Q&A with Jasmine Cheek
Liberal Studies sophomore Jasmine Cheek isn’t just a full-time student — she also runs her own Depop shop, where she sells her thrift finds for affordable prices in an attempt to contribute to making sustainable fashion accessible to her peers.
UTA: Do you want to tell me a little about your style?
JC: I wasn’t really into fashion until my junior year of high school. I just didn’t see it as something that I should dedicate my time to. But I think over the years, my style has changed a lot, and now I like to call it “Grandma Chic” with a little bit of comfort. I really like big sweaters, funky patterned pants and vintage jackets. But I also really like to dress casually and then just accessorize with a cool jacket. I like to have different color leather jackets or different pattern blazers and then I’ll just wear it with a t-shirt and jeans. I feel like when I came to NYU was the first time I got to really explore my fashion sense and try different things and expand my realm of fashion. I love taking inspiration from people I see on the street here.
UTA: You mentioned that you like to take inspiration from people that you see in the streets. Do you have someone in mind that you saw and still remember?
JC: Yeah, actually I went to the Met last weekend with my roommate and there was this group of girls who all looked so cool. I had a total friend crush on one girl in particular. I’ve been trying to pull this off for the longest time and I just don’t think it’s a style that’s meant for me! It’s when you wear a men’s oversized blazer and matching business pants. She did that with these platform sneakers and this really funky mini-bag!
UTA: How do you usually shop?
JC: At NYU, I’ve only shopped secondhand. Mostly thrift stores. I get a lot of stuff on Depop. It’s my kryptonite, it’s just literally my weakness! Recently I’ve been looking more into Poshmark and Etsy. Those are a bit more niche communities. Also, lately Depop has been on the rise. Unfortunately, a lot of people have been increasing their prices and falling prey to capitalism, which sucks because they would sell a tank top for $35 more than its retail price. Trying to find a balance between all of those sites and shopping sustainably is really expensive. So I feel like shopping secondhand at those online websites is the next best thing because I don’t have hundreds of dollars to spend on a single dress.
UTA: When you think of fast fashion and sustainable fashion, what comes to mind?
JC: I think sustainable fashion has an air of classism to it. You have to be in a certain financial position in order to afford first-hand sustainable clothing. There’s a lot of judgment toward people who shop fast fashion, but at the end of the day, it’s just an economic scheme. You pay for what you can afford. You shouldn’t judge people if they can’t afford something sustainable. It bothers me when people go to thrift stores and buy up all of the oversized clothing. They try to crop it or make it into something cute, which takes away from the actual community that needs those oversized pieces. Another misconception is that people assume sustainable fashion is always ethical. You don’t always know the actual working conditions. And I think sustainability usually just implies the environmental factors. Just take Los Angeles Apparel; it is known as being a sustainable brand, but it’s not ethical. So many of their workers caught COVID-19 and they still forced them to come in. They didn’t have to follow any sort of quarantine guidelines. So I think there’s a large discussion that needs to be held about fast fashion versus slow fashion.
UTA: If you could establish a small business after your Depop shop, what would be your dream?
JC: I don’t know if I’d want to have a physical store but if I could make it an actual boutique, I would love to be able to go around and collect pieces and then upcycle them. I would just sell what I think is cute! So ideally, I’d love it if I could make it into an actual side business. I don’t think I would ever pursue it as a career just because I wouldn’t want to lose my passion for it and fall prey to capitalism.
Q&A with Kalina Phillips
Liberal Studies sophomore Kalina Phillips decided to make her own jewelry after she couldn’t find the pieces to match her “pop punk princess” aesthetic. Soon, her hobby turned into an independent Depop shop she used to support Black Lives Matter movement.
UTA: Can you tell me about your style?
KP: I dress like a pop punk princess all of the time!
UTA: How did you discover your style?
KP: It took a lot for me to grow comfortable with my style because I used to go to Catholic school with a strict dress code. We couldn’t show collarbones or shoulders. No midriff, no pants, only skirts. When I finally escaped high school, I was able to develop my own sense of style. I took a lot from social media. I’m from Berkeley, California and people dress very “crunchy granola bar” out there and I kind of wanted to stand out.
UTA: How did you decide to start your Depop?
KP: Basically I love collecting jewelry and there’s a specific type of jewelry, it’s reflective of my style. It’s pretty edgy. Also, I was looking for jewelry that wouldn’t break my bank. I really wanted earrings with swords and skeletons on them. So I started making my own jewelry for me and my friends. More of my friends asked me if they could get some so I opened up my Depop shop and I started photographing my jewelry, posting it all over my social media. Initially I was selling to people in my area, I would try to go out and deliver. Then people not from my area began submitting orders. It was crazy! I was super excited!
UTA: How did you use your Depop for activism?
KP: In June George Floyd was shot by the police and I really want to be able to contribute to the Black Lives Matter Movement. I was making All Cops Are Bastard necklaces and selling them for however much people wanted to offer. Then I’d match the price. So if someone paid $25 for a necklace I’d donate the $25 they paid and $25 from myself, matching their offer. It was amazing.
UTA: What’s it like to run your own small business?
KP: It is super stressful! At first the most stressful thing was the investment project. It was scary that I was going to invest and not really make any money. The second challenge for me was probably time management because I have to make all the jewelry, package all of it, write thank you notes to my customers. It’s definitely stressful but it’s more rewarding than anything else.