Today we’d like to introduce you to Ava Pepprock.
Ava, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
I grew up thrifting. From a young age, I perceived it as a treasure hunt. I’ve always gotten a thrill from finding unique and nostalgic vintage clothing, accessories and home goods, and it definitely has translated into my wardrobe and apartment decor. As I grew older, I continued to thrift in my free time. I realized that I was constantly finding really special pieces that I would leave behind because they either weren’t my style or my size. It really bothered me knowing that these really special pieces likely would end up in a landfill. You see, each year millions of pounds of textiles from thrift stores end up in landfills because they aren’t sold or have a “defect”. I graduated from college and was working in retail management when I made the connection that I could purchase and share these especially unique pieces with the world. I started Unseen Clothing in February of 2019. It combined my love of thrifting, fashion, history and sustainability all into one business. From there on out, when thrifting, I would pick up any vintage piece that I knew would be a special find to someone out there. By purchasing it from the thrift store, and listing the item online, not only was I saving that piece from the landfill (for now) but also, giving someone who might not otherwise be able to have that item access.
Over the years, I’ve taken a lot of time to learn about history, both of fashion/brands, but also subcultures and pop culture. I love finding vintage pieces that have a really niche, but obsessive following (like an obscure band tee from the 80s or a pair of late-90s ultra-wide-leg rave pants). By increasing this knowledge, I’ve been able to recognize more pieces that would be considered really special to someone out there. It gave me an outlet to purchase these rad pieces when I was thrifting or at a flea market and curate them in my own online store to resell it on to someone who would get joy out of the item. While Unseen Clothing started solely on Depop (a popular reselling platform), we now sell on four reselling platforms, plus directly on Instagram and via our own website. As of the day we’re conducting this interview, we actually just qualified to be a “top seller” on Depop.
We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
There have absolutely been ups and downs with Unseen Clothing. I’ve made so many mistakes along the road. In the beginning, I was buying a lot of items I thought people would be excited about, just to have them sitting in my apartment many months later unsold. I was buying crappy items, taking crappy pictures and writing crappy descriptions. It was through a lot of trial and error that I began to learn the types of vintage items people would want to buy. I improved my pictures and descriptions over time. The business of vintage reselling is oftentimes a one-person show. At first, I thought I had to figure everything out myself. Over the years though, I realized that there is a massive community around vintage reselling. My biggest mistake was not diving into that world sooner. Finding educational resources on YouTube was huge for me. I realized I could learn a lot from other people’s experiences. I also joined an online vintage mentorship group.
We’d love to hear more about your business.
At Unseen Clothing, we curate vintage clothing from a variety of places. I really believe that shopping sustainably and looking great aren’t mutually exclusive. There’s a beauty in the raw imperfections of vintage garments that can often lead to these pieces to be overlooked. Vintage garments have a wonderful history, style and quality that just can’t be authentically duplicated with a modern piece. Our mission is to inspire a more-sustainable clothing lifecycle by curating unique vintage clothing and producing one-of-a-kind reworked pieces, giving life to otherwise forgotten textiles. I spend a lot of time researching and curating pieces that I think will delight my customers. Oftentimes, when I’m out and about, I’ll see items that have defects in them (stains, holes, etc.). Since a big part of my mission is saving textiles ending up in landfills, I have learned how to sew and rework pieces so they can continue to be appreciated. Something I’m really proud of is presenting a range of products that don’t feel like a “thrift store”. Between my as-is and reworked pieces, I try to have everything I carry feel special in one way or another.
In the photos I sent, I included one of a lined-tote bag I made out of a vintage Harley Davidson shirt. This shirt had a huge hole in the armpit, but I couldn’t bare to see it end up in a trash can. Now, it’s a super rad one-of-a-kind tote bag that can continue to be used and appreciated.
What were you like growing up?
My mom was born and raised in Hollywood and my dad was a punk rocker in the 80s. Needless to say, I grew up around a lot of interesting art. We always had weird, but cool knick-knacks around the house (like a Pee Wee Herman puppet and a drag racing tire… yes, it’s extremely large and heavy). I went thrifting with my mom and sister a lot when I was younger, and we always kept our eye out for interesting pieces. I was born in 1994, so I have really fond memories of the late 90s/early 2000s. As a child, I was obsessed with the Goosebumps books/movies and I ran home to watch Nickelodeon after school every day. I listened to Green Day on my walkman and played with Polly Pockets. Looking back, my interests were pretty textbook late 90s/early 2000s obsessions. As I grew through elementary and middle school, I had many different “phases”. There was the Twilight phase. I had an emo phase. I had a Pirates of the Caribbean phase.
Of course, there was a Harry Potter phase (my first email was email@example.com). I’ve always been pretty outgoing and a natural leader (my elementary school teachers would say chatty and bossy). But going into high school and then college, I really started to refine who I was. I kept super busy with activities, internships and other academic programs. I learned that I thrive when I’m in a busy environment doing things I love. I really think I was always destined to be an entrepreneur. I remember asking my dad to help me set up a “toy repair shop” business when I was five. I really thought the other neighborhood kids would bring their fallen apart toys to me to fix.
- Most of my items are $15-60.
- Website: depop.com/unseenclothing_
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/unseenclothing_/
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/shopunseenclothing/