When Peyton Bowen ’18 purged her closet last year, she discovered an outlet for her thrifting obsession.
Bowen, a Hillsdale College admissions counselor, created her own Instagram clothing store @peybaezcloset. Just last month, she hosted a pop-up shop at Rough Draft for her online thrift store during orientation weekend, Aug. 19 – 21.
Bowen’s online store features high-end, name-brand clothing items in both vintage and modern styles. The pop-up shop featured 120 of Bowen’s finds; most were unreleased to her online store. Bowen said about 100 people came through the shop, and she sold about 80 pieces over the weekend.
“It was a blast. I was just listening to music, staring at clothes, drinking coffee, it doesn’t get any better than that,” Bowen said. “It was just a constant fashion show, which is my happy place.”
Taught to thrift by her grandmother from a young age, Bowen has been an avid thrifter all her life, but didn’t start selling her thrifted finds until over a year ago.
“The origin of peybaezcloset was a COVID-19 project, basically just cleaning out my closet,” Bowen said.
She originally started selling on Poshmark, but found that the platform did not provide her with the monetary benefit her high-end finds warranted. After she started seeing the success of her Instagram page, Bowen decided to make her project a long-term hobby.
In her time at Hillsdale, Bowen majored in politics, captained the women’s swim team, was a member of Chi Omega and College Republicans, and served as a senior class officer.
Now, as an admissions counselor for the Northeast, she lives in Washington, D.C., and thrifts in her spare time.
“D.C. has much better thrifting, the options are just so limited in Hillsdale,” Bowen said.
Sophomore Annaliese Oeverman said she is not a huge thrifter but went to the pop-up shop anyway.
“I thought it’d be a great opportunity to expand my style,” Oeverman said.
While she did not purchase anything at the shop, Oeverman said that the experience was inspiring.
“It showed how you can save money but still look super cute and in-style,” she said.
Oeverman said that she loved her experience at Bowen’s shop since it did not feel like normal thrifting, but was a fun, classy environment.
Sophomore Mary Clare Hamilton said Bowen’s shop combined the joy of shopping with Hillsdale’s community.
“To go and try on clothes and have a room full of women hyping you up was such a fun experience you don’t get just normally shopping,” she said.
Hamilton, who bought a black dress and a Lululemon vest, said that talking with Bowen about the aesthetic of each piece was the best part of the shopping experience.
“We got to chat about how we would style all the clothes and who we thought could rock them,” Hamilton said.
One of Bowen’s favorite parts about her pop-up shop was getting to meet incoming freshmen and their families, and connecting with some of her online followers in person. One of the best parts of running an online thrift store is connecting with so many people over fashion, she said.
“I really appreciate the community and the loyalty of my customers,” Bowen said.
Bowen has connected with shoppers across the country who message her on Instagram about her products and fashion in general. In addition to selling her finds online and hosting the occasional pop-up shop, Bowen will shop for particular items that her customers and friends request.
“It’s really nice to have someone who trusts you to go find them something,” she said.
Thrifting is not always easy, according to Bowen.
“Thrifting effectively is actually like an art or skill,” she said. “I have to get myself very familiar with trends, brands, and prices so I know if something is worth selling.”
Bowen noted that she has to know even the smallest details, like the color or shape of a tag, to know what year something was made and if it is still in style.
Bowen said the most challenging thing about running her online thrift shop is deciding how big she wants the shop to grow since she also works her full-time job as an admissions counselor. She also has to tailor to her unique audience.
“I love posting the name-brand stuff that’s good for wearing every single day,” Bowen said. “But I’m a sucker for a good, weird, vintage outfit.”