THE BLOG
03/10/2014 04:08 pm ET Updated May 10, 2014

Every Thrift Shopper Needs to See This

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By Chris White, Shinesty

At Shinesty, our mission is to rid the world of life-sucking, smile-stealing, boring clothing.

Every week, millions of college students and young adults across the country attend themed parties dressed in unique, outlandish clothing. 80's Ski, America, Tacky Christmas, Tight-n-Bright, Robert DeNiro Appreciation Night, and the list of themes goes on and on.

The problem is that finding unique, outrageous clothing for all these events is hard. Thrift stores are disorganized and inconveniently located, and eBay is a time-consuming hassle. Every week, millions of young adults in the United States face a very serious and very tragic problem when they realize they haven't found the perfect neon pink rhinestone bedazzled dance onesie to dominate 80s night at their local tavern or party locale of choice.

We created Shinesty on Shopify to help solve this horrible problem.

Shinesty is an online store where people can find outrageous and absurd vintage clothing for themed parties and events. Our value proposition is simple: curation and entertainment. Shinesty is a place where people can go to quickly and easily find the best curated collection of rare and outlandish clothing in the country. The Shinesty brand is sarcastic, in your face, and as funny as the clothing we sell.

Shopify is an amazing platform that gives non-technical entrepreneurs a chance to take advantage of technology and sell products online. We are using the Shopify Build-a-Business competition as a coming out party for our company.

We aren't sure what the future holds for us - whether we continue to be only vintage or whether we move into creating our own small batch designs, but we do know one thing: the Shopify platform is helping us provide hilarious, outrageously-awesome, smile-inducing clothing to people all across the United States. We like to think that our clothing makes people laugh everyday.

Since we opened our store in December, we have consistently sold out of all new collections we have released, added 1000 people to our mailing list, and had a kick ass time running our business.

This is what we've learned over the past couple of months:

  1. When you start a company there are lots of ups and downs. You can often feel like you are trapped in a glass case of emotion. Find people who love your idea and who love you. Friends, customers, mentors, your mom (our biggest supporter), your crazy neighbor Buck who knows nothing about starting an ecommerce business but who knows a ton about fishing and life, really anyone who instills confidence in you and makes you feel good. Reach out to these people when you start to doubt or second-guess yourself or your idea. These people are awesome to have in your back pocket for a rainy day.
  2. Listen to your first customers, the people who are willing to try out your product or service before everyone else. You can learn a ton and incorporate that learning into making your company better. We randomly Facebook chatted with hundreds of people we thought might be in our target market before we built or bought anything, and we continue to try and get as much feedback as possible. Really listen to the people who complain or have suggestions for improvement. If you don't get defensive, these people will be honest and tell you what your mom won't. It's easy for a company to say they talk to customers but it's a lot harder to actually do. We aren't talking about sending out a passive survey and asking for responses, we are talking about actually getting on the phone or on a live chat and having a one-on-one conversation.
  3. In today's digital world, you can learn almost anything you want, for free, on the Internet. We've used the magic tool that is Google to learn how to accomplish a ton of stuff that we knew nothing about when we started our company: setting up a photo shoot and taking professional pictures, managing inventory, SEO, social advertising, web design, and so much more.
  4. The most important part of any business is actually selling "stuff;" your product or service. The easiest way to get people to buy your stuff is to sell what people actually want. How do you find out what people want? Look around, observe your social circles, notice what people wear, what they like to do, listen to what people talk about. Consumer-facing companies can learn a ton from social media. Not your company social media profile, but your personal social media accounts. Use your personal social media accounts to talk to people, to bounce your ideas off of them, to get feedback on your idea.

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Chris White lives in Boulder Colorado, and is a JD/MBA student at the University of Colorado (hopefully graduating soon, assuming his professors don't flunk him for spending too much time working on Shinesty and not enough time in class). He grew up in Tulsa, Oklahoma and went to undergrad at DePauw University (in Greencastle, Indiana) where he studied Communications and Religious Studies, enjoyed hundreds of theme parties, and fell in love with mullets, American flag jackets, retro jerseys, and anything 80s.

This year, Shopify's Build A Business Competition is bigger than ever. Shopify is giving away more than $500,000 in cash, prizes and mentorship in its fourth annual competition. Contestants create a store and try to sell the most in their category for a chance to win $50,000 and a VIP trip to NYC to meet their mentor.

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