Q&A with Nomadic Threads
Updated: May 17, 2019
I started talking with Jenna Daugherty and Benny Boysel, the owners of Nomadic Threads Vintage, all because of a killer vintage denim dress.
I had just re-downloaded the Vinted app because I was writing articles about ways to sell clothes online. I wasn't scrolling long before that dress caught my eye. The photos of the item were professional, and the dress was lovingly styled in a modern take on the 90's acid-wash look. This wasn't just someone trying to get rid of an old dress — this account meant business.
Letting my curiosity take over, I started looking through all of the listings on the Nomadic Threads page on Vinted. Everything else was just as thoughtfully presented as the dress, the prices were totally reasonable, and the cute name of their brand was the cherry on top. I started building a bundle right away.
Before I knew it, I had 4 items in my bundle from Nomadic Threads. I sent it in, hoping everything would go through. After just a few minutes, I got a message from Jenna explaining that one of the items in my bundle had just been sold on Depop, another app-based marketplace for pre-loved clothing. Damn! She asked if that was okay, and because I needed that dress (and that button-down, and that silk blouse) in my life, of course I was okay with it. I submitted the order again, and that was that.
But my curiosity wasn't satisfied yet. So much of the clothing on Nomadic Threads was right up my alley, and Jenna had been so nice about my order. I had the feeling that we had more than just fashion sense in common.
I sent another message on Vinted to ask Jenna if she could tell me more about Nomadic Threads Vintage. When she told me her whole story, I found out that what we have in common is a love for sustainable fashion and bargain prices. As someone who has personally found it difficult to find ethically-sourced clothing at an affordable price, I was delighted.
To me, Jenna and her partner Benny are living the dream. They get to travel around the United States, thrifting as they go. But don't just take it from me! Jenna took the time to answer some of my questions about hers and Benny's style, sustainability, and the adventures that come with hunting for unique vintage pieces.
Describe your personal style in 3 words.
Sustainable, vintage, simplistic.
If you could only wear one outfit for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Benny: Black jeans, birds with socks, and a grey hoodie!
Jenna: A black and white striped turtle neck I wear every other day, high-waisted jeans, and my trusty converse!
You were in school for Environmental Science and Sustainability when you learned about the impact that fast fashion has on our environment. What surprised you the most? Why?
I think I was most stunned by the fact that the fashion industry is the second-most polluting industry in the world, right after oil! I had absolutely no Idea how much oil went into making fabrics such as polyester or rayon, not to mention the hazardous dyes that are applied to these fabrics and how their leftovers are dumped into nearby rivers and lakes in the third-world countries that these clothes are produced in. On top of the environmental impact, these fast fashion brands pay the workers in these factories close to nothing and keep them in unsafe conditions. After hearing this information, I couldn't go into Forever 21 again without thinking about the actual cost of buying another $10 pair of jeans. Now when I shop, I look towards ethical and sustainable brands or just buy second hand! But mostly the second option since my budget doesn't usually allow the first.
How did your friends and family react when you told them you were going to take a gap year to sell vintage clothing online?
Friends loved it and encouraged me! I've been really good about surrounding myself with people that encourage me to go after what it is that I'm passionate about. Its taken some convincing with my parents because as most do, they worry about my future and selling clothing doesn't have the same assurance a college education does, but I think they ultimately want me to do what it is that makes me happy.
Financially, was it tough starting out? Were you nervous you wouldn't sell enough?
Definitely! But that's a fear you will have about starting any business, and it can't work unless you try it. I had been selling vintage clothes on my own for a while and had had a promising about of success and viability from that, so when it came time to take the leap to doing full time and teaming up with Benny to become Nomadic and make it an actual brand, I felt really confident in our ability to succeed.
On top of the environmental impact, these fast fashion brands pay the workers in these factories close to nothing and keep them in unsafe conditions. After hearing this information, I couldn't go into Forever 21 again without thinking about the actual cost of buying another $10 pair of jeans.
