It’s common for people look through their old clothes and see stuff they barely, if ever, wore and wonder, “Why did I buy that for?” Many people donate their old clothes to op shops, but as many women would agree, some of the top designer clothes that never got much use deserve a much better fate than a dingy op shop.
So enter consignment shops, where you can sell your old yet wonderful clothes that will be adored by their new owners. Sarah Woolway has seen the success of consignment shops in the U.S. where she is originally from, and wants to bring the sense of affordable glamour they provide to the women of Melbourne with her own store RedFinch Boutique.
What inspired you to create RedFinch Boutique?
I was a full time mum and I considered that second career as I was a medical scientist beforehand. I saw the empty nest coming and it was pretty daunting, and I’m not one to sit still, I need to be working and using my mind. I don’t like to be idle. My daughter decided to move to the U.S. and she left all these clothes from these lovely labels, so she left. There was about two closets full of these beautiful clothes I knew she wasn’t going to wear again. I remember standing there with my husband, I looked at them and said, “I could open a shop with all these clothes”.
How do the Australian consignment shops compare to the U.S. ones?
In the States, it’s a big industry. People shop there all the time. One thing that bugs me is that people think it’s an op shop and it’s not. It’s for people are trying to cut back on their spending, this is a way that people can buy some beautiful things that are like in new condition, but are about 60% off the original price. I think there haven’t been a lot opened in Australia, the idea hasn’t crossed the ocean like so many other American things do. I think also it’s the mindset that when people think “second hand”, they think “op shop”. Op shops are where you take clothes you’ve worn to death and you donate them. Consignment shops are for clothes where you can’t bring yourself to just donate them, they’re still beautiful clothes and they cost so much money.
How did Red Finch Boutique get into doing events?
We’re supporting Beyond Blue. This beautiful girl named Courtney Keil and she’s going to do the Kokoda Challenge. In order to be part of this challenge, you have to raise at least $1,000 for Beyond Blue. She planned an event at a restaurant, but not enough people came, so she had to cancel it. She told me about it and she was devastated. I’ve had fundraisers like Christmas V.I.P. night and Christmas in July. I told her she could use my shop and we’ll have a ladies day, and 20% off on new stock, and she if she sells the raffle tickets, she could use my shop, which is happening on the 5th of June.
What brands and types of clothing do you usually sell?
We have day dresses and evening dresses. We have tops, jackets, pants, skirts. It really ranges from obscure European labels to labels like Ruth Tarvydas, Alannah Hill, Sass & Bide, Thurley, Zimmerman, Jayson Brunsdon and Lisa Ho. Every once in a while, we get Chanel bags and high end bags.
RedFinch has had the Spring Into Racing fundraiser that has supported the Breast Cancer Network of Australia (BCNA). How did Red Finch become involved in that?
My mum died from breast cancer, and she was in the States and I was here. I couldn’t be there for her during hard times. I’m very passionate about the BCNA, who are there to help the people going through it with support groups and information. They also help the families of those going through it. I didn’t know about the BCNA until after she was gone. I have a fundraiser called Spring Into Racing, which normally happens in October. Last year, we made over $8,000, which is pretty good for a little shop.
Tell me about Red Finch Nest. How did that start?
I noticed how many mums were shopping for consignments pieces and a lot of grandmothers coming in. They can do their shopping, but giving them something a little extra to look at and to pick up here and there.
What are your future plans for Red Finch Boutique?
We’d always hoped that it does eventually get to the point where we can open a second shop, and maybe a third shop, and become the Decades of Victoria. I’m going to continue the fundraising, and expand on Red Finch Nest.
Red Finch Boutique
40 Commercial Place, Eltham
Originally published here at milkbarmag.com on Thursday 28 May 2015