Diana Kohne joins me in episode 18 from Northeast Los Angeles to talk about second hand stores and her new community project, Trade Closet. Trade Closet is a private Facebook group for local women to trade clothing, hand bags, and shoes. Trade Closet builds the local community through genuine friendships among women. It cuts down on consumerism, waste, and the carbon impact of shipping long distances. And, because it’s trading rather than buying, it’s accessible to most anyone.
If you’re interested in starting a Trade Closet in your area after listening, please reach out to Diana. She would love to talk to you.
3 Simple Ideas To Make a Difference:
- Live a buy nothing new life. Anything that we want or need, we can probably find second-hand.
- Second hand stores. Start here when we need something new. We can splurge on something that may otherwise hurt the environment, or could normally be out of price range.
- Trade. If you don’t live in northeast LA and don’t have a facilitated trade option near you, contact Diana and explore starting your own Trade Closet.
Diana is a graphic designer with a passion for sustainable and creative projects. Her current projects include Trade Closet LA and Printmakingpress.com, where she provides resources for the handheld printmaking press she designed.
Diana tells us about how she has been into sustainability her whole life. She was a self described recycling tyrant as a kid and made sure her neighbors were doing it right. ;-) Before she pivoted to graphic design last year, she was a visual artist (who often painted on found materials) and launched several enterprises; Art Cricket LA, which helped regular people collect art by local artists and Get Local, where Angelenos could shop locally online. Not all projects last, but the enthusiasm continues. And Diana is a beacon of inspiration on this topic.
Learn more about Diana’s work here.
What is Trade Closet?
Diana started Trade Closet NELA for the local Northeast Los Angeles community near her home. She was passionate about starting something that specifically focused on bringing the local community together.
Trade Closet NELA is a private Facebook group where women trade clothing, shoes, and bags. You start by creating a post for your personal closet. In that post you introduce yourself, share your clothing and shoe size, what you’re looking for, and what you have to trade. You then add a new comment for each item that you would like to trade from your closet, along with a photo. Because of covid, trades happen via a bag left outside the house. If an item doesn’t fit, the woman who received it can offer it to someone else who commented on the original post. Or repost it as part of her closet.
This essentially becomes an alternative to second hand stores. Women can view each other’s closets and make trades. No money exchanges hands, and everyone gets something new. Once covid has passed, Diana looks forward to more in person interactions to spark from this group of local women with a common interest.
Inspired by Buy Nothing Project x Poshmark:
When the pandemic started, Diana realized that she couldn’t keep up her Poshmark second hand stores addiction. So she began looking online for a platform like Trade Closet and couldn’t find one. She said that she found a couple of apps, but they had fizzled out.
The Buy Nothing Project is a philosophy that has influenced Diana’s life and has Facebook groups for trading as well. You can go to buynothingproject.org and find the group that you belong to (it is decided by your address). The groups within Buy Nothing Project are very specific geographically, down to the road that you live on.
Diana hopes that someday Trade Closet will be that large. For now, if you live in Northeast LA you are eligible for this one. If you live in another part of LA, or another part of the world, contact Diana. She’s open to shipping short distances or helping start one near you.
How is this different from ThredUp or Poshmark?
You trade clothes with a woman in your neighborhood. So Trade Closet is all about being local. The clothes are traveling just a short distance, so the carbon footprint is much smaller than buying from large online second hand stores.
The clothes are also free. So you don’t spend money on finding something new. And it’s a great way to make friends and connect in your local neighborhood.
Diana recommends that we all check out The Junkyard Journals on Instagram. She describes how her life has shifted by the even energy balance that comes from keeping products in circulation rather than buying something new. We neither give nor take from the world.
She shares how “Buy Nothing New” doesn’t mean that she no longer buys things. She does. But she buys them second hand. Diana talked about how she’s been able to own a Cricut, which is a plastic vinyl applique machine. But, rather than buying the plastic vinyl sheets that it takes, she buys leftover plastic from the craft surplus store Remainders, and bought her machine on Facebook marketplace. With this she was able to use second hand stores to have a splurge item that would normally hurt the environment, but she kept everything from going to the landfill.
Diana points out that buying from second hand stores doesn’t effect your lifestyle, and it saves the environment.
Building local community pods:
Diana talks about how when she pictures a landfill, it just breaks her heart to see so many things that could have gone somewhere, but didn’t. She’s been a big advocate for purchasing within her local community for a long time. And she created projects to help facilitate local purchases for others.
Art Cricket LA was a project in which she helped people buy prints from local artists for the same price that they were purchasing art from Z Gallery or Walmart. This gave people access to new, unique, local designs and helped artists get their work into the hands of local people who would love it.
Get Local was another project that Diana started. She talks about how she really didn’t like the pollution that comes from Amazon, making products in China and shipping them all the way over here to the US. When in fact, we could just get those products locally and avoid all of that damage on the environment. She created an online marketplace for local only items. But she said that she didn’t have the funding to grow it larger like she had hoped.
Trade Closet has allowed her to combine her passion for bringing together local community and second hand stores. Trade Closet is accessible to anyone. The only potential parameter is the geographical location in which you live, but because Trade Closet is so new, you can probably join the LA one from anywhere in LA. And if you don’t live in LA, you can easily start one in your neighborhood on Facebook. Diana is happy to help.
How the pandemic is changing shopping:
Most of us are no longer wanting to go into large stores because of the pandemic. We either want to support our local businesses because they are struggling. Or we don’t want to be around that many people.
This could begin a shift of more support for small, local businesses, especially businesses that have moved their products online. In addition, when things do open up, we may find that we want to socialize with our local community, in our local stores. This is our hope at least.
Diana mentions a few of her favorite shops that were not able to keep their physical location but have moved online. Here are a few local NELA ones:
And here’s a roundup of Diana’s favorite second hand stores in Los Angeles:
- Acts Thrift Store – A perfect small thrift store experience in Pasadena
- Remainders Creative Reuse – Like a thrift store… for arts and crafts and even office and school supplies in Pasadena
- Full Circle Thrift & Boy’s Republic Thrift Shop – Next to each other in Altadena on Lake Ave.
- The Salvation Army Family Store & The Goodwill Store – next to each other in Pasadena on Del Mar & Fair Oaks (a fun side note, Pasadena Humane is right next to these too ;-)