would be like, ‘Oh, that’s so nice, but crazy expensive and we don’t have the money to spend on that,” said Blackmore.

Aside from lower prices, the students wanted a local used clothing business without the environment of a large thrift store.

“We really don’t like the way that [commercial thrift stores] dispose of their clothes by kind of shipping it off into developing countries and how it affects their economies,” said Amos.

ReFind has proven to be popular, but the team is already planning for any un-sold items.

“If we can’t sell an item after a few months we’re going to be donating it to a local shelter, to Liberty Lane actually,’ said Amos.

Being their own bosses

Blackmore and Drew, who both work part-time on top of school, said life gets busy but running ReFind through social media makes things easier.

“I work at a bank and I’m a full-time student and with [ReFind] it’s not too bad, it’s mostly social media and that. So, everybody’s on social media anyway so you might as well dedicate your time to something else,” said Drew.

Blackmore said the hardest part of the business is coordinating a time to meet up with buyers, but having three people on the team keeps it under control. Running the business through Instagram gives the team a chance to connect with others and take a break from school.

“It’s kind of like a study break almost, it’s nice to have an excuse to go on Instagram and post things. It’s kind of fun, honestly,” said Amos.

Blackmore said running the business isn’t stressful because they’re doing it on their own while helping others.

“It’s like we’re our own bosses,” said Drew.

Selling across Canada

Though the business is still in its beginning stages, the team is already making plans for ReFind’s future. The team will part ways after this school year. Blackmore and Drew are moving to Ontario while Amos is headed to Nova Scotia.

Blackmore said she hopes to offer the business in their new cities.

“You’re still going to be in those populations of people where you’re going to be wanting [to give] that service to them,” said Blackmore.

The team is discussing options for shipping after they move so they can grow the business.

As for the name, Blackmore and Amos came up with “ReFind” when Amos cracked a joke about sweaters they found in Value Village.

“We were basically just like, ‘Oh, re-find, that would be a great name for our clothing company,’” said Amos, “But then it became a thing.”