What budgeting tools do you use to keep your finances straight?
My partner Benny has experience as a GM at a full scale restaurant so he has been a big help in tracking receipts and business expenses and keeping all of those numbers organized, but having a majority of the business being done online, it makes even easier to track sales numbers and things like that.
Have you ever been criticized for the way you handle money? If so, by whom?
Yeah definitely! But who hasn't?? I think everyone goes about their budget in different ways, but my dad has definitely shared with me opinions (and tips) about budgeting as a business owner, as he is one also.
Tell me a little bit about how buying pre-loved clothing helps the environment and why that excites you.
Its basically like grabbing clothes straight from a landfill and giving it a second chance! Thrift stores are great for giving clothes a chance at a second life once the original owner is done with it, but its not always fun or clean or someone's ideal shopping trip sifting through other peoples' clothes in a hope that you can find something clean, your size, and fitting to your style, so if people aren't thrifting, then donated or not, those clothes aren't getting that second life, and will be thrown away and continue to contribute to the ever growing landfills. So we do the dirty work for you! We know not everyone has that special desire to do the dirty work, or sometimes don't see the potential of a balled up t shirt in the bottom of a goodwill bin can have, so we bring that to others as an action step towards our goal of keeping this earth happy and healthy!
You and your partner, Benny, do a lot of traveling. I'm jealous! What's your favorite story from your adventures traveling around the country and thrifting?
What a tough question! Probably the recent road trip from Tucson back to Ohio where we spent a few weeks living out of my Subaru Forrester! We would drive through these little towns no one has ever heard of all through Arizona, Utah, Colorado, etc... where the thrifting trend hasn't hit quite yet like in more populated areas and you find the BEST deals. This town we nicknamed Penguin (actually Penguitch or something like that) had this little hole in the wall thrift store with awesome stuff and they had a "fill the bag special" that day which meant you could fill a grocery bag with as much as you can for ONE DOLLAR! It was so crazy, we walked out like royalty with so many killer finds for $2. Little places like that are always our favorites. Plus that's where you get the inside scoop from locals about the town and cool stuff to do and places to eat.
What's your strategy when you go into a store or market to buy your inventory? Are you looking for specific things? Staying within a certain budget? I'm sure I'm not the only one who wants to know the secret sauce of thrifting.
We both have general styles we just have a knack for, I look for cool button ups and denim, Benny always gravitates towards the Hawaiian shirts and grandpa sweaters. Whenever we thrift together we usually split up and take our own carts our separate ways and start searching, often crossing paths and looking over what the other looked through just to make sure they didn't miss anything or if one of us sees something in a piece that the other didn't. Our tried and true method though is always to reconvene at the end before checkout and do a little show and tell over everything we found and get the others opinion- whether they like it or not, do they think it will be a sellable item, are there any stains or rips I didn't notice, stuff like that just to make sure we're really on top of everything. We don't really stick to a budget, but we always make a point to try to shop the half off colors and go on the days they have special deals. Most thrifts, whether local or corporate, typically do different daily specials and deals, check in on those and just make note of which days to shop at which stores, it'll help you save lots in the long run. Insider tip for the real secret sauce of thrifting — for whatever reason, Cheyenne, Wyoming thrifts have the BEST denim for the cheapest prices.
What is ONE thing you want people to know about how buying pre-loved and vintage clothing can benefit the environment?
I think that the one thing I want people to take away is that when looking into purchasing sustainably, buying second hand whether its from a vintage company or from your local thrift store is always the best option. There is absolutely no production of goods, which is the best way to reduce the waste we create on this planet. Even sustainable brands that use organic cotton and other sustainable materials use tons of water and other resources in the production process of their garments. This is why reusing is always better than recycling because it cuts out the middle man (corporations and burning of fossil fuels) and requires no outside resources.
Ready to buy an awesome vintage outfit from Nomadic Threads? Send a message through the app with the code styletospare for 15% off any item in the store!