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My Sisters Closet: The Standard in Profitability, Sustainability, Charity, and Style


Posted by My Sister's Closet

What was happening in 1991?

- The first commercial website was launched
- Neiman Marcus opened in Scottsdale
- The US liberated Kuwait from Iraq

What wasn’t happening was the practice of sustainability. Nobody even knew what it was. So, not surprisingly, discerning consumers didn’t want to wear other people’s used clothing – luxury or not. Nevertheless, we had this crazy idea that buying and selling high-end used items could be good business if we created an experience that equaled traditional retail. That meant designing a store that looked, felt and smelled like a trendy boutique, not like some dingy thrift shop. Impeccable customer service was non-negotiable. With our plan in place, we opened the first My Sister’s Closet store in 1991 in Central Phoenix. This would prove to be the first of many crazy ideas over the ensuing decades.

After 28 years, our stores continue to show vibrant year-over-year growth. In the retail world, that’s rare. While we’ve had great success adding home furnishings, men’s apparel and expanding our brands into Southern California, we’ve also learned some lessons along the way. For example, selling and consigning wedding dresses and kid’s items weren’t such hot ideas in hindsight. Eleanor Roosevelt once famously said, “every day do something that scares you” and owning a retail business more than helps us meet her challenge.

Whereas people once were embarrassed or ashamed to wear used clothes, nowadays they brag about the smoking deal they got on designer jeans or shoes. Sustainability and recycling have become retail buzzwords and societal trends. Today the resale bandwagon is jam-packed with wannabe stores, some of which are even backed by venture capitalists. However, My Sister’s Closet continues to be the gold standard for the industry.

One of the areas where we have always forged a new path is our dedication to community involvement. For 20+ years we donated unsold merchandise to the thrift stores of our favorite non-profits. We came to realize those stores weren’t producing as much revenue as they could have been for their organizations. Which shouldn’t be such a surprise since running a retail store is pretty different than administering a successful nonprofit. On the other hand, we do know a thing or two about retail, and that gave us an idea. It was time to raise the bar and raise it we did.

In 2014, thanks to the flexibility of our landlord, we opened our own 501(c)3 thrift store in Chandler. This would be the first brick and mortar initiative of our nonprofit arm, My Sisters’ Charities. Over $100,000 was generated in less than six months and in 2018 the store netted $300,000. This helped propel us to making a $1 million donation to the Arizona Humane Society. My Sisters’ Charities also proudly supports Fresh Start, Defenders of Wildlife, Phoenix Art Museum, SW Autism Center and Rancho Coastal Humane Society (San Diego), to name a few.

As community leaders, the sisters also serve as board members for some of Phoenix’s most respected organizations. Ann currently sits on the Board of Directors for both the Arizona Humane Society and the Phoenix Art Museum, after previously serving on the boards of Fresh Start, The Nature Conservancy and SW Wildlife Conservation Center. Tess was recently named a Trendsetter in 2019 for her charitable work for the Arizona Humane Society, Fresh Start, SW Wildlife Center and the Phoenix Art Museum.

Another major initiative in our commitment to sustainability has been eliminating single-use plastic items likes bags, cups and straws in all of our stores. This initiative began internally years ago and in 2019 we launched an external awareness campaign targeting local and national consumer businesses. Slowly but surely, people are learning about the devastation plastic has unleashed on our environment and wildlife, and we are proud to say they are starting to do something about it thanks in part to our advocacy.

What’s next? Well, we plan to make the 20’s roar! Initiatives are being rolled out that will yield even higher quality inventory, improve customer service and enhance the look and feel of the stores. We’re as committed to our brick and mortar locations as we were back in 1991. We remain passionate about being community leaders, specifically supporting homeless pets, the environment, wildlife, and women’s organizations. We might have graduated from the school of hard knocks when we started out, but as our mom taught us, “until you fail you don’t succeed.”



Fashanthropists: Tess Loo


Posted by Tyler Butler of "Giving in Style"

Posted originally on Giving in Style's blog. Tyler Butler's Giving in Style showcases the convergence of fashion and philanthropy.

Tess Loo is the infectious creative force behind the My Sister's Closet (MSC) brand. Her sunny disposition and focus on positivity are evident in her work and in the way in which she herself dresses. At her core she is an artist and she expresses herself through many different mediums. Tess has taken the MSC brand and elevated its cool quotient through her visual window displays, imaginative fashion shows and her undeniable eye for exceptional finds at unheard of prices. She sets trends rather than following them. And her influence extends well beyond the MSC stores and advances the visibility and sophistication of many important causes. Tess's personal brand is based on the concept of love and sharing and she is often compared to being a ray of sunshine in what can be an otherwise cloudy world. Plus, MSC is the official fashion partner for Giving In Style - keeping fresh, current, designer looks popping up at every special occasion thanks to their many boutique locations. Learn more about Tess Loo...


