Two young, queer, Indigenous women have decided to try their luck at opening a small business to push back against fast fashion by reselling second-hand clothes.
Best friends, Ruby Apps and Charlotte Power, both aged 19, have started a thrift shop business, called Waratah Vintage, that will resell retro or vintage clothes donated from Illawarra residents.
"Whenever we hang out, we go op-shopping to find vintage clothes," Ms Power said. "We are always thinking or talking about fashion.
"We are passionate about sustainable fashion and we found there was a gap in the second-hand clothes market in Wollongong and we thought, 'who better to fill that gap than us?'"
Ms Apps, who is a musician, said she hoped people in the Illawarra supported the business as they were just two young women, from Figtree and Fairy Meadow, having a go.
"It is now more important than ever to support local businesses, especially one run by queer and Indigenous women," Ms Power said.
"Indigenous people are the most sustainable culture ever," Ms Apps said.
"As queer women we have a different perspective on the fashion industry and we are sick of old-white men telling women what is fashion."
"We are trying to create a business that we would want to support," Ms Power said.
The university student, who is studying art, said it was important for her and Ms Apps to resell second-hand clothes and create a circular economy as an alternative to supporting fast-fashion that exploits workers.
"When people donate to op-shops such as the Salvos, the clothes they don't want end up in landfill anyway," Ms Power said.
"Our business will give young people in the Illawarra another option and any clothes we don't sell will be donated to women's refuge centres or homeless shelters."
The women said they had received a lot of support to start their business from friends and family, in particular Ruby's girlfriend Ash.
"We hope to soon have a store front in Wollongong, where we will also host drag nights, slam poetry and workshops," Ms Apps said.
"We hope to create a space for the queer community who are passionate about sustainability."
Ms Power has completed a business certificate and the pair said they would draw on the support and knowledge of their families, as well as apply for grants and seek help from Renew Wollongong.
"My parents owned small businesses so we will have a lot of help from them," Ms Apps said.
"We are not naive about how much work is involved in running a small business."
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