Sustainable Fashion That Supports Children's Charities

Thrift For Good is a charity thrift store based in Dubai that aims to help children around the world get access to health, education and housing while also offering sustainable ways to upgrade your wardrobe. Thrift For Good offers clothing that has been pre-loved and in great quality at lower prices.

With a mission to be eco-friendly, Thrift For Good is saving clothes from collecting in landfills and are constantly doing their part by ensuring that nothing goes to waste. As a volunteer-run organisation that has raised over Dhs 200,000 for children, Connector spoke to Jennifer Sault, founder of Thrift For Good, to get more insight into the sustainable initiative.

Where did the idea for Thrift For Good come from?

It happened very organically. I grew up in Canada, living on thrift clothes as thrift shops were on every second corner. When I came to Dubai, I realised that they did not exist here. My passion is fundraising for children's charities and I was volunteering and working as the Operations Manager at Gulf For Good, which is a local non-profit that raises money for kids around the world. With them, I started doing flea markets on the weekends with a group of friends to raise extra money for the charities and before I knew it, people were calling to give things and to volunteer. Thrift For Good was born from that and took a life of its own really quickly. We started at flea markets and it grew so fast that before we knew it, we have an online store and also opened a store.

How do you pick the charities to donate to?

Thrift For Good exclusively sponsors Gulf For Food, which supports various children's charities. As Charity Director for Gulf For Food, I help pick the projects. Projects are selected based on application, based on need and based on the ability of the charity to report properly. It is always to help kids and usually surrounds health, housing and education.

How are the clothes sourced and received as it is a second-hand thrift store?

The clothes that we have is all a product of the generosity of the community. People can drop it off at our store, anytime from 10am to 10pm. Shyft Courier is also a sponsor of ours and is running around Dubai, collecting all the used clothing that people do not want anymore. We accept all quality. If it is of perfect quality, we make sure to clean or wash it and put it in the store or online. If it is not perfect quality, we sort it out, take it to the flea market and clear it for less price or sell it in bulk. We also donate to local communities in partnership with Hope UAE and UAE Pay It Forward. Clothing that is not usable anymore, we are working on upcycling those into our packaging and other products we are expected to launch soon.

What were some of the challenges faced and how did the pandemic affect them?

Anyone starting a business venture would say that there are many unpredictable challenges. We threw out our business plan about three or four times before we got onto the path that we are on now. The original plan was to take lost and found from hotels and sell them in bulk to resellers. Selling lost and found is illegal as it has to go to the police and with COVID-19, it was not possible to resell in bulk. The challenges and shifts brought us to an exciting place where we work directly with the community to take and sell to our customers.

The pandemic changed our original plan but helped us as people were leaving and donating a lot of things as well as looking for more sustainable and cheaper options. Thrift is the way to go and that does not exist in the UAE. We were born out of the pandemic that offered people something that they now realise they needed more than ever before.

How do you manage to stick to your zero waste value?

We are willing to spend the money if it will offset any waste we produce. We cannot afford an electric vehicle and we offset the carbon emissions from our gas van by planting more trees. Our packaging is all biodegradable, compostable and eco-friendly. We are also working hard to make sure we do not throw any of the donated items out. The clothing industry for the environment is horrible as it is one of the leading pollutants, the process that especially goes into fast fashion and clothing that is not built to last. We offer an alternative by extending the lifeline of clothes and also offer them at affordable prices that compete with fast fashion and give people the fun to switch up their wardrobe by shopping, guilt-free.

Do you have any plans to expand?

We are going to open a second store within a few months and are currently speaking with leasing agents and hope for Jumeriah or the Business Bay area.

How can people get involved?

The whole process is done with the love of volunteers. We are almost 100% volunteer-run and rely on people to help sort, stream, price, present and sell everything in the process. On the Thrift For Good website, there is a tab to volunteer, where you can take on weekly shifts,  join weekend markets or one-off events for the people that do not want to commit. They can join our WhatsApp group and volunteer whenever an opportunity is posted and want to join.

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