A Q&A with Laura Voskamp of Laundry Club.
H: What inspired you to start Laundry Club?
L: My spare room was – and still is – overflowing with thrifted finds. I started thrifting in high school but I never had any intention of reselling. Back then it stemmed from a desire to fund my fashion aspirations on my after-school job budget. So I’ve been collecting for over ten years, and when I’d find something special that didn’t suit or fit me, I had a hard time leaving it behind… Hence the overflowing spare room.
One late February evening a few years ago I came across someone in the states with a massive following on Instagram, and they were actually doing vintage consignment selling other Instagrammers’ pieces. It suddenly clicked that I could use Instagram to tell people about the things I’d found, and find them all “forever homes” like some kind of adopted litter of kittens…
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You can dress her up, but someone's going to ask her to hop on a bike and she'll definitely slice her shin open on the pedal. ? ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ? Maybe if I'd been wearing my thigh highs, my leg wouldn't be bleeding. I thought I'd tell you a bit about these socks that I ordered about a month ago since they finally made it out as a ~*look*~ instead of hiding under pant legs. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ?? I ordered them online from @swedishstockings along with a couple of pairs of knee/thigh highs. I wish I'd ordered more of these little guys because they're hands down my new favourite footwear (and it's also been trickier than I had expected to style knee highs for the office. I will get there!) They're the perfect height and weight, and are able to achieve the unique textured feel that I was looking for. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ This is a comfortable sock that DOESN'T do the following things: ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ – itch – scrunch around your ankle – slide down your heel – pill/run/catch ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ I have washed them three times and there are no visible signs of wear. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ?Equally important to note… they're made out of recycled yarn, their factories use environmentally-friendly dyes, and they use solar power for much of the energy needed for the manufacturing process (this short description doesn't do it justice, if you're interested in a short read, tap "Sustainability" on swedishstockings.com.) If you Google "sustainable pantyhose" you'll find that they're leading the pack by a long shot. #clumsygirlproblems #curatedstyle #curatedthrift #sustainablestyle #swedishstockingsreview #sockstyle #bayofquinte #princeedwardcounty #laundryclub #thisiswhyihavetothriftshopeveryday #swedishstockings #nonewplastic
H: Did you try out any other apps before Instagram?
L: One of the first things that I tried using years ago was Etsy. I struggled with photography and ease of use of the platform – I had just started using Twitter and had yet to really get the hang of social media for personal use, let alone promotion.
I also gave Depop a shot (barely! I’d like to try it again). It’s a thrifted, vintage, fashion reselling app that’s more popular in the UK. It doesn’t have as much traction here yet but I believe that it’s something that’s definitely going to gain more traction, especially with a younger audience.
I don’t use either those apps right now, in part because it’s become easier to use Instagram for the same purpose. If this was my full-time gig, I’d be keen to go cross-platform, because there are great features on lots of different channels and I find that experimentation fun. It’s been a couple of years since I started posting as Laundry Club and the look and feel of my feed has changed, I’ve tried on different motivations and voices to find the right one. And that’s always what I want is to develop and evolve.
H: I noticed you now sell some stuff in stores as well.
L: Yeah, in a pop-up capacity. I’m really lucky to have friends who have interesting storefronts of their own. My friend Tiff is a barber and she now has her own shop and she’s making it into a friendly hang out, a huge contrast from the feel of a lot of salons or barber shops. Being part of a community that’s willing to open their doors to something that’s not their own but that plays nicely with their existing brand is always what we’re going for with a pop-up collaboration.
I’ve been able to pop-up with a handful of fun shop owners at spots like Open Studios Kingston, County Collective, Parsons Brewing Co. and The June Motel in the past.
H: Do you think collaboration within the community is helping Laundry Club be more successful?
L: Absolutely, it’s the only way to go. It’s especially important for side hustlers since we can work together to leverage our efforts – like creating a market or an event where everyone can pop-up, and cross-promoting it.
H: Now that thrifting has become more popular, do you find that it’s more competitive or difficult to find stuff?
L: I wouldn’t say so. I wonder occasionally if eventually, the thrift stores will be empty. But I know that’s not going to happen. People are always going to donate things, now more than ever before. And the people who buy the things from me are eventually, potentially, going to donate those back. The goal is a circular economy–it all goes back.
People are “tidying up” more, too. It used to be that you would have a crawl space or an attic and you would store things forever and have no intention for them. I’m sure some still do that, but it’s not possible for everybody.
H: A lot of people complain about the smell of thrift shops, how do you get rid of the smell on things?
L: A few different ways. It really depends on the smell. I do a lot of research on laundry best practices.
It’s always been something that I’ve been interested in. Doing laundry brings a little bit of a Zen time to my life. I like understanding how the different types of stains work and how different smells work and what you need to do in order to get rid of any problems. It’s worth the research. I occasionally listen to a podcast called Ask a Clean Person–Jolie Kerr is a wizard.
H: What tips do you have for young entrepreneurs?
L: My advice for young entrepreneurs, or even young people who aren’t sure if they’re entrepreneurs, like me, is to take care of yourself all the time. It’s easy to forget about that when you have so many ideas you want to pursue. Your first idea might not be your final business concept. Invest your time and try things out before investing too much money in a concept.
Laundry Club started as an Instagram store, but it is evolving into a community that makes it possible for more people to get involved in sustainable initiatives, whether it’s buying secondhand clothes or riding their bikes to work.
H: I never thought I could buy a thrifted sweater at a barber shop, a bike shop or a brewery. But in this area, it seems like people are more open to that idea. There’s definitely something happening in the community. Do you feel like you’re changing the area?
L: I love that I get to be part of a positive shift. It’s a lot different here now than it was five years ago when I finished school, and it’ll be even better five years from now as we all grow.