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Alumni Anna Summers and Patrick Lucas both work at Rough Draft. Col­legian | Andrew Dixon

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.”