Monday, March 26, 2012

Thrifty Kitten

I was pointed in the direction of this page on Facebook and just had to find out more.  The Thrifty Kitten sells some beautiful things for a great cause.  Have a peek on Facebook here

Huge thanks to Zoe from the AWLQ - Animal Welfare League Queensland

Can you tell me a little about yourself and how you began fundraising for the AWLQ?
I am actually an employee of the AWLQ and have been for the last 7 years. My role with AWLQ has varied over the years from Public Relations and Marketing to Community and School Education. I have a background in PR, Visual Arts, Journalism and Classroom Teaching. As with most not-for-profit organisations, you have to be willing to go with the flow and be multi-skilled. Over the years my role within the organisation has shifted and changed because our needs as an organisation and our community have changed. Three years ago we needed professionally developed Education programs to teach our community about responsible animal care; this year we need clever, creative campaigns to raise awareness about animal adoption and increase our donations so we can keep a roof over our animals' heads! I am now currently in the role of 'Campaigns Manager'.

This is pretty much why The Thrifty Kitten was born - it was me trying to think of 'out of the box' ways to maximise profits for our Op Shops (AWLQ has 7 dotted around the Gold Coast) and how to do justice to some of the amazing clothing and bits and pieces that are so kindly donated by supporters. It would break my heart to see 1950s, 60s and 70s dresses donated only to be lumped into the 'fancy dress' bins in the Op Shops and sold for 50cents! Of course that's a bargain for the keen-eyed shopper, but tragic for the lady who once upon a time owned and cherished the garment! 

The Thrifty Kitten was also about raising awareness of our organisation and the work we do among a new target market (i.e. among the 20-30 somethings). I figured that if I can lure the hipsters in with the cool clothes, then it might encourage them to investigate our organisation a little further and then hopefully they might think about adopting from us or (if they don't live in Qld), donating some $$$ to us! 
These are some of the sold items - justice has to be done for these stunning pieces!!  I love the effort that has gone into presenting these. Please note these three are items that have found there new home.

1990's Maxi Wrap-around Dress
1970's floaty gown

Why the Animal Welfare League?
I originally came to AWLQ straight from being a Grade 1 teacher and went into the organisation as an Education Officer. It was my job for a couple of years to go into classrooms and teach kiddies about how to look after their pets! I had always wanted to work for a not-for-profit animal organisation, I just happened to land my 'dream job' a bit earlier in my career than I envisaged! I really thought I would be working in the classroom for much longer before an opportunity like the one I had came my way.

AWLQ is a progressive organisation that looks at the long-term solutions to pet overpopulation, neglect and irresponsible pet management, whilst also implementing short-term solutions more effectively and humanely than any other comparable welfare organisation. AWLQ doesn't have it easy, being the type of shelter that must take all animals in need; not just the ones that are cute, pretty and rehomable (like those shelters who promote themselves as "No Kill" shelters). That means that no matter how hard we try to save every animal and give every one a second chance, there will always be that odd cat or dog that just slips through the cracks - a victim of poor socialisation and/or training or neglect that we just don't have the resources to rehabilitate. Some cats and dogs just can't be saved and this is always a hard thing to accept as a shelter worker (and an organisation as a whole).

Where do your items come from?
All the items you see on The Thrifty Kitten site are donated by supporters of the AWLQ. Most of our donated goods end up in our Op Shops, however the occasional special item is pulled out and handed to me to put up on Thrifty.

Some items currently for sale on the Facebook page

1960's Green Glass Tea Cups & Saucers
1970's Long Floral Dress

What catches your eye when it comes to fundraising on your page?
I have a pretty keen eye for vintage and retro, and whilst always keeping an eye out for items to buy for my own personal vintage dress collection, I am also keeping an eye out for things to sell on Thrifty. I try to ensure quality over quantity when it comes to Thrifty; because I am a vintage wearer and collector myself, there is never usually anything that goes up there that I wouldn't love to have myself!! I also like to keep an eye out for things especially that look as though they have a story behind them, things that are hand-made and things that are in particularly good condition for their age.

I also keep an eye out for those items that typify the era in which they were originally worn. For example, we recently had a donation of a whole bag of genuine 80s stuff (none of this reproduction stuff - yuck!). In this bag were a whole bunch of aerobics bodysuits in classic fluro 80s prints - you know the kind that were worn over the top of fluro nylon bike pants and that had the g-string style bum at the back (to show off a lady's nicely toned "Reebox Pump" buns of steel!!). These were just such a great find because they just speak EIGHTIES so loudly and I think everyone my age can remember their mums heading off to their aerobics class in this kind of get up! 

Bit like this probably for those who are too young to know- please note this video will make you laugh lots!!

"No double chin for us!!"

Have you had any favourites that stand out, any items you didn't really want to part with?

All of them!!! I know every item on the page like it's my baby! I get so attached to them all and see something beautiful in all of the pieces (even the 80s stuff, which I am not all that keen on, only because I actually remember wearing things like that IN the ACTUAL 80s!). One story I would like to share with you though is the donation of clothes that we had come in early last year. It was from a lady whose 92 year-old mother had just passed away. She donated her entire dress collection to us and when the bags came in the Op Shops were just going to sell them as fancy dress. Luckily the Retail  manager drew my attention to the bags of dresses and asked if any of it would be appropriate for my new website. I took a look and WHOA!!!! It was filled with all these hand-made 1960s - 70s gowns, in perfect condition!! They reeked of campher (which was a good thing because it kept the moths out!), but other than that most of them were in mint condition. There were also hats and day dresses as well..... I was in heaven! It was clear that this lady prized her dress collection, so I wanted to do these dresses justice.

I have to admit I was tempted to make a sizable donation in order to keep all those dresses for myself, but in the end I resisted! All the dresses have now been sold (with the exception of the beautiful 'cinderella gown' ,  the very bright pink 'Bridesmaids' gown, and the blue gown with the silver brocade trim and the butterfly-wing sleeves, which are all still available on the site and are now only $10 each!!). I feel very happy that all these pieces have found new loving homes and I'm sure their original owner would be chuffed as well!

1970's bridesmaids gown
1970's Gown
Pure 80's Rectange Dress

What do you enjoy most about fundraising this way?
It means I can combine a personal passion of mine (vintage dresses!) with doing something positive for my chosen charity (which also happens to be my employer!). Most of the time I spend on Thrifty is done in my own time and not in work hours, so it's not really part of my job - I see it more as a 'passion project' that do as a volunteer. The other people that help me (such as Fleur, our BEAUTIFUL Thrifty Kitten model and an AWLQ employee) also volunteer their own time to make the site a success. We recently had a vintage market day here at our Gold Coast Rehoming Centre and made almost $3000 on the day! It was an amazing result and we couldn't have done it without 1) all the wonderful people who donate their goods to us and 2) all the wonderful people who volunteered their time on the day to help me out setting up, selling and packing up afterwards!! It's nice to see the best side of people and also to see special pieces of much-loved clothing go off to new homes! It's almost as heart-warming as when one of our cats or dogs goes off to a new home!

Zoe and Dante - looking a bit festive!

Huge thanks to Zoe, the more people I get in touch with on this blog the more I hear about the extra mile people go for others.

Please check out the AWLQ website here -

Please also head over to the Facebook page and like the Thrifty Kitten - more coming soon I've been told -


  1. A great interview, very inspiring!

  2. It's fantastic seeing people able to mix their passions with fundraising. The fact that it's done in their own time is amazing too!

  3. I have to add my congratulations on this one. It's an awesome interview! And I'll be seeing you on Saturday! :)

  4. Thanks Laura, the questions were the easy part it's the answers that are great on this!