How This Stay-at-Home Mom Left the Fashion Industry to Start Her Own Thrift Shop
Let’s start by telling us your name and a little about what you do.
Hi I’m Jae White and I am the owner of Issa Pop Up: A Bomb Muva’s Thrift Shop.
Wow that’s amazing. What is it like being the owner of Issa Pop Up and also being a stay at home mom?
It’s fun because you’re selling your closet…I’ve worked for major designers; I’ve worked for Zac Posen I was his executive assistant for a while. I was his intern first and then I became his executive assistant. I later transferred to the office administrator because the role was too much for me…too much time! I was young. Most people would want to take that [role] and run with it because you’re [working] under the designer himself. But I didn’t see that. It was too much [for me]. I also worked for ASOS.com. I was the executive assistant to the Senior VP there. I was there for 2 years. So my thrift shop is basically Zac Posen and mainly ASOS. Lots of stuff to get rid of! Plus I have a child, he’s one and a half his name is Lenox, and I can’t fit any of those things. I’m no longer sample size. After having a baby I cant fit anything – and theyr’e cute! A lot of things I didn’t wear at all. They were given to me, “Jae you want to take anything before we send it back to London?” Of course I want to take it! So that’s what A Bomb Muva’s Thrift Shop is. It actually started from when I moved – I was living in a one-bedroom apartment and I moved to a two-bedroom. All the stuff from my one-bedroom is [now] in my son’s bedroom. So it was like, I need space and he needs his room; how do I get rid of all these clothes?! I actually coordinated with this other girl who had a pop-up loft shop and we did one in Newark. Then we kind of [thought] “let’s go on the road with this.” And then we got so many requests, like, come to Dallas, come to Florida, and come to Philly! Philly was the closest to me. I went to Philly two and a half weeks ago. And that was great too!
They say out of necessity is the mother of invention. You needed space and you found a way to monetize it! How do you keep motivated?
I’m used to being in a creative atmosphere and I kind of lost that after leaving ASOS. And then becoming a mom seven months after. So I was in limbo and not understanding what I wanted to do the whole summer of him first being born. [I thought] I don’t want to go back to the fashion industry; I don’t want to work for anyone else. I think every woman; every mom goes through that at one point in her life. And this opportunity came like hey, why don’t you sell these things? I actually thought about taking my things to Buffalo Exchange and what happened was my car messed up the day I was supposed to take everything to buffalo exchange. I just never took it. This was last September. And then months later in April, I saw this girl that I follow post that she was doing a loft thrift shop with another girl. The neat freak that I am, the organizer that I am and, [having been] in an atmosphere of designers and merchandisers, I actually set up a whole thing. I had everything labeled and priced. I had rolling racks, I had a display and a flower wall [that] draws attention; everyone loves a prop to take pictures in front of. With the first pop up, honestly, I did not expect all those people to show up. They were just followers, I don’t know you, (laughs) and they also asked for my son, “where’s Lenox?” He’s not here, are you going to buy something? It’s really funny because they feel like they know you. But having the pop up gave me that spark and a creative push to get back into what I used to do. Owning it myself.
What do you feel most accomplished for in your life right now?
Being a mom. I didn’t see myself being a mom. And here I am with this amazing child! He reminds me every day, “Hey Jae you went through those things to get me. I made you stronger.” I started to have him natural but unfortunately his heart rate dropped. I had to have a cesarean. I did not want to have a cesarean. But I had no choice. And he’s here and he’s healthy. So my biggest accomplishment is being a mom and doing it pretty damn well. And I’m a single mom at that; a bomb single mother, because I am doing it by myself. I honestly don’t have any guidance around me. Yea his dad helps here and there but he lives out of state. I’m not saying being a single mom should be rough, of course I have my moments, but I’m pretty good at doing this.
What would you say is your greatest struggle?
My greatest struggle is being creative. I come from a creative background everyone in my family [has] a hustle. My aunt is an event planner. Once upon a time I [wanted] to do events, I wanted to be a florist, etc. My struggle isn’t with inspiration but just staying focused on [one thing], right now I’m into this pop up. Hopefully this will be a cash flow for a very long time and maybe I can open a storefront. I’m a procrastinator – this could’ve been happened. This could’ve happened in 2014 but I’m just now doing it. Another struggle is trying not to be so nonchalant about things. [I am passive about things]. It hurts me in relationships. It comes off as being cold. My friends call me an ice queen…they call me Elsa.
Where do you think that stems from?
Daddy issues. My dad and I now have a better relationship because of my son. But that’s where it stems from.
What would you say has been your most embarrassing moment?
Oh I have a good one! [I was] working at Zac Posen, [during] the debut of the resort collection to Vogue and Anna Wintour was coming to the office. So we had to come in the office at 5am because she was [arriving] at 7am. When she came [in] she walked past me and I said, “she has a hole in her coat.” She had a hole in her Burberry! And I said it loud. I didn’t mean to. She didn’t turn around, one of her assistants [did]. And then later I got scolded. I was nervous! But she’s supposed to be this “fashion god” and you got a hole in your coat. (laughs) Maybe it was vintage, maybe a moth got to it. That was embarrassing.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
I hope that I am married or in a stable relationship; that my career is thriving, with the thrift shop or something else. Being an even better mom than what I am. I don’t want to me a mom blog or anything like that but he is everything to me. Hopefully getting paid!
How would you describe your personal style?
My sense of style is…I like shapes. [The outfit I wore today], my top had a lot of volume and color and my pants were basic and ripped, then I had fun shoes on. I feel like I’m pretty chic. I could’ve done without the top, but I wanted to be a little extra. I do know what I like, and it’s not what everyone likes.
What are your three must have items?
A boyfriend jean, a simple strap heel (no round toe) and, not going to lie, the Target v-neck t-shirts; I buy them in L so they can have a deep v-neck. ...And an amazing jacket! My coat game is amazing. I feel like I have to get a new coat every year.
By: Armelis D'Orville