A couple of years ago, Kelly Thistle found herself with a Master’s in Family Therapy and two small children. Although she had trained to do counseling work, she felt it wasn’t the right time. Instead she focused on raising her kids and began taking classes at Cañada College.

“I wanted to do upcycling and repurposing, but I didn’t feel like I had the sewing skills,” Kelly recalls. She began to address this gap by taking Beginning Sewing, then Designer Techniques and finally Copying Ready-to-wear.

Kelly and friends displaying garments they upcycled in a shibori workshop in Walnut Creek. Kelly’s interest in upcycling prompted her to learn more about sewing.
Kelly modeling a dress she made, using a Liberty floral print, in one of her classes at Cañada.

As to her interest in fashion, she says it runs in her family. “My dad knew how to dress,” she remembers, noting that he sold men’s fashion accessories for many years at a store in Los Altos. She also grew up loving thrift shopping. “It’s like gambling almost,” Kelly admits. “When you know it’s valuable and you get a great deal, it’s such a thrill!” (Recently Kelly purchased a vintage sequined dress from Neiman Marcus at a Savers thrift store. She believes it’s worth at least a hundred dollars.)

Two months ago, Kelly was shopping at ThredUp‘s new brick and mortar store in Walnut Creek. (The San Jose Mercury News featured her in a story about the new shop, which you can find here.) Kelly ended up talking with the manager of the store and before long, she had a job! Kelly now works as a stylist at the Walnut Creek ThredUp. “I basically get to play dress-up with [the customers],” she jokes. But she downplays her role, which involves identifying clients, assessing their likes and needs, pulling looks from ThredUp’s inventory (including online), making appointments with customers and assisting them in assembling great-looking outfits.

Kelly shopping at the new ThredUp store in downtown Walnut Creek. (Photo: Laura A. Oda/Bay Area News Group)

ThredUp carries higher-end second-hand clothing, which helps bring Kelly’s love of thrift and “the thrill of the hunt” into her professional life. Besides styling Kelly is looking forward to facilitating workshops and perhaps setting up an ongoing “craft corner” in the store. “All of the binders of information and school supplies I have from Cañada will definitely come in handy,” she enthuses.

More about ThredUp and businesses like it here.