Singapore is known as a shoppers paradise with shopping malls and retail stores.
In recent times, thrift shopping has become particularly popular with the advent of sustainable fashion.
The latest addition to Singapore’s growing thrift list is Threadlightly, a quaint store in the Queensway Shopping Center.
It was officially opened in August 2020 by 22-year-old Rin Azhar, who decided to forego university in order to do the business full time.
From side project to full-time business
Photo credit: time out
Rin told Vulcan Post in an interview that she and two other friends started at Threadlightly when she was 18.
At the time, she had a keen interest in thrift and a passion for community support.
“I wanted to do something with fashion and help the community, so Threadlightly was founded,” said Ngee Ann Polytechnic graduate.
At the time, she was selling clothes donated by friends at pop-up stands, and all proceeds went to the local nonprofit, AWARE.
After graduating with a degree in mass communication, she was faced with the choice of graduating from university or turning her side project into a more permanent one.
She chose the latter because she felt it was something she was sure of.
Rin quickly started all of the prep – gathering clothes, doing market research, and finding a shop space.
To finance the retail space, set-up and renovation costs, Rin put in her own savings along with some start-up capital from her father.
In August 2020, her efforts came to fruition when she opened the Threadlightly store.
Rin explained that thrift stores are all about sustainability, which is the inspiration for the three product lines available there.
First, the Rehome line is made up of clothing that has been donated by the public and makes up around 70 percent of the items available in the store. Items cost only S $ 4, nothing over S $ 15.
Next up, the Reclaim line features vintage pieces curated by Rin from wholesalers or overseas. Since these are usually unique pieces, prices usually start at S $ 30.
Before Covid-19 hit, Rin shared that she had been traveling “quite a bit” so she could find various vintage items or designs to add to the store’s collection.
However, those plans were thwarted due to the travel bans, and the Reclaim collection now makes up around 10 percent of the items available in the store.
After all, the Rework collection consists of upcycling garments such as dyed garments and hand-sewn bags.
Running a business as a one-woman show
Image Credit: Threadlightly
Rin is not only the founder of her own brand, but the only employee in the business.
She works seven days a week, bringing in new goods every day, and managing the store’s marketing and social media campaigns.
Threadlightly is extremely active on both Instagram and TikTok, where Rin conducts most of the brand’s marketing efforts. Since its inception, it has had over 5,000 followers on Instagram and 3,200 followers.
As Threadlight continues to gain followers and traction, Rin said it remains a challenge educating customers about the benefits of thrift.
Some people still have the misconception that frugal clothing is “unsanitary” while others fail to understand the difference between vintage and frugality.
With this in mind, Rin states that second hand goods are sold at a lower price and it is the responsibility of second hand dealers to ensure that their products are affordable for customers.
Keep the store to a community centered space
Image Credit: Threadlightly
For Rin, the foundation of owning a thrift store is being able to give back to the community, and her ultimate goal is to keep Threadlightly a “community-centric space”.
Since starting Threadlightly, she has supported various charities and nonprofits by giving them a portion of the business’s income.
For example, last August, Rin donated a portion of her income to It’s Raining Raincoats, an initiative to help migrant workers.
Subsequently, Threadlightly teamed up with Project Hills, a grassroots initiative that aims to provide assistance to residents of rental housing estates.
This month, its beneficiary is Twilight Love, an organization that distributes food to needy elderly people who have been adopted in various residential areas.
The basic idea of a thrift store is to give something back to the community. So I don’t think I can have a thrift store without helping these organizations or beneficiaries.
We want to continue to pass on part of the proceeds to the beneficiaries every month.
– Rin Azhar, founder of Threadlightly
Rin also supports other local brands and companies by displaying their products in their store.
The “Local Corner” presents products from local small businesses such as sustainable vegan lip gloss from Peach Glam Beauty and sustainable jewelry from Bologna Jam.
In addition to scaling the business, Rin also hopes Threadlightly can play a more active role in serving the community.
Selected image source: Threadlightly