Sushmit and Kenneth sorting through second-hand, donated clothes.
8 February 2021
A Second Wear is an online thrift store run by a group of five passionate NUS students interested in popularising thrifting culture in Singapore. An NUS student initiative, it helps close the loop for textiles and fabrics and provide a sustainable alternative to fast fashion.
However, like any start-up journey, the team has had a roller coaster ride, with more dips than highs. While A Second Wear has seen their fair share of successes, with their pilot held in UTown during 2020/2021 Semester 1 and Semester 2 racking up more than 200 kg and 100kg of clothes in donations respectively, the journey is far from smooth.
Bags of clothes from a collection drive.
The COVID-19 pandemic has shore up difficulties for the team. Said Sushmit, the student Programme Director (PD) of A Second Wear: "We faced many difficulties, with the main one being the issue of zoning in NUS. Given safe management measures, we were not able to organise a physical thrift shop where people could come down and physically see the clothes they wanted to purchase. Operating fully through an e-commerce platform competing with already established thrift shops was another challenge as well. Lastly, we could not organise huge collection drives, so having small de-centralised drives was yet another challenge we faced. It was harder to attract more donations through such drives."
Apart from that, the biggest shortcoming the team has faced thus far is the lack of sales. Sushmit confessed: "We have not been able to promote ourselves to as many customers as we would like to, and perhaps some of our clothes are a bit pricey for a thrift shop. We have not been able to collect a large sum of revenue to donate to our beneficiaries."
Despite dismal sales of $70 for the 300kg of clothes collected, the team has kept its morale up. In the next cycle, A Second Wear has re-strategise to come back stronger, by ramping up on marketing efforts, as well as altering prices to be more competitive. The team is also looking to get more outreach in upcoming iterations of the project by reaching out to more halls and residences to hold collections and sales. Open collection to all students of NUS, and not just campus residents is another of their considerations.
As to what contributed to their resilience in the midst of all their challenges, Sushmit expressed: "Our team is generally really motivated. We all want to work towards reducing textile wastage in our country, and garner revenue for our beneficiaries. Everyone knows that it’s not easy to run a charitable organisation dealing with such a large amount of clothes, especially with our busy schedule as full-time NUS students, but we keep reminding one another of why we are doing this and how what we are doing truly benefits the society. Work does get tiring at times, but we always try to have fun while sifting through piles of clothes by playing music, chit-chat, sharing our grievances and most importantly, encouraging one another. I think everyone really enjoys being a part of A Second Wear."
All proceeds will be donated to A Second Wear beneficiaries, including the Singapore Association for the Deaf. All profits will go towards helping the deaf community (SADeaf) and migrant workers (HOME) in Singapore.
Members from A Second Wear (left to right) - Dakshitaa Venkatesh Babu, Brenda Hang, Sushmit Sharma, Koh Yu Sen Kenneth
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