West Side Story

From a passion to a profession

Jada ‘22 and Olivia Dachtler ’19 began their business, Iowa City Thrifts, just one month ago, and the Instagram-based store is already seeing success.

Some students take up sports. Others, an instrument or art classes. When it comes to Jada ’22 and Olivia Dachtler ’19, however, their free hours are devoted to something more entrepreneurial: opening their own online store.

Jada and Olivia started their business, Iowa City Thrifts, in early November. Their Instagram page @ic.thrifts sells name-brand thrifted clothing and was founded on a basic principle: deliver designer, quality pieces at bargain prices.

“We try to look for pieces that are either unique or name brand,” Olivia said. “We look for the kind of stuff you could find at Urban Outfitters for $100 that we can give to people for $20.”

The desire to start their own business stemmed from the sisters’ passion for discount shopping and aptitude for marketing. Olivia, an aspiring businesswoman, hoped the page would provide her with valuable management and advertising experience.

We thought that this was something we could really make a profit out of and we both just really enjoy it.”

— Olivia Dachtler '19

“I’m hoping to major in marketing and management when I’m in college and I was like, ‘I want to have experience with this,’” Olivia said. “Thrifting is also a big trend now and some people don’t like to go out and spend three hours looking for an item. We thought that this was something we could really make a profit out of and we both just really enjoy it.”

Both sisters attribute some of their business savvy and motivation to start Iowa City Thrifts to their involvement with West’s Business Professionals of America (BPA) program. The growing club teaches students financial and administrative problem solving through competitions known as the Workplace Skills Assessment Program.

“I think being in BPA gives you really valuable experiences and teaches you a lot about running a business,” Jada said.

“For our events we’re constantly thinking, ‘Oh, what would we do if we were put in this position? How can we apply the topics in BPA to what we’re doing with our business to make it better?’” Olivia said.

 

Infographic by Alex Carlon

The process of posting an item on the business’ Instagram is more complex than simply photographing a shirt and posting it. The girls allot four hours for their shopping trips alone, hitting as many as four stores to find the highest quality pieces available. Then, the original price, store and a description of each new piece is entered into a spreadsheet. The girls reference this when seeing what trends are being bought most frequently. Before they can post on Instagram, the clothing has to be photographed and priced.

“We photograph and edit all [the clothing] the same way because that’s a principle that we both really value,” Olivia said. “Everything has to look fresh and cohesive.”

The page was an immediate hit among the Dachtlers’ friends and classmates and also garnered attention from members of the community and West graduates.

In order to promote the page, the sisters initially used their personal Instagram accounts.

“Olivia and I both started by posting about the account on our Instagram stories to get followers which made our follower count go up really quickly,” Jada said.

Olivia and Jada also made sure to take advantage of the holiday season to draw shoppers to their page, mimicking the tactics of bigger retailers and hosting sales on Black Friday.

 

Aditi Borde
The sisters created an Instagram page to sell their thrifted clothing.

 

While Olivia’s graduation may complicate the logistics of Iowa City Thrifts, the sisters have no intention of shutting the business down when she goes off to college. In fact, they hope to continue expanding the business in the coming years.

“We envision doing the business for quite a while, and we’ve already talked about what we’re going to do when Olivia goes to college,” Jada said. “We’re thinking about running it from both wherever she goes as well as out of Iowa City.”

For the time being,  the girls are focused on expanding their business locally.

“In the short term our biggest goal right now is just to gain a bigger audience and continue finding those one of a kind pieces,” Olivia said.

Although there are challenges to running a business with your sister, for the Dachtler’s the positives generally outweigh the negatives. Despite the occasional pricing-related dispute, being co-owners of a store has helped the sisters to form a greater bond.

“Running the page has definitely made us a lot closer. It makes us have to work through our arguments instead of storming away into our rooms,” Olivia said. “In all seriousness, it’s great to have a business partner whose room is up the stairs.”

 

 
 
 
 
 
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sweater from italy 🤩 size m $15 super comfy

A post shared by ✰✰ iowa city thrifts ✰✰ (@ic.thrifts) on

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About the Contributors
Alex Carlon, Reporter

Alex Carlon is a sophomore at West High and a first-time reporter for the web publication. When she's not writing, she enjoys playing in the band, taking...

Aditi Borde, Photographer

Aditi Borde is a sophomore at West High. She is a photographer, and this is her first year on staff. In her free time, Aditi enjoys biking, volunteering...

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