The latest fashion trend is not really a trend at all; it is more of a fashion reformation. Up-cycling is the name of the game, and people who play it well tread lightly on the earth.

This trend has taken the world in a fury. Ethical clothing companies are popping up everywhere. Social influencers are picking up on the trend towards sustainable living and ethical fashion. People like Chloe Kian who runs her own ethical living blog, Celin Semaan who is the founder of Slow Factory Foundation, and Clare Press who is a presenter of the Wardrobe Crisis and a Vogue Sustainability Editor, have each taken steps to fight against fast fashion both publicly and personally. 

Katie Berg is a student at Anderson University in Anderson, SC, and she has turned this trend into a creative outlet to not only up-cycle, but to connect with her community in an analytical and thought-provoking way.

Why did you start your Instagram Up-cycling business page? 

I started my page after selling a few of my old things on an up-cycling app over the summer. It was fun to get paid for things of mine I didn’t want anymore. I began to realize that it was a way to make some extra cash. As a broke college student, it is something I’m always in need of. Thrifting pages on Instagram are not a new phenomenon. A few friends from high school had seen a lot of success after starting theirs. It became something I seriously considered since I knew the model worked. However, I wanted to do things differently than other thrift pages. For me that looked like only doing hand deliveries on campus. This way, I wouldn’t have to go through the hassle of shipping and could also keep things local and personal!

I also wanted my page to have a greater impact than simply buying and selling clothes. I incorporated the thought aspect to create a space where people could share and receive thoughts with others on campus! Ultimately, I just really love thrifting and thought provoking conversation. My page allows me to do both while also putting a bit of extra cash in my pocket! 

What was your mission when you started your up-cycling business?

My mission for starting Thrift for Thought was to create a space where I could sell thrifted things to friends and peers. Simultaneously, I wanted to share the various thoughts and perspectives that exist on campus. I wanted it to be something people followed and engaged with, even if they weren’t interested in what I sold. Ultimately, I wanted it to be something that challenged people in their style and in their current ways of thinking. 

up-cycling with katie berg

How did you come up with the name, Thrift for Thought? 

Honestly, I give all the glory to God for the idea. It really just came to me in bed one night. I had been pondering a few ideas how I could incorporate a conversational aspect to the thrifting side of things. “Thrift for thought” just came to me. It’s the perfect representation of what my page is all about because it touches on the idea that customers receive thrifts in exchange for thoughts! 

How do you advertise/ promote your business? 

I first launched my page with an intro post announcing who I was and what I was going to be doing through my page. Then, I mass followed hundreds of people from AU! I don’t have a main Instagram page, so I relied fully on people following me back and spreading the word to their friends! A few of my friends were super kind and promoted me on their pages. I’ve also had a few customers tell me that friends of mine had sent them to me! I don’t do much else to advertise myself. I really just rely on following people on campus and hoping they are interested enough in following me back! 

How does it all work?

Although it definitely takes quite a bit of effort, it’s not a complicated process at all! I basically just spend a few hours thrifting once or twice a week, take photos of the items, edit the photos in VSCO, create drafts for the captions and answer slides, and then post about 6 items twice a week! People will then bid on items. I will direct message the highest bidder after 24 hours to let them know that they are the buyer. I set up a time to meet with them and ask them the question I would like for them to answer. Then I wash the items and package them up, write a small note thanking them for their purchase. I then make the delivery, and that’s about it!

What is something that has surprised you since starting Thrift for Thought? 

The most surprising thing is probably how much people are willing to pay for thrifted things! I have made upwards of $15 profit on some items. Although I love thrifting and have done it for years, there isn’t really anything special about my thrifting! If people are willing to pay that much for something I bought for cheap at Goodwill, they should try thrifting themselves! It makes me wonder how many people miss out on the world of thrifting just because it seems difficult or overwhelming. 

Up-cycling with Katie Burg

What is a piece of advice you would give to someone else looking to start an Instagram account similar to yours? 

Do it for the right reasons! I make some money from my page but not a ton, and definitely not enough for it to be my main motive. I genuinely love thrifting, but I don’t need to buy things for myself every week. Being able to resell things to others allows me to thrift often without taking a major hit to my bank account or overcrowding my closet!

I also really love the thought aspect of my page and look forward to posing questions and receiving responses. Thrifting and sharing thoughts is why I run my page, the money I make just allows it to be sustainable since it is quite a bit of work at times. If you are doing it solely for the purpose of making money, I’m not confident you will see much success! 

What advice would you give to someone trying to live out an up-cycling lifestyle? 

It takes effort! I spend quite a bit of time thrifting and it has taken me years to get to a place where I can thrift successfully and consistently. When I first started thrifting back in high school, I bought a lot of funky things that I would never wear now. It got me and my style to the place they are now! I know what to look for, what to try on, what to pass over, and what sections to hunt in!

Thrifting is different from normal fast fashion, retail shopping. It pushes you to be experimental in your style because you only have so many things to choose from! It can be tricky and overwhelming at first, but if you stick with it it becomes super fun. Your eye for good thrifts will become natural! Also, paying $4 for a shirt instead of $30 alone is enough to make thrifting worth it, so it never hurts to try! 

What has been your favorite part of starting this up-cycling business? 

Thrifting wise, it is honestly just really fun selling things to friends on campus! When I decided that I was only going to do hand deliveries, a big part of it was just not wanting to deal with shipping. But now, I am genuinely so glad that I have kept it local because I love getting to see my friends and even strangers on campus bid on items and buy things from me! There have been a few times when I thrifted things and had a feeling that someone in particular would like it, and those people will end up bidding on it without me even mentioning anything to them! I also love seeing people wearing things I thrifted for them around campus! 

Thought wise, I have really loved the level of engagement I have received from my followers! It’s always a bit scary asking questions on social media because it can be a bit discouraging if people don’t engage. But, I have had high engagement all semester which has been awesome because I love getting to hear people’s thoughts and opinions. Also, it is encouraging to know that people care enough to engage with me!