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Jaxon Davis: Campus Thrift Store – A Sustainable Fashion Experience on NCSU’s Campus

Did you know that 72% of college students use fast fashion outlets as their primary source for clothes? This fall, I set out to change that statistic on NC State’s campus. Sustainability, affordability, and accessibility – three words you wouldn’t expect to describe shopping for clothing as a college student. To me, having this experience on campus was a no brainer, and I was determined to make it happen. By following through on a vision after 2 years of incubation, Campus Thrift Store’s Vintage by the Pack was able to facilitate the spending of $50,000 dollars in a 6 hour period at our vintage market, Vintage by the Pack. Campus Thrift Store is the result of this vision, where I’ve been working on collaboration between the student body and the surrounding community of Raleigh and Durham.

My name is Jaxon Davis and I spent the fall semester working on bringing a sustainable shopping experience to NC State’s campus. My role here was co-founder alongside an NCSU alumni Katie Fremaux. Keondra Jenkins served as my supervisor and helped me become more proficient in event planning and recruitment – specifically relating to sustainable events, I find it critical to find ways to make sustainability appealing to everyone. Currently, I’m the only member of Campus Thrift Store, however, recruitment is at the top of my list looking forward to the next year and a half I have left at NC State.

As an organization, our goal has been to create a permanent sustainable and affordable clothing market on NC State’s Campus. To do this, we’ve organized several events to bring attention to such a concept. Vintage by the Pack is one such event, serving as our local thrift market where we bring 30 vendors to Stafford Commons at Talley Student Union and set-up a pop-up vintage market for a day. On October 5th of this year, I hosted our first Vintage by the Pack of the semester. We had an amazing day, filled with hundreds of students, ecstatic vendors, and lively music. Our estimates of money made by vendors averaged out to around 1600 dollars per vendor, resulting in nearly $50,000 being spent in a 6 hour period on sustainable clothing on our campus. One goal for this semester was to ensure that we incorporated student organizations on campus who have also been attempting to make a positive impact on sustainable campus initiatives and helping our students adopt more sustainable lifestyles. The Sustainability Stewards, Greater Good Textile Group, NC Conservation Network, among others, were all able to promote their efforts. A PhD candidate from Wilson College of Textiles attended and accomplished research for her dissertation on sustainable fashion, which is incredible as our market was able to directly help improve research on the impact of sustainable fashion. We now had the opportunity to advise on and inspire the next vintage market hosted on NCSU’s campus, which took place on November 30th, called Phi Psi Buy.

Our other event we host on a semester basis is our pop-up thrift store hosted at Wolf Plaza. We collect all of our clothing through donations from friends, family, our campus body, and local stores who have been kind enough to donate clothing, such as Edge of Urge, an NC homegrown boutique. We sell this clothing for $1 per item, no matter the product. This ensures our event can be affordable for everyone, giving people an opportunity to shop in an eco- friendly way that is both fun and cheap. From this event, we have managed to divert over 1500 articles of clothing from the landfill, instead continuing on in their lifecycle. We hope to serve as an outlet for students to get game-day clothing so that we don’t fill up orders at fast-fashion companies for clothing we might only wear once and then not touch again.

I absolutely loved that I was able to culture my external learning experience to apply to the Campus Thrift Store organization. However, it would have not been possible without Keondra Jenkins. Keondra has been an essential mentor and boss throughout this experience. Keondra has many jobs and responsibilities on campus; serving as the Sustainability Program Coordinator, leading the Sustainability Stewards, overseeing the Sustainability Fund, and dealing with me! She’s helped me plan realistic goals and expectations throughout the experience. Throughout all of Campus Thrift Store’s events, our goal is to educate students, faculty, and staff about how they can continue more ethical shopping while staying more affordable. Keondra has been incredible in helping me coordinate organizations, providing me opportunities to discover and connect with those outside of my current circle. This has allowed me to invite organizations to come spread their educational information on sustainability and circularity. Keondra has helped me navigate my own broad ideas and narrow them down so that I can focus on building up Campus Thrift Store in a cohesive manner, ensuring I don’t miss the smaller details in my vision for a sustainably stylish future. Keondra was at the forefront in helping me learn and overcome my biggest challenges during this experience. These challenges involved getting every moving piece on the same page, learning where to compromise versus where to not, and understanding that there will always be kinks to work out, but you must try your best to make a change regardless.

My biggest and most enjoyable challenge is problem solving our campus body’s sustainability issue when it comes to our shopping purchases, and how to inspire people to become involved. The textile and fashion industry is incredibly pollutive and damaging to our planet, and collective change in our habits is needed to rectify the damages we have caused. College students are a prime target to change these habits because we are only having an increasingly larger impact on our world’s path to a sustainable future. EcoVillage at NCSU is starting an EcoCloset which will serve to provide students permanent access to sustainably sourced clothing through store hours in Bragaw and through pop-up events at Wolf Plaza. This is essentially why Campus Thrift Store was started, to provide exactly what is now being done by EcoVillage and the Sustainability Office. Campus Thrift Store is currently in talks to partner with EcoVillage on the EcoCloset and we couldn’t be more excited to see our dream come alive before our eyes.

Looking to my career, I really want to be involved with helping create shifts in sustainable fashion habits. I have gained amazing event planning expertise, especially with a focus on sustainability, and that I could apply this towards potential fashion companies who are looking to capitalize on brick and mortar opportunities. I’m finishing up a double major in Environmental Science and Fashion Development and Product Management next year and I will be applying to a school in Sweden to get my masters in Sustainability in Fashion Supply Chain Management. My dream goal is to help companies learn how to source effectively from local suppliers, so that we can produce garments with a local focus. However, I’m a strong proponent of keeping an open mind and not making premature decisions which may close me off to future opportunities. In other words… I guess we’ll just have to see what the future holds.