How do you describe what you do:

I describe myself and what I do in several different ways, first as a designer. The definition I like for designer describes what I do on a daily basis. If I am given a problem the needs to be solved, I design a solution. I am also a designer in a different way. I design, create and execute store visuals 7-8 times per year for our stores in Arizona and California. My visuals are creative, bright and fashion forward capturing the latest trends, colors and styles. My designs feature styles and fashion I create such as my Have a Very Gucci Holiday displays, where I crafted Gucci-esque fashions for our 43 mannequins.

Multi-media artist. At our stores we consign fashion for women and men and home. There are times I have the opportunity to work with local TV stations to talk about these topics. I will do segments on what to wear to an event. I just did a segment on what to wear to Barrett Jackson. We also completely change The Closet and Well Suited inventory, twice a year and I do segments discussing our amazing deals and steals and what to look to wear for the upcoming season. I have spent time talking about home décor and offering creative ideas for gift-wrap and DIY projects. My former home in PV has been featured on Cool Homes and the AZ Republic. Decorating my living space is something I have always enjoyed doing. In my early 30's when I lived in Colorado I was featured in Better Homes and Gardens living in zany loft I painted from floor to ceiling. As a multi-media artist I also used to write a column for So Scottsdale called "What the Frock". Today I write a newsletter for MSC. Personally I write a blog where I express life.

Fashion Stylist?. Naturally I talk, breathe and live fashion. I was born with a handbag on my tiny arm and fashion is something that I naturally love. How we dress is a way of expression. It is a sign of self-respect to put our best foot forward always. At our stores I help clients select the best looks for their lifestyle, I have dressed local TV and radio personalities and I will assist anyone that asks for advice on what or what not to wear. We have done social media contests where the winner gets to send an afternoon with me selecting new looks. This is my favorite thing to do. Helping a person find their inner-beauty and express externally it with their clothing.

What is the mission for your giving:

Giving back to my community through my creativity and fashion is something I have always done and believed in. In my past in Colorado I owned a high-end women's boutique called LuLu and I gave back to various organizations in my hometown. On many occasions I was producing fashion events that always involved a non-profit. I supported The Colorado Springs Fine Art Center and my ex-husband and I created a fundraiser for the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo that is still profitable today.

How do you give back to society through your business:

At My Sister's closet we give back to society in so many ways. First of all we are recycling quality products to extend their life. In our society of instant gratification and mass-produced low quality clothing, it's key to buy and recycle quality wearables with hopes of less waste heaping up our massive waste landfills. A beautiful designer handbag has decades of life being passed from one fashionista to another.

In 2017 we started a campaign to end the use of single use plastic. We installed water vessel refilling stations in our stores and eliminated our use of plastic shopping bags. We are amping up this campaign and doing our best to stop the use of single use plastic before the plastic waste takes over the oceans and landfills.

My sisters donates hundreds of thousands of dollars annually to a handful of charitable causes. Ann and I have co-chaired several large galas in the valley that have raised close to a million dollars each. We have chaired the Fresh Start Women's Organization Gala, The Phoenix Art Museum party, (WARHOL) and now Compassion with Fashion 2018. We have also produced the fashion show for AHS for 4 years and I have headed up the décor committee for Compassion with Fashion in 2012. As an extreme creative I always go into these projects with a mission to do my absolute best to make each event unique. For Fresh Start, I used the working name The Best Gala Ever and changed the energy of the event. For the PAM we had the party in the parking lot and created a warehouse environment complete with go-go dancers and a graffiti'd storage container entrance.

Charity or Charities of choice:

My charities of choice are The Arizona Humane Society, of course and The Fresh Start Women's Organization. Both have a very special place in my heart. I believe in helping those without a voice.

Why have you supported these causes:

I support the AHS because I was raised with Ann as my sister. She taught me the beauty in helping a homeless animal in need. Ann and I have traveled many places together and where ever we have been in the world she is always rescuing an animal. How could I not help her and them? Our pets give us so much love. The least we can do is keep them safe and healthy.

