A Providence stylemaker runs a thrifty business.
Jay Davani has been thrifting her whole life. She moved to the United States from Iran after the Revolution with her family when she was two years old, and they came over with just one suitcase. “My mother has always been super-thrifty, cutting coupons, shopping discount stores and sales. We never bought things full price. She instilled it in me.”
Davani’s Providence-based, fashion-forward business Suede follows that same mantra. It acts like a clearinghouse for consignment shops, antique stores and yard sales. She chooses vintage and current finds and brings them into the public eye by hosting pop-ups shops, private parties and individual personal styling sessions.
“Thrifting is not for everybody. Most people can’t handle it. It’s stressful, it’s dirty, it’s time-consuming,” says the Brown University event planner who runs Suede in her free time. “There’s a lot of stuff to dig through and you’ve got to have an eye to imagine an item outside of where it is.” Davani takes away all the negatives by doing the so-called dirty work — including dry-cleaning and washing — for you. “I bring the thrift shop to the people,” she says.
The looks she dreams up often include classic items from the ’50s through the ’90s combined with newer sale finds from shops. “When you take vintage pieces and mix them with modern pieces, it’s more approachable,” she says.
Suede began as a blog, but the more she uploaded photos, the more people wanted to buy the outfits. So she started posting things for sale. Then came another idea: Buy It Off My Body. “I would put things on the manikin, and they fell flat,” Davani says. “But when I started posting pictures of myself wearing the outfits with shoes and accessories, people said, ‘I want to buy that.’ ”
Now you can shop her stash on Facebook and Instagram. But don’t expect to see her selling any fads or designer labels gone wild. “I want to make sure something is timeless, so you can have a closet full of really good pieces you can wear forever.”
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