During the pandemic, many people have taken the time to work on passion projects – things they may have never had the time to work on before. In many such cases, we are just now seeing the work and the effort that have been going on behind the scenes since the pandemic began.
This is the case for Brooke Grady, one of our very own X alumni, and her partner Ryley Robicheau, who have been working on some very exciting projects as of late. Brooke, was just about to graduate from St.FX with a major in English and a minor in Sociology when COVID -19 hit. She had met Ryley, who studied Business at NSCC, earlier last year when they both attended a Creativity and Innovation Bootcamp. This Design Thinking camp, hosted by NS Sandbox, selects a few students from various universities and colleges across NS in various fields of study who are interested in entrepreneurship and innovation, and brings them together for two weeks of intensive workshops. These workshops are related to design thinking which is a human-centered approach to creating innovations which focus on the needs of people, possibilities in technologies, and how to help the innovation succeed. Brooke and Ryley attribute their work at the Bootcamp to teaching them “… a lot about working in a team dynamic and working through the ideation process of developing something new.”
After having met at the Bootcamp, Ryley and Brooke discovered their common love of thrifting. The pair enjoy finding high-quality clothing rather than feeding into the fast fashion industry which often produces low-quality, low-cost clothing for inflated prices. Brooke and Ryley both report different experiences when it comes to thrifting. Ryley recalls that he has always been passionate about thrifting, whereas Brooke discovered thrifting in her Third Year of University as a way of finding better quality clothing. She has also found that thrifting allows her to confidently express her identity through each new style she pieces together. Something Brooke and Ryley hope people realize is that, in their words,
“thrifting doesn’t look the same for everyone. Sometimes it’s a lot of searching to find the thing that suits you, or that you love, but when you do it will be worth it! When you choose to buy second hand, you are making a conscious decision to choose sustainability.”
“Fast Fashion” in the textiles industry is quickly becoming a huge environmental issue. Inexpensive clothing with a short lifespan means that people are constantly buying and throwing out garments. On top of this issue, the production of the garments also have an impact on the environment - untreated dyes into water sources, as well as the amount of water used to actually grow cotton prove to be detrimental. By thrifting well-loved clothing, which was often originally made of much higher quality material, we can combat these environmental effects. Not to mention, as everyone knows: Things come back into style! Scrunchies, Corduroy, Bell-Bottoms, Neon – all those things that our parents, or grandparent’s used to rock back in the day, will sooner or later become the in fad once again. What better way to support your fashion needs, by being authentically dressed in some high-quality, ethically sourced goods.
This of course, brings me back to Brooke and Ryley! In mid-March, when the Pandemic hit and students were sent home, Ryley and Brooke were left without jobs, but not without direction. The two say that
“as two students who were already passionate about thrifting and sustainability in our personal lives, we decided to make the best out of an unfortunate and unprecedented situation. And here we are.”
The two have been working at bringing their business, called “Less Thrift Store,” into fruition since mid-March. In August, their Instagram store officially launched https://instagram.com/lessthriftstore?igshid=15eb2hyv6ivmo. Ryley notes that the online thrifting community has recently been coming together, and thrifting is no longer just a solo activity. This shift, it seems, has allowed them to do what they enjoy, but also to create something for themselves that will in turn help others hopefully find some second-hand, reusable goods.
On their thrifting journey, their favorites have been varied. Ryley loves NCAA Merch, Hard Rock Café, and Harley Davidson. Brooke on the other hand is partial to finding big and comfy sweaters, and scoring those perfect jeans that fit just right. Brooke has even been upscaling some of the goods, in the form of bleach-dying, and using scraps of clothing to make scrunchies! The thing the pair seem to agree on most is the love of vintage clothing, about which they say:
“Finding a vintage piece always feels special to us…it’s crazy to think of the stories vintage clothing could tell if they could talk.”
The pair love that the pieces they pick up are sometimes older than they are, though the condition speaks highly of the quality of the clothing and the care taken by previous owners of the items.
During the pandemic, though hard at work on their thrift store, they have found solace in other hobbies and passions as well. The pair say that paintings have filled the walls in their house, since their creativity has taken over. Skateboarding has been a common activity in the their lives as well, as they have learned to explore, from a safe distance, all that our province has to offer. This pastime pairs perfectly with something else the two are passionate about: film photography. The two both have film cameras, which has been a huge part of their lives in quarantine. Ryley has even developed a website for his photography! https://ryleyrobicheau.com/
Personally, I look forward to seeing what these two do moving forward, especially with regard to their creative endeavors. The two are adamant that
“while the events of COVID were unfortunate and unprecedented, it certainly allocated more time for us as creatives to pour our attention into projects and hobbies that we enjoy”.