Marlee Durand and Julie Kinsella are two best friends and co-founders on a mission to encourage sustainable fashion at CU Boulder. Durand (Phil’19) and Kinsella, a Marquette University graduate who studied international women's economic development, connected across state lines to build Thrift/ed, a virtual thrift store for college students. This past year, the team competed in CU Boulder's 11th annual cross-campus entrepreneurial competition, New Venture Challenge, and participated in CU Boulder's summer accelerator program, Catalyze CU. After taking advantage of the entrepreneurial resources campus has to offer, Durand and Kinsella reflect on their student startup journey:
Q: What does your startup do?
A: Thrift/ed is CU's virtual thrift store, like Poshmark but just for your school. We just launched our website, where you can post pics of your clothes and outdoor gear and sell to other students. Then, you just meet up on campus to exchange and make money on your way to class.
Q: What is your favorite new fashion trend?
A: I love that today there is no one correct way to dress. Walking around campus, you can see styles from across decades and cultures. People aren’t afraid to play with different genres and that’s a pretty remarkable change. Fashion is now about expressing yourself through personal style - not crowd pleasing - and that’s what Thrift/ed is all about.
Q: How did you come up with your business idea? What inspired you?
A: Is your closet overflowing and yet you feel like you never have anything to wear? Well, I feel like that ALL THE TIME. During college, I watched friends throw away bags of clothes after being denied from resale shops like Buffalo Exchange then run off to H&M for the latest thing. We are living in an age of fast fashion, where wastefulness is a side effect of personal expression, but it so doesn’t have to be. At Thrift/ed, we are creating a space where style can be shared, recycled, and celebrated.
Q: What has been your biggest challenge in running your startup?
A: The biggest challenge for me as an entrepreneur has been getting over insecurities and the fear of hard work while being my own boss. In college, I understood work to be more of something that other people told me I had to do in order to earn a good grade, be smarter, etc. Being my own boss is not that simple. When you’re in charge, it’s very easy to let yourself off the hook or to be too hard on yourself, which is just as toxic. Overcoming this has been the greatest challenge but also the most rewarding because the time and work I put in is done out of love for creating something I believe in as opposed to just following expectations.
Q: What do you love about having your own company?
A: I used to roll my eyes at the business school, thinking that everybody in it was money-driven and egotistical (narrow minded, I know). But in growing this company, I have discovered how we can actually leverage capitalism in order to create a more sustainable and equal economy. There is so much potential for our generation to shift the way our society functions and so much responsibility in that as well. Thrift/ed is my way of playing the game.
Q: What advice would you give to other students who are interested in starting their own businesses?
A: My advice is that if you want to try something then go for it. Pick the idea that pesters you the most - the one you can’t stop thinking about. Write about it. Talk about it. Play with it. Then just see what starts happening. Some things just want to be created, so create them. Screw the corporate ladder nonsense. There are no rules.
Q: What do you wish you knew then that you know now?
A: Honestly nothing. When I started Thrift/ed a year and a half ago, I never would have thought that I would end up here. I get to work everyday with my best friend, problem solving the only thing I think about, in my favorite place in the world.