Kiandra MacMullin was working her way towards medical school when an old sewing machine turned her down another path — at least for now.
In the upstairs of the Isaac’s Way building in downtown Fredericton is Kiandra’s Closet. The business focuses on 100 per cent reworked items. She thrifts clothes, buys fabric and turns it into something new.
“I really enjoy funky pieces like Gucci fabric and turning it into pants and repurposing old materials,” said MacMullin.
The store opened in December and sold out by Christmas. New clothing dropped on Feb. 18, which included plus-sizes and men’s wear.
She has a website and ships internationally, with orders coming in from as far as Singapore.
MacMullin loves the idea of making and selling unique clothing that people can say is one-of-a-kind.
“My mom would be like, ‘let’s go shopping,’ and I’d say, ‘for what? the same stuff everyone wears?’”
MacMullin said she will never keep the same clothing past its popularity — she likes changing with the seasons and keeping up with trends.
Besides revamped clothing, Kiandra’s Closet sells handbags, shoes, jewelry and more to come in the future.
Prices vary depending on the cost of materials and how long they take to make. Prices also and including a 50 to 70 per cent profit margin.
“I’m learning more every day about what my market is like and the set costs,” she said.
How it started
On top of being a business owner, MacMullin is a student at St. Thomas University. While studying for the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT), she got tired of watching TV and movies in her free time. After being given a sewing machine, she started to practice making clothes on her own.
The name, Kiandra’s Closet, came from selling her own clothing to save up money for laser eye surgery.
MacMullin said many people messaged her asking if she had more clothes to sell — that’s when the idea clicked.
She started doing custom orders that requested logos or roman numerals. She then re-branded due to demand.
“I became very uncomfortable because obviously now that we are public and in a public space, it is impossible to do that without having any issues along the way.”
MacMullin did a lot of research on what was allowed and what was not. She found out that if she reworked a piece, it was legal to sell again.
“People think we are making knockoffs, but we are taking Nike socks or a Nike sweater we thrifted and cutting it and turning it into something else.”
As her business grew, there were too many orders for MacMullin to keep up with while trying to balance a social life and school. Since then, she’s hired two seamstresses and is hiring someone to work cash.
“I finally bit the bullet and hired people and it was the best decision I’ve ever made,” she said. “They’re both so creative in the sense where I can give them something and they are able to be like ‘yeah I know how to do this.’”
MacMullin went from working in her home for eight months delivering clothing to working in a business space she shares with another small clothing business.
Even with the responsibilities of running a business and going to school, she never considered dropping out, but she wonders about medical school.
“It’s so fun for me, never once in my life would I ever have dreamed of being a business owner. Total accident – I’m still shocked,” she said. “I want to go to medical school, but at the same time, why stop something that is fun and makes people feel good?”
MacMullin’s goal is not only to make unique clothing but to combat fast fashion. She takes old clothes from past trends and recreates something new to stop those pieces from ending up in landfills.
She was inspired by her sister, who lives in Toronto, and the shops they have there.
“We don’t have that anywhere past Quebec City,” she said.
Her plan is to expand the business to make it an Atlantic venture. If things continue to go well in Fredericton, her next step is to move a store to Moncton or Saint John.
MacMullin hopes to get to a point where she can go to medical school while the business is still going.
“I still have another year to grow it and see where it goes.”