Thu | Aug 6, 2020

‘Every mikkle mek a mukkle’ - Thrift non-profit promoting sustainable fashion and giving back to the community

Published:Saturday | July 25, 2020 | 12:11 AMJamila Litchmore/Special Projects and Engagement Editor
Mukkle Thrift’s group of volunteers at their fourth pop-up shop hosted at Campion College, July 6, 2019.
Mukkle Thrift’s group of volunteers at their fourth pop-up shop hosted at Campion College, July 6, 2019.

A local thrift initiative is raising money and collecting donations for charities across the island, all while giving new life to second-hand clothing.

Guided by the age-old Jamaica adage ‘every mikkle mek a mukkle’, non-profit Mukkle Thrift collects lightly used clothing at drop-off points for resale at $1,500 or less. They also sell Mukkle Thrift-branded totes, with those proceeds going to charity.

Co-founded by close friends Leah Brown, Ysabelle Hughes, Sarah Miles, and Kathryn Lee, the organisation had its first pop-up on December 23, 2017, in the courtyard of Campion College.

“As close friends, we have always shared a common passion towards giving back to our community and valued the importance of sustainable and conscious living,” Lee told The Gleaner.

With the principles of ethical and sustainable fashion at its core, it became a way for the group to share their experiences thrifting overseas with the local fashion community.

“[We] were talking about our experiences thrifting abroad — how much we enjoyed it and its environmental benefits. We weren’t familiar with many local thrift shops at the time and wanted to create a space where one could give back to Jamaica while promoting a sustainable shopping experience and challenging negative stereotypes surrounding thrifting,” said Brown.

Since its establishment, Mukkle Thrift has created a community of thrifters and volunteers, all of whom contribute to the initiative by donating, shopping, and volunteering.

OVERWHELMING SUPPORT

“We are so grateful for the overwhelming support we continue to receive, and we remain committed to building a community of like-minded and socially conscious individuals,” said Hughes.

The effort has grown since the first pop-up held in 2017, both in patrons and proceeds, so much so that they are hoping to graduate from semi-annual pop-ups to more regular events.

“While we normally host our events semi-annually, we hope to expand beyond this basis and host more frequent, intimate pop-ups to cater to our patrons year-round,” said Lee.

But that, they admit, is for the future. Now, Mukkle Thrift, like many other organisations, is moving with the times and adjusting its activities according to coronavirus (COVID-19) protocols.

“Times are changing, and so is Mukkle Thrift!” said Miles.

Unable to host a physical event, they hosted their most recent pop-up, a virtual fundraising and shopping event, online on the @mukklethrift Instagram page and have more such online pop-ups coming up.

“We love our Mukkle Thrift family, and their safety and health is our number one priority during this time of uncertainty. While we’re currently unable to host our highly anticipated summer pop-up shop, we’re enthusiastic that we are able to host them virtually and keep up the thrifting momentum,” said Brown.

Working the logistics down to a tee, the group has provided clear guidelines for their valued thrifters.

“Every other Wednesday, we will post 30 ‘thrifted’ finds on our page, all of which will be [JM$1,500] or less, as per usual. Items will come at first DM (direct message), first serve, and patrons will be able to pick up their items every other Saturday at My Jamaica,” said Miles.

INCREASE IN DONATIONS

COVID-19 may have changed their operations, but it has also brought with it an increase in donations, no doubt a by-product of quarantine.

“Luckily, the recent quarantine period has brought about a lot of spring cleaning, and we’ve received some donations from these closet clear-outs,” said Miles.

Giving new life to gently worn clothing is just the tip of the iceberg for Mukkle Thrift. Another integral part of the initiative is its changing of attitudes towards second-hand clothing and the promotion of sustainable fashion. The group noted that they have seen a growth in the local thrifting community in the past three years since their very first pop-up.

“While it can be hard combating [the] stigma attached to purchasing second-hand clothing, people have generally been receptive and see the environmental value and amazing deals in thrifting,” said Miles.

The benefits are undeniable. “Thrifting is an amazing way of extending the lifespan of clothing by preventing them from ending up in our local landfills,” she added.

Miles also notes the growth of thrift outfits locally, including New Wave’s Celebrity Closet, Back on the Rack, and Thrift Nature Ja.

Having made donations in the past to Christmas in Riverton, International Proxy Parents, and the One Jamaica Foundation, Mukkle Thrift remains dedicated to its causes.

“This year, the Mukkle Team will be continuing our partnership with the International Proxy Parents, a non-profit organisation devoted to the welfare and education of children across the island. Through their administration, we are providing scholarships for the upcoming school year, as well as financial support to children’s homes being affected by the ongoing crisis,” said Hughes.

The group’s focus on children homes will help to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 and is what Mukkle Thrift sees as their “social responsibility” during “unprecedented times”.

“The COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdowns have resulted in immense pressures being placed on these homes and their ability to provide for their children and staff. We hope to use our monetary donations to alleviate these pressures to the best of our ability as the homes and their supporting organisations get back on their feet,” said Hughes.

Cleaning out your closet this summer? Consider making a donation to Mukkle Thrift.

“We kindly ask persons to donate their pre-loved, lightly worn clothing, shoes, and/or accessories, placed in a reusable bag. The donations we receive directly determine the range of styles, sizes, and amount of items we may have in stock at any given time. As such, any donation made, no matter the amount of items, is always greatly appreciated,” Hughes stated.

To donate or learn more about Mukkle Thrift, visit @mukklethrift on Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook or email mukklethrift@gmail.com. Have a good story you’d like to share? Email us at goodheart@gleanerjm.com.

jamila.litchmore@gleanerjm.com

Drop off your donations at the following locations:

- My Jamaica Store, Liguanea Avenue, Liguanea Plaza, Kingston 6, during temporary operating hours of Monday to Saturday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.

- X-Cel Optics Limited, 7 Paisley Avenue, Kingston 5, from Tuesday to Thursday until the end of August.