People and Ideas

College student from Dumaguete City shares how she built her online thrift shop from scratch

Juggling academics and running a business is possible, as proven by Thrift For Keeps PH’s owner Alexa Jane Guinit

By: , - February 18, 2023

Starting a successful business knows no age—just ask college student Alexa Jane Guinit, who already runs a denim thrift shop of her own.

Born in Cebu and currently based in Dumaguete City, Alