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Student Entrepreneur Utilizes Online Thrift Store for Philanthropy

By Asia Harden and Sierra Whitten
Hottytoddy.com interns
acharde1@go.olemiss.edu; sbwhitte@go.olemiss.edu

With the rise of sustainable fashion, Oxford native and Ole Miss student Ashley Mills utilized her passion for thrifting to create an online resale business called Miracle Thrift.

“I have always loved to thrift and it’s so much fun to be able to share the items I find with others,” Mills said.

Founded in 2018, Miracle Thrift is an Instagram-based thrifting business that specializes in the resale of trendy women’s clothing. The clothing pieces are sold in an auction where Mills posts an item at an affordable price and opens the comments to a friendly bidding war. After 24 hours, the item is sold to the highest bidder.

Ole Miss student Ashley Mills started Miracle Thrift in 2018, which specializes in the resale of trendy women’s clothes. Photo submitted.

“Social media has become the most influential way to start a business in today’s day, so it just made sense to make that my platform,” Mills said. “It honestly surprised me how many followers I gained in such a short amount of time and still amazes me at how much it has grown since then.”

A big part of her business is sharing her profits through philanthropy. In 2019, her first project was RebelThon, a 24-hour dance marathon that benefits Blair E. Batson Children’s Hospital in Jackson. Now, a percentage of her proceeds continue to aid mission work.

“I originally began Miracle Thrift to make a little extra money, but also to raise money for RebelThon,” Mills said. “I ended up raising about $1,500 and the majority of that was because of Miracle Thrift.”

One of Miracle Thrift’s models showcases an orange skirt. Photo via Instagram.

Aside from fundraising and donating efforts, Mills is proud to know that her upcycling business practice of transforming discarded clothing into stylish new pieces is also helping the environment by giving customers a sustainable way to shop.

“The sustainability part is a huge bonus that I do not think a lot of people realize,” said Miracle Thrift Customer and Poshmark Ambassador Helen Colquett. “Clothes take up way too much space in landfills, and it’s because people just want to keep up with trends and are quick to toss perfectly good clothes.”

In lieu of keeping wasted clothing out of landfills and reducing the amount of clothing produced through harmful manufacturing processes, Mills finds much of her inventory in local thrift shops like Holding Hands Resale Shop and the Salvation Army.

“Both of these organizations give back to the community in so many different ways and are dedicated to helping others which is the primary reason I choose these thrift stores over others,” Mills said.

Mills’ keen eye for picking out the most fashionable pieces for her customers has helped the Miracle Thrift gain over 1,000 followers and secure hundreds of sales over the years.

A vast majority of Miracle Thrift’s customers are located in Oxford, but from time to time the business catches the attention of out of state bidders.

“I’ll have someone from Montana or New York, and it’s just so cool to see that someone from that far away found my page,” said Mills.

For Miracle Thrift customers, the online shop is reliable and consistent in frequent postings, quality clothing and easy-to-follow rules.

“I really like her consistency,” Colquett said. “The process is super easy… I have never had a problem interacting with posts. She also does a really good job on picking out different sizes and different types of clothes. It is honestly a fun account to follow and I always get excited when she has a new haul posted.”

Besides having a passion for your project, Mills believes that time management is a key component to success.

Mills admits that finding the time to run a business while being a full-time college student with another part-time job definitely gets hard at times, but the reward of giving back makes it all worth it.

“Running Miracle Thrift has definitely helped me to see the good that can come out of giving,” Mills said. “Yes, it is great to earn a little extra money when it’s needed, but it is also so important to give to others not expecting anything in return. I always want to strive to see others’ needs and meet them where they’re at to see how I can help. Miracle Thrift has helped me to do that.”

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