When you think of shopping, you might think of visiting a traditional brick-and-mortar store, or maybe a website. But two women from South Shore have recently added a new venue to the mix with a mobile clothing boutique. Their food-truck-like boutique is replete with racks of clothing and accessories ranging from sweaters to pants to bags, as well as a changing room.
Shop the Thrifty Fashionista, run by Joslyn Slaughter and her mother, Jera, has been mobile since the beginning of September. The owners are still finding the best locations to park their boutique and best ways to target their demographic: people who know branded merchandise and appreciate the value of the items. So far, the boutique has sold in the downtown Hyde Park area, on Clark Street between Monroe and Adams, and up north on Lincoln Avenue near Racine.
The mother-daughter team started off selling clothing in a brick-and-mortar store in Bronzeville for four years, from 2006 to 2010. After closing their first store, the two decided to give retail one more chance. Joslyn landed on the idea of a mobile clothing store while watching a television special about fashion trucks in Los Angeles and New Orleans.
Joslyn, who studied fashion at Chicago State University and Northern Illinois University, avidly follows trends and brands, and is in charge of collecting the merchandise. Shop the Thrifty Fashionista sells used designer items, which Joslyn finds by shopping at larger retailers, flea markets, and rummage sales.
The company’s goal is to offer their customers the best merchandise possible at reasonable prices.
“We are very particular about the condition that [our merchandise] is in,” Joslyn said. “If it isn’t something that I would carry or wouldn’t have in my own personal wardrobe, then I can’t sell it to my customer.”
But publicizing the boutique and getting people to fully understand what it is has been difficult.
“Getting people to understand that it is a boutique on here and that you can actually shop on here [has been a challenge],” Joslyn said. Once people do step aboard the truck, however, she is able to explain how the truck works, as well as some of the advantages of resale. Joslyn hopes to counter people’s preconceived notions that resale stores and used clothing are “grimy” by talking sustainability: she emphasizes how buying used clothing is, by nature, more eco-friendly than buying new clothing.
In addition to being open for walk-in retail, Shop the Thrifty Fashionista is available for private hire.
“If somebody wants to host a girl’s night, we bring the truck to them and we cater what’s on the truck,” Joslyn said. “It gives them something new and different to do as far as getting your friends together, having a good time, and being able to shop.”
Shop the Thrifty Fashionista is part of a larger parent company, J Fashion Enterprises, which Joslyn also started. In addition to women’s upscale resale, J Fashion Enterprises has a men’s upscale resale, and a girl’s upscale resale, Jordan’s Closets. They are also getting ready to launch a boy’s upscale resale.
“We want everybody shopping J Fashion Enterprises brands and we want to be able to provide something for everyone in your family, so that’s our goal,” Joslyn said. “Our goal is to be able to turn this into a major business entity.”