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GTPulse: Boutique Owner Shops Traverse City Secondhand Stores For Her Sustainable Business

Promo Image: GTPulse: Boutique Owner Shops Traverse City Secondhand Stores For Her Sustainable Business

A new ad campaign for online clothing boutique thredUP features actress Olivia Wilde wearing t-shirts with phrases like, ‘Choose Used’ and ‘Used Goods.’ The campaign roots from an initiative to reduce consumer waste and encourage people to wear secondhand clothing. The sayings are printed on plain, used clothing and sold off of thredUP’s website. Seamstress and business owner Shari Woolley supports this campaign to #ChooseUsed and has been a part of the movement long before there was a branded hashtag for it.

Shari b. green is a pop-up clothing boutique started by Shari Woolley. She was inspired to start her shop 6 years ago when her daughter Cecilia Woolley was getting ready to be a freshman in high school. Shari and Cecilia shared a love of nice clothing that made them look and feel good, but didn’t love the high price tag that came with high-end clothes.

“We loved certain clothing, but it was all really expensive stuff so you could only find a couple pieces that you could include into your wardrobe every year.”

Shari has a degree in fashion design, so she and her daughter sat down and analyzed what they liked about all the designer clothes that were so expensive.

“I said I think we can re-create this. Let’s go to Goodwill.”

The pair went to Goodwill and found clothing with fabric or detailing that they liked. From those secondhand clothes they bought, Shari created an entire new wardrobe for her daughter. She then gave her own closet a refresh by updating and combining pieces in her own closet that no longer suited her current fashion taste.

“I was just completely bored with the clothing that was out there. I wanted something artsy but didn’t wanna spend like, $300 every time I got a new piece. I wanted to make it so that I could afford it.”

A love for creating clothes for herself, and getting flooded with compliments and inquiries as to where she bought her clothing inspired Shari to start her store Shari b. green.

Shari b. green tops are cut to be flattering to a woman’s shape. She makes sure to create tops that highlight a woman’s more feminine features like their collarbone and waist, and minimize typical problem areas with flowy fabric over the hips.

“I design clothing for an older woman, a more mature body. I cut it to go in where women go in and go out where women go out.”

Despite wanting to create clothes that make women feel feminine, Shari felt strongly about sustainability and waste after watching the documentary True Cost. The environmental impacts of the fashion industry horrified her so much that she left her full time career to pursue her Shari b. green boutique.

“In 1960 90% of the clothing that was sold in the U.S. was made in the U.S. By the 1990s it had been cut down to 53%, now 3% is made in America. What happens is the fast fashion people want to sell something at a certain price, a t-shirt for $8.99. The workers are making $1.25 an hour and these factory owners are pushed to keep these factories running all the time. It’s just this horrible system,” Shari said.

Horrible working conditions and low pay for factory workers are not sustainable or ethical. Purchasing clothing secondhand cuts down on the demand for fast fashion clothing from brands like Forever 12 and H&M.

Traverse City is a secondhand shopping paradise. Shari enjoys thrifting in Traverse City because of the high quality items at reasonable prices and abundant options for thrift, antique and consignment shops. I met Shari at a favorite shopping spot of hers, Traverse City’s Zany Consignment Boutique West for their annual Flea Market Sale and am I ever glad that she invited me. The boutique had tents full of beautiful, secondhand designer clothes, shoes and jewelry for $5. Naturally it was a madhouse, but I walked away with a vintage gown worthy of Janis Joplin, and a Tommy Hilfiger cocktail dress that looked straight out of Jackie Kennedy’s closet. Shari walked away with a bunch of material for new Shari b. green clothing.

Shari looks for clothing to re-create that has high quality fabric. She goes to many sales and particularly loves Traverse City’s secondhand offerings. The clothing she recreates goes with her while she tours Northern Michigan at markets, fairs and pop-up shops every summer. Although Shari calls Georgia home, she and her husband bought a cottage in Bitely, Michigan where Shari has her own sewing room that she is renovating. Shari makes her last Michigan stop for the summer at the Frankfort Fall Festival, August 31 through September 2.

Choose used in Traverse City at the many wonderful secondhand stores and you’ll be contributing to a cleaner, greener, more sustainable environment.