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‘I get to do what I love’: Student-run thrift shop brings sustainable fashion to Miami’s campus

<p>Lila Jernovi, a first-year psychology major, spends her free time running an online thrift store, @theoxfordthrift on Instagram.</p>

Lila Jernovi, a first-year psychology major, spends her free time running an online thrift store, @theoxfordthrift on Instagram.

Lila Jernovoi scans the sections throughout the store until she sees it: men’s sweaters and flannels.

She surveys the seemingly endless line of clothing racks, searching for hidden gems scattered among them. Most of the pieces in this section tend to be in good condition and from quality brands. However, she can’t buy them all, so Jernovoi ignores those with damage or stains and grabs a few that look vintage and slightly worn before moving on to the next section.

When her cart is full, the first-year psychology major at Miami University heads back to Thomson Hall and heaves the clothing up to her residence hall room. Beneath her bed, hidden behind a dresser and white bed skirt, are various crates where she keeps a stockpile of vintage clothes to sell on her online thrift store, Oxford Thrift.

Jernovoi started the Instagram page, @theoxfordthrift, in early November after going on an impromptu shopping trip at a thrift store 20 minutes outside Oxford. The stop resulted in an $80 clothing haul, inspiring Jernovoi to look for similar stores in the area. But, besides the Oxford Goodwill, her search turned up empty.

“I thought that it would be good to give people more access to cool, unique vintage pieces because, obviously, everybody loves having a one of a kind piece,” Jernovoi said.

Items are posted on Jernovoi’s Instagram page twice a week, and interested buyers are instructed to direct message Jernovoi so cost can be negotiated, if necessary. Although no prices are listed on the page for browsing, everything is available for $25 or less, and all transactions are completed with Cash App or Venmo.

In order to stay organized, Jernovoi keeps track of available items with a Google spreadsheet.

“I thought, ‘Why not give more students access to thrifted clothing?’” Jernovoi said. “Because then, I get to do what I enjoy, which is find[ing] unique pieces … And, I still wanted to make it relatively affordable.”

After purchase, customers can pick up their item at Jernovoi’s residence hall. Even with classes and extracurriculars — Jernovoi is also a Student Engagement and Leadership Ambassador (SEAL) — she tries to be available for pick-up at least two or three hours every day.

Because access to thrifted clothing is somewhat limited in the Oxford area, Jernovoi often travels home to Columbus or out of town to stock up on new pieces at local consignment stores and second-hand shops. Each trip typically results in five to 10 items. Her favorite stop is the Goodwill in Westerville, Ohio.

Besides affordability, Jernovoi enjoys thrifted fashion for its experimentation and sustainability, features she hopes to bring to the Oxford area.

Before starting the shop, Jernovoi said she was hesitant to even tell her family about the entrepreneurial idea because her parents have long been involved in the business industry.

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“I admire my parents so much, and I didn’t want them to think it was something stupid because I obviously didn’t want to disappoint them in any way,” Jernovoi said.

But, when the two visited for Family Weekend and Jernovoi revealed her stockpile of thrifted clothing, her parents were ecstatic.

“They were very excited about it, and, right away, wanted to help in any way that they could,” Jernovoi said. “They were very supportive, very helpful.”

Now, anytime Jervnovoi has a question, they’re the first people she goes to for advice.

“They’re immigrants,” Jernovoi said. “They’re entrepreneurs. They’re speakers; my mom has done TED Talks. They write books. They make websites. They sell products … They have been an excellent resource because they have so much experience with that.”

Since starting the business last month, Jernovoi has already learned a lot. For example, she said it’s best to group and style items together, rather than post them individually. Additionally, displaying a wide variety of items offers buyers more options to choose from. 

“It’s been less than a month so far, so I’m still trying to figure out how I want to post, how often, what items, how I want to group them [and] how I want to price them,” Jernovoi said. “I’m just taking it day by day.”

Although the business is still new, Jernovoi has several plans to help the shop grow in the future. The first step? Creating a website over winter break.

“My goal is just to get more people to buy thrifted clothing,” Jernovoi said. “I think sustainable fashion is a good idea, and I get to do what I love. I get to thrift. I get to share it with other people.”