I think we can agree that 2020 has been an odd and very difficult year for most. For those in Dubai, many have lost their jobs, left country and/or are looking for less expensive options. Plastic waste is on a rise with many looking to disposable as a more sanitary option. For children around the world, it has meant reduced funding and support as donors cut back... Need has truly fueled Thrift for Good's existence and growth to do our part to address these problems. It has been a difficult but very inspirational year in our journey starting from nothing to now being the UAE's biggest and most loved charity thrift shop. We are so proud to now support local and global communities.
Coming from Canada, thrifting has always been a large part of my life, but more than that, I'm passionate about better futures for children in developing countries and see education and ethical sourcing as fundamental in improving prospects for children around the world. Our small actions and choices, such as where we buy our clothing from, has a profound impact on people and planet.
Therefore, when I was working with Gulf for Good, me and other Gulf for Good supporters turned to selling second hand items to reduce waste and raise funds for Gulf for Good's international projects for the last few years. From the excitement and support, it was clear that a charity thrift shop was desperately needed in Dubai. So, in 2020, we made the plunge to start and grow Thrift for Good.
We registered officially in February and raised funds through flea markets and pop up events. When COVID hit, we could not sell in the same way, so opened the online store www.thriftforgood.org in April, taking pictures in volunteer's homes and personally hand delivering orders. We have been volunteer run since the beginning, but doing this recruited so many incredible and dedicated individuals, which led to our truly rapid growth. As our name spread, we held successful pop up sales, an auction and more. We opened our first retail location in the Golden Mile Galleria Building 8 in November 2020 and we are so so happy and proud to write that it is a success.
LOOKING BACK: WHAT HAVE WE ACHIEVED IN 2020:
Starting at literally 0, we have raised over AED80,000 for children around the world to the end of November, with half of that being in November alone. This has been for the International Association for Transformation in the Northern Philippines to help with their school sponsorship program, for SOS Children's Villages in Beirut to support families after the devastating explosion which shook the world, and most recently for Chicuchas Wasi in Peru, a school for rural girls, to build an indoor multipurpose room to keep school activities going despite the rain.
With the new shop, we are continuing to grow and we will continue to donate 50% of our revenues, being 40-50k per month to children around the world. We hope to also increase that percentage once we repay debts for starting the store.
We estimate that we have rehomed approximately 8,850 unique items this year, potentially saving them from the landfill and encouraging a circular economy here in Dubai.
We have offset our almost 1 tonne of carbon emissions by planting more than 80 trees!
Aside from now two staff members, we are entirely volunteer led and run! Over 140 people have been involved in 2020 to make Thrift for Good a success. We estimate that this is approximately 7740 hours filled with love and dedication to this cause.
Looking forward, our goal is to increase our capacity to rehome more to reduce more waste and raise more for critical children's charity projects through the following activities.
We will foster community engagement through monthly events and hopefully opening more branches in Dubai communities. We aim to hold a fashion show coinciding with Paris Fashion Week, an auction, and a large-scale community "garage" sale.
We aim to engage (corporate) groups with our market sales and therefore increase how often we can participate in markets and pop up events.
Last but certainly not least, our goal is to increase awareness on second hand, ethical sourcing, and engage more and more thrifters UAE wide to make a more significant impact. We will do this through participating in Sustainable Fashion DXB and working together with others in Dubai to make an impact as well as speaker events, workshops, and educating student interns.
It hasn't been an easy year. It's been a blur of 14 hour days, 4am wake up calls, and straining of our backs unloading and loading storage containers. Looking back on this year, however, the struggle is far outweighed by the joy. I am overwhelmed with feelings of heartfelt gratitude and love for each and every person that has been a part of this journey.
2020 has taught us that great things are never done by one person alone, they're achieved by a team of people. Team work really does make the dream work. We've been so blessed to be surrounded and supported by an amazing group of volunteers, donors, partners and sponsors - a strong community we could not thank enough and one we cannot do without 💚💚💚 Our 1st retail store opening this year would not have been possible without this community 🙏
As 2020 draws to a close, we look forward to what 2021 may bring. We want to continue to raise even more money for children's charities across the globe through @gulfforgood. We also want to continue to spread awareness on sustainable fashion. There is still so much more to do 🌟
Founder and Chief Cheerleader
Thrift for Good