When you have a baby, you’re probably going to get lots of adorable outfits as gifts. But all too soon, those 0-3 size onesies won’t fit, and you’ll need to size up — and fast. For many parents, that might mean buying even more clothing or getting hand-me-downs from fellow family members and friends. What do you do, though, once Baby keeps outgrowing even those outfits? Well, if you’re anything like Carly Fauth, you pack them in a box and join ThredUp, one of the largest online consignment and thrift stores where you can find fab deals at the fraction of the cost. We spoke to Fauth, (who is ThredUp’s Chief Mom) about affordable fashion, being eco-friendly, and the community that comes with consignment shopping.
What were you doing prior to working at ThredUp?
Before ThredUp, I was working as a publicist for a literary publicity company. But then I was laid off when I was six months pregnant due to the economy, which was really stressful. So, right before ThredUp, I was home with my baby. I was looking to get back into the workforce, and then this kind of just fell in my lap.
Well, I had known James Reinhart, one of the three founders of ThredUp for a while, from back in high school. He knew I was looking for something. They were based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, which was about 45 minutes from where I live. At that time, ThredUp was for men’s and women’s shirts. But the feedback that they were getting from customers and investors was that they should be expanding to kids’ clothes, because obviously, kids grow out of their clothes so fast, right? So at that point, the timing just worked out perfectly. Because it was founded by three guys, they needed a mom’s perspective. So he asked if I wanted to come on board and help with that. It started very, very part time in the beginning. But as time went on, and the company became more and more successful, I started working more and more and having more of a take on different roles in the company.
So what roles do you play now in the company?
I pretty much do a little bit of everything. I do a lot of customer service; I do some marketing and public relations. I am Chief Mom, so I’m the person that all the moms out there who are members of ThredUp can relate to. I host Facebook chats each week where we just talk about different parenting topics. I’m usually the voice between the members and the founders and the development team.
And our Facebook community is just amazing. I don’t think any of us expected our Facebook community to take off like it has. These moms come to our Facebook page, and you see these friendships blossom. On Thursdays, we do a Facebook challenge, or we post topics and they just have conversations. It’s just creating a platform where moms can have a place to go to, to chat about different things, and they feel comfortable with who they’re chatting with.
I would think that the kids’ section a ThredUp would be the largest, because kids do outgrow their clothes so fast.
Oh, absolutely. I feel like ThredUp is one of those ideas that you kind of say, like, “How come I didn’t think of that?” When I had my son, I was getting hand-me-downs from friends. But it’s hard because I had nothing to give them back, because they had older kids. With ThredUp, nobody gets the short end of the stick, because you’re swapping with parents across the country. So it takes that whole hand-me-down concept and makes it even better.
It’s also good for the environment because a lot of people just end up throwing out the clothes that they no longer wear. This is a much better way to be green and it’s an easy step towards trying to be a little eco-friendlier.
So let’s talk about how ThredUp actually works.
When you sign up on the site, the first thing you get to do is you get to pick a box, because obviously picking is the most fun. So when you’re looking for a box, you can look by gender, by size, by season, and you can pretty much narrow it down to the boxes that you want to see that you’d be interested in. You pick a box, and every box on the site costs $15.95. And that’s shipping, plus $5. And the $5 goes back to ThredUp to help with customer service, add better features to the site, etc. But we just like to be clear about that. Because we don’t want people to think we’re taking more money for ourselves than we are.
So then you get to pick a box, and then you will be required within a certain amount of time to list a box. And when you’re listing, you have to include things like gender, size, the types of the items in the box — you can get as detailed as you want, or you can be not as detailed as you want. We like to leave that up to the member because we know some people have more time than others doing this. We don’t require a certain number of items in the box, but we require members to stuff the box. We just found that obviously with larger sizes, you can’t fit as many in the box, so giving a number just didn’t seem practical.
And then when somebody picks your box, the great thing about ThredUp is that everything is done from the comfort of your own home. Somebody picks your box, we send you an email, and in the email it has a link to print a prepaid postage label and then you stick the label on the box and you can also schedule a pickup with the Postal Service right on our site that’s also included in the email. You just tick the box outside and they pick the box up or you can drop it at the post office if that’s easier for you.
When you receive a box, you’ll be required to review it. And we have points and stars that are based on the quality of the items of the box. So that’s where you should take into account if the clothing has any rips or tears, has excessive fading or you feel like the person didn’t list it correctly. So when you’re picking boxes, you can see everybody’s ratings. People want to pick from people with four stars. That’s why the better box, the more likely people are to pick your boxes on the site, which then makes gives you the ability to pick more boxes.
How is it working and taking care of your son?
My son goes to daycare. I work from home, but he goes to daycare because I couldn’t concentrate if he was home. I find that the boxes I get from ThredUp are great clothes. It’s nice to send my son to daycare in clothes that look great, but I’m not overly concerned that he’s gonna ruin. So he can have a good time, but still look cute. [laughs] I just got six boxes in the past month!
But I feel really fortunate, because working from home has made it so much easier to balance things. I used to go into Cambridge to work and that was an hour commute. That was really hard and that was only three days a week. I felt guilty about my son being in daycare in the beginning and I just was so worried that I was doing the right thing. But now working from home, I feel like even though he’s a daycare, it’s right down the road. I feel more comfortable knowing that I’m here if he needs me. Even though he’s in daycare more, he loves it and he’s happier there than he is at home. So it’s really worked out nicely.