Student-Artist Spotlight: Rachel Hughes

Debi Boyle

Rachel Hughes is a senior and a professional communication and emerging media (PCEM) major with a concentration in applied journalism after switching from industrial design. She owns Sifting & Thrifting Co., in which thrifted clothes are altered and sold.

What inspired you to pursue what you’re doing?

“I thrift clothes and I will repurpose them, or rip them, or crop them or bleach them, then resell them. I created an Instagram page called siftingxthriftingco and I basically built up a following and I resell all my repurposed clothes. Some of it doesn’t even need to be repurposed, some of it is just really cool, interesting vintage finds.”

Why did you decide to come to UW-Stout?

“I decided to come to Stout mostly for the major because industrial design was really unique. I switched majors but I’m still extremely happy with my decision. And also, I started playing volleyball here. I don’t play volleyball here anymore but I’m super happy with my decision and both of those things made me the person that I am today and led me to all the amazing things I have the opportunity to do now.”

Who or what do you get inspiration from?

“I think I was inspired to start Sifting and Thrifting because I just love thrifting. First of all, in the past couple of years since I’ve come to college I’ve really grown a love for thrifting, and then just making something old into something new and bringing it back to life, bringing use and function back into something that is no longer [going to] be used or was going to be thrown away really excites me.

How do you approach your creative process?

“I usually just look for anything with potential, good materials, I try out different trends. There’s tons of different clothing trends going on all the time. Sometimes you take risks with which trends you want to pursue. Some of them are more off the cuff than others.”

What are some noteworthy things you’ve done so far?

“I’ve built up a following a lot, which is awesome. I think I am mid 700 followers and everything lately has been selling out. I’ve been able to partner with the Raw Deal a couple times now and host pop-up shops, so I’ll bring a lot of my clothes that I have in and partner with a band or a musician. They’ll play music and I’ll do my pop-up shop. That has been my favorite thing so far, just the energy in that place and the type of people that it brings in is just so fun and it’s always a beautiful night. We’re actually doing another pop-up shop on December 5 at the Raw Deal and it’s gonna be a thrift and art show and we’re going to have some other clothing resellers there, and also jewelry makers and ceramics coming in and selling all their art and thrifting clothes. There’s going to be live music. I’ve been really grateful for the relationship I’ve been able to have with the Raw Deal and those musicians and stuff like that.”

What is your favorite part(s) of the process?

“My favorite part is the finished project and being able to send it to someone who is gonna love it and enjoy it.”

What tips would you give to those starting out?

“I was super nervous to get started. First of all, I was putting money into it, and also I was worried that I wasn’t going to be able to provide anything that was that unique or that different. I would just tell someone to go for it because you’ll surprise yourself on how much creativity and entrepreneurship and curiosity you have in yourself, so just go for it.”

When did you first become interested in what you do?

“I started thrifting in my freshman year of college. Only two years ago, really, because I’m graduating in May. This summer, I really started to get interested in starting a shop. I started seeing a lot of other Instagram resellers and it inspired me. Some of the stuff people come up with, they would be painting jeans. Around Halloween some other resellers had amazing Halloween costumes they made out of thrifted stuff, it’s all so amazing and it’s so good for the environment and it makes people happy.”

What styles do you prefer?

“I would say that a lot of the stuff sort of reflects the nineties style. I think that’s probably because that’s what I tend to wear so that’s what I tend to gravitate toward. A lot of cropped shirts and high waisted jeans, which is very nineties. A lot of that is probably because nineties style has really started to come back to life, so that’s been a huge inspiration. It’s been fun bringing it back, too. It’s not huge yet but everyday I think it gets stronger. People start adding it to their wardrobes.”