Fresh Start Women's Organization holds a very special place in my heart. When Ann and I chaired their gala I photographed over 100 women walking through the doors at FS. I met them, hugged them, listened to their stories and cried with them. I understand because I too have been them. I know what abuse feels like. I am a survivor. We need a big voice against emotional, verbal and physical abuse. I am a big cheerleader for women that have the courage to ask for help and are brave to start fresh through all adversities.

Favorite business based on their giving efforts and why:

I like fashionable companies that give back. I am a big fan of H and M, Madewell, Lorna Jane and others that recycle the clothes you bring back to them. There's so much waste in the world. I believe in recycling as a form of giving back to Mother Earth. H and M also gave school supplies to refugees this holiday season. Pura Vida gives artisans full time jobs and gives back to over 190 charities.

Who influenced your spirit of giving and how:

My spirit of giving has been influenced by several people in my life. Growing up and as a young woman, I was associated with families of philanthropy and I learned why and how to give back. I am an empath so I naturally can feel compassion for others and always want to help. To me giving back is natural. As I mentioned above Ann has influenced my love for animals and nature. These days as a single woman with a daughter at University, I cannot write a large check but I can be there with my creativity to give what I can. We all can give back and help others.....

How do you believe fashion can aid philanthropy:

Fashion is a way of communicating and carrying a message. At this year's Golden Globes all the actress's wore black and both men and women had lapel pins with the Times Up message. A popular trend for the past few years that is gaining momentum is "sloganeering", the trend of wearing your message on a tee, handbag, belt straps, etc. Dior, Gucci and other popular fashion houses have been doing this for years. It's really just a sophisticated version of the message tee of the past. We can dress our bodies to communicate a stand we are taking for or against a cause. H and M, Madewell and other companies have their recycling programs where you bring in old clothes and they recycle them to new denims, blouses and more. And of course there is the fashion show that always brings in a crowd and can raise money for philanthropy.

What is your biggest philanthropic accomplishment:

True philanthropy requires creativity, a positive mindset and is no longer about writing a $10,000 check. There was a time in my life my ex-husband could write a very large check, I could have made a decision to sit back and do nothing but let him give money. I never did that. I always said I would give back just as much if not more by using my creativity. I designed logos, invitations, ballrooms, table décor and any element that needed to be created. I knew that if an event had a strong visual appeal it would bring in more guests and more money. I give back to our community and to the world any way I'm able. To me the meaning of life and love is giving and receiving and it is through the helping of others we heal ourselves. My biggest philanthropic accomplishment is yet to be achieved. I hope to help women that have lost their voice by sharing my voice and story?stay tuned. I do think this is the year of the woman.

Favorite philanthropic quote:

"To move forward one must give back." - Oprah Winfrey




Spring Unveiling with My Sister's Closet


Posted by Guest Blogger Mandy Holmes

It's almost Spring time which is totally bizarre since let's be honest, my Christmas tree is still up, but with temperatures in the high 70's and sunshine everyday I'm not complaining. With the gorgeous weather comes gorgeous clothing so I've teamed up with my friends at My Sisters Closet (pretty much the only place I shop for clothing!) to share a few of my favorite colorful outfits for Spring.


Dolace & Gabbana Floral pencil skirt $99.95
Ted Baker Scarf $34.9
Equipment blouse- $59.95
Jo Jo Cat purple butterfly pumps $14.95




Kate Spade blue cuff- $24.95
Kate Spade Gold white bangle- $19.95
Kate Spade red white script cuff - $15
J Crew Orange bangle- $14.95
Jay Godfrey Red dress- $79.95
Cameo Pearl Pumps $12.50




Jo Jo Cat purple butterfly pumps $14.95
Laundry Shelli Segal Dress $24.95
J Crew shocking pink necklace $14.95
Kate Spade purple necklace $14.95




Rainbow cat butterfly shoes yellow $14.95
Sportmax Skirt- $49.95
Frame Striped blouse- $39.95



Moschino Cheap & Chic Floral Skirt $59.95
Moschino Cheap & Chic Floral Jacket $69.95
Foree Multi strand pearl necklace $145



Jamaro Maxi dress $14.95
Blue Wing Heels $12.50



The Real Housewife of Scottsdale Mandy Holmes Shops MSC For The Holidays


Posted by Guest Blogger Mandy Holmes

Fall is my very favorite time to get dressed, as it allows for everything I love: texture, prints, pops of color, and layers. This season I've teamed up with my favorite consignment boutique in town, My Sister's Closet to share a few of my favorite holiday finds.

Starting with this whimsical dress from Diesel ($34.95) - it is truly a showstopper! The material moves with every step you take and with the cut and neckline details, doesn't require many accessories. I love the mint green hue and forgiving shape (since we all know I LOVE holiday cookies) and the leather snap neck embellishment adds a bit of an edge. Think nice list meets naughty list. I paired this dress with a crystal bracelet ($39.95) in the fine jewelry section of My Sisters Closet.


Adding a pop of color is always a good idea, especially red during the holidays. I adore these wide leg red pants by Leifsdottir ($24.95) with a patterned top like this Joie brand houndstooth ($34.95) blouse. These pants still had the original tag attached and retailed for over $125! A bargain and style? Can't beat that! With the help of Maggie at My Sisters Closet, we paired a just-the-right-size cross body Marc Jacobs metallic blue bag ($89.95) to complete the look.


With the AZ temperatures dipping into the 50's at night, I was on a mission for a stylish but functional jacket and the fact that velvet is HOT this season, the gals at My Sisters Closet and I thought this was the perfect combo. The faux fur coat from Betsy Johnson ($29.95) and cocoa colored velvet dress from Rachel Roy ($24.95) combine to create the coziest look that with a shoe and jewelry change is versatile enough for the office or that after work holiday get together. In this case, the necklace adds just the right pop of sparkle.



Speaking of mixing textures, I will thrilled to find this sparkly little number from Dress the Population (on sale for $19) and combine it with a leather biker jacket ($55) to create a little rockstar vibe. If you're looking for a New Years option, this could be it. Rock and roll meets glam if you ask me.


One of my favorite parts of shopping at My Sister's Closet is when you find an expected piece that feels like it was designed just for you and the cost is less than your morning Starbucks. That's exactly what happened when I picked up this Michael Kors fur lined sweater poncho ($12.50). Not only did it fit like a glove, the price was incredible. Full disclosure, I purchased this sweater right away but they have others very similar you can get your hands on! It looks adorable with a pair of comfy boyfriend jeans like these by Vince ($49.95)


The key to dressing for an Arizona winter is layering. Not only is this grey sweater dress from James Perse ($24.95) SO comfortable, it's the perfect piece to pile on a print jacket or vest like this one by Angel of the North ($14.95) and a cute bag like this versatile black and white satchel from Marc Jacobs ($245.00)



If this next outfit doesn't scream "holidays" I don't know what does. The sangria hued cozy wool blend coat ($395.00) puts the "burrrrr" in Burberry and is the perfect outerwear option for days the temps dip below 70. I paired it over a Haute Hippie forest green dress ($35.00) for an unexpected play on traditional Christmas colors. The green accent ring ($14.95) is all this outfit needs!


Mixing patterns and prints is something I love to do but I get it, it can be totally scary! My rule for mixing is go with what feels comfortable, it doesn't have to match but it will definitely make sense. I try to stick with 2 patterns and a few textures if I'm feeling extra wild. Speaking of wild, these cheetah print pants ($24.00) and the textured Tory Burch ruffle ivory top ($39.95) are the ideal match for a cropped jacket such as this one with gold thread details from Amanda Uprichard ($24.00).


I hope you have a fun and fashionable holiday season- Be sure to make it a December to remember by stopping my the My Sister's Closet location nearest to you!


Visit Mandy's blog for more here: therealhousewifeofscottsdale.com



California Stores Donated 1.5 Million Dollars in Clothing Donations to Rancho Coastal Humane Society


Posted by My Sister's Closet

RCHS

Dear Ann,

There's no way that we can express in a letter how much My Sister's Closet and Well Suited have done to help support Rancho Coastal Humane Society's programs for people and animals. 

Over the past six years, clothing donations to us from My Sister's Closet and Well Suited exceed $1.5 million and provided more than $600,000 in revenue to the shelter through our thrift shop. 

Thanks to My Sister's Closet and Well Suited, the animals in Rancho Coastal Humane Society's pet adoption program receive the best care possible. Children are learning lessons in humanity. Senior citizens and their pets stay together because of the food they receive from the RCHS Pet Food Bank. Pet Assisted Therapy dogs visit extended care facilities and struggling students with the gift of "fur therapy." Victims of domestic violence are able to escape with their lives thanks to the safety net of the RCHS Animal Safehouse Program.

All of this thanks to the generosity of My Sister's Closet and Well Suited. 

For those who have no voice, Thank You!

 

Jim Silveira, President/CEO

 



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