Sitting directly above a North London branch of TRAID’s successful chain of charity shops, Maria Chenoweth’s office is homely – in a once abandoned residential flat brought back to life by the creative team behind the charity. The TRAID working space is unusual in many ways. It’s not just Maria’s attitude towards her role as CEO that makes the TRAID office different (when I arrived, she was in the middle of a tea run for her staff), just like elsewhere in her life, everything in Maria’s office is sourced entirely second hand.
After first falling in love with second hand shopping at jumble sales as a frustrated suburban teenager, shopping pre-loved quickly became a lifestyle choice for Maria. If you want to hear Maria’s journey into the charity shop world, click here to listen Maria’s episode of the Clothes & The Rest podcast. However, for this follow-up blogpost, I asked Maria for her advice on how we can best use charity shops to our advantage (and the environment’s)…
Firstly, location, location, location. “I only go to certain shops for my crockery and all my homeware. I know what shop offers the best goods because of the demographic of the area. If you know the demographic of the location, you can certainly guess what the donations are in the shops.”
Her top tip for hunting out the best clothes is to measure the waist line via your neck. “If a garment goes round your neck, it will go round your waist. If a garment doesn’t go round your neck, don’t take it to the changing room.” If you’re having trouble visualising this, don’t worry – check out this video to see how its done.
When it comes to donating to charity shops, Maria is clear that as long as it’s wearable, it’s worth donating. “If you feel somebody would buy it for £1, donate it to TRAID.” Excellent advice, and with TRAID’s collection scheme (which allows you to book a van to collect donations straight from your doorstep), there’s no excuse not to rise to the challenge of their 23% campaign and donate those unworn clothes lurking at the back of your wardrobe. Who says you have to wait ’til spring for a clear out?
If you liked Maria’s tips, and want to hear more of her story, click here to listen to her episode of the Clothes & The Rest Podcast.