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Aberdeen mum sets up sustainable swap shop for children’s clothes

Katie Wade has set up her own children's swap shop.
Katie Wade has set up her own children's swap shop.

An Aberdeen mum is taking on the fast fashion industry by making kids clothes more sustainable one swap at a time.

Katie Wade, from Bridge of Don, decided to open up her own swap shop to help parents update their children’s wardrobes in a more environmentally friendly way.

The mum-of-two explained that she has always been conscious of the amount of clothes her children have.

She said: “I’ve always been thinking ‘we need to do something with these clothes’ and I have a boy and a girl so I have mountains and mountains of clothes. I just thought ‘why can we not just swap?’

“There’s so many clothes here and they aren’t getting used to their full potential.”

Miss Wade believes that lockdown gave people the chance to sort through their wardrobes, leading to charity shops being inundated with donations. She also noticed many mums taking to social media asking which charities would take kids clothes.

Last year, the mum collected donations for the Aberdeen Neonatal Unit during lockdown and was surprised by the amount of generous people in the north-east and the amount of clothes they had.

She said: “I read somewhere that when you put items to a charity shop only three out of 10 go on the rails in the shop, the others get sent abroad to like Africa or get shredded for furniture. Obviously charity shops don’t have enough room and they don’t have enough staff and then I thought ‘I need to do something, this is not sustainable, we can’t be like this’.

“From being born to age two, kids go through seven different sizes of clothes, how mad is that? It’s just crazy.”

Giving clothes a new lease of life

Miss Wade, who works part-time in beauty, asked friends from her antenatal group what they thought about a swap shop for children’s clothes and they all wanted to try it.

Many donated clothes to get her started and she sorted through the items before opening a Facebook page called Wee One’s Wardrobe.

Clothing bundles in the swap shop. Supplied by Katie Wade.

Every item of clothing gets checked and washed by Miss Wade and she then lists them on her page. There is a small charge per item and people comment on the picture to reserve for a swap.

The 34-year-old hosts a ‘swap drop’ once a week, where people can go to her house in Bridge of Don and drop off their 15 items at the doorstep. She will then check over the items before emailing the person to confirm they have 15 swaps to chose from her page.

They then pick their items and she will send them a list with the prices and wrap and bag up the chosen pieces of clothes.

The items packaged up, ready to be used again. Supplied by Katie Wade.

She explained: “You can swap genders, you can swap seasons, swap different ages. People have come in because they’ve had a little boy and he’s growing so they want bigger boy stuff, or they’ve had a boy and they want to swap his stuff because they’re away to have a girl.

“It just means these 15 clothes are getting a new lease of life, they’re like a new item for somebody who hasn’t had them before.”

‘I never expected it to pick up like this’

After starting the swap shop over four weeks ago, Miss Wade explained that it was last week when she noticed interest really hot up. She had 10 people drop off their items which meant she had 150 pieces of clothes to check over the weekend.

She said: “You should see my garage, it’s unreal, it’s all in my garage much to my partner’s dislike because he can’t get to his tools or anything.”

Her mum even helps with the many items dropped off at her house by sorting them out into ages and categories.

Now, Miss Wade is planning more ideas for Wee One’s Wardrobe, such as seasonal bundles where people take 15 items picked out for summer or winter.

She is also thinking about renting more exclusive things like party-wear.

“You get a gift that’s a Ted Baker dress, your daughter wears it once for a party and then it doesn’t fit her, it’s such a shame,” she explained.

Renting an outfit from Wee One’s Wardrobe means the child can wear something for their party but the parents can return it and are not left with it taking up valuable space.

She added: “Now my thinking is ‘oh Lord, I need to move out of my garage’ I never expected it to pick up like this, in the last four weeks its just gone crazy.”

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