Saturday, March 4, 2017

Interview with Thrift Element Apparel Co.

"Fight the Power" T-shirt from Thrift Element Apparel Co.

Sometimes procrastination can happen. Especially when you have been working long hours for 2 weeks straight while being incredibly sick. It's bound to happen. But one thing I never want to do is not tell the story of an amazing brand. I first was approach by the owner of Thrift Element Apparel Co, Desiree, through email to attend her amazing pop up shop and of course I was excited to attend. Once I did my research I realized it was more then a cute clothing brand but it had a deep message that needed to be heard, especially during these times. Even though I wasn't able to physically make the event, I still wanted to share the story of Thrift Element and why its so important to support this brand. Read the interview below and get to know Thrift Element.

Keyonna Butler (KB): When did Thrift Element start and what inspired you to start this brand?
Thrift Element (TE): Thrift Element started about 5 years ago. I was in a space where I didn't know who I was. I had left college in my last year due to a lack of financial aid (I'm still waiting for that free college tuition by the way lol). I felt kind of unaccomplished or like I wasn't successful because I  didn't have the certification of completion. I knew that I was too much of a free spirit to work in the corporate world but that I loved clothes and making them. I loved my skin and heritage. I loved my natural hair. I loved my history. Much to say, my inspiration for Thrift Element came from literally hitting rock bottom and seeing my own worth and wanting others in our community to experience the freedom in being "woke".

KB: How does your brand Thrift Element reflect your personal beliefs & values?
TE: Thrift Element reflects my personal beliefs and values by showing my wants and needs to speak to my community. To give us a voice and enlighten other races on our history. We didn't start as slaves and we won't finish as slaves either. I believe in speaking your mind by any means necessary. I’m a "tell it like it is" type of person and I surely do that in my designs.

KB: What has been your favorite part of having your business Thrift Element?
TE: My favorite part of having this business is seeing the conversations that it starts. I love seeing the comments that I get. I loved when our "Dear Racism" shirt went viral for being so controversial. I love that it made people research their history. Share their voices and opinions so much that Charlamagne tha God brought it up during the Breakfast Club's interview with Michael Eric Dyson. I don't care that he didn't agree with it. It wasn't made for agreement. It was made for conversation. Hey, controversy sells and it gets people thinking. If I have to be the one who "doesn't know their history" for others to research it for themselves, then so be it.

Instagram photo @tethrift

KB: Do you have a background in fashion before starting Thrift Element Apparel?
TE: I never had a background in fashion. I was just always told that I should model or that people liked my outfits/style. I've always been creative. Making earrings and belts out of candy wrappers, making jackets and sweatshirts by hand.

KB: What has been the biggest sacrifice to start your clothing brand if there is any?
TE:The biggest sacrifice with starting my clothing brand was/is spending real time with my family and friends. I recently had my first child in October 2016, so I've been consumed with things that require my attention. Message to friends and family, feel free to come help a sistah out! lol

KB: Can you tell us a little about your event and how it feels to be having your first pop up shop?
TE: Our Pop Up Shop is our very first public appearance. I had the idea back in 2016 to create a line that shines a light on the black women that most of us don't get a chance to see in our history books. When I think about my mother and all that she does for other people, the first theme that came to mind was "Superheroes". Our line features the likes of  Fannie Lou Hamer, Tarika "Matilaba" Lewis and we are releasing a new, unreleased limited edition shirt dedicated to the three women depicted in the film 'Hidden Figures'. It feels surreal to see how many people like the things that come out of my mind, its feel great. Please come out and support! We'll be at the FIRST female black owned comic bookshop, Amalgam Comics and Coffeehouse on March 4th from 10am - 5pm located on Frankford Ave. We also collaborated with Innovative Supplies and created notebooks as well. They've been featured in Jet Magazine and shown on Dish Nation. Please follow them on Instagram @innovativesupplies. All of our collaborations for this collection have been with black, female entrepreneurs.

KB: Is there any significance to choosing the location for your event?
TE: I heard about Amalgam Comics a few months ago and I was immediately interested in working with them. Amalgam is the very first female black owned comic book store. There's no better place to headline my very first pop up shop honoring Black Women as Superheroes.

KB: Where can people shop your items if they can't make it to the pop up shop?
TE: If you cannot make the Pop Up Sop, please check out
EXCLUSIVE: we will be launching our children's site on March 4th! If you love our designs and would like them for your children, please check out Our children's line currently consists of our 'Woke Onesies' featuring the designs from our Civil Rights Collection.

KB: Where can they follow your brand Thrift Element on social media?
TE: Follow us on Instagram @tethrift. Like us on Facebook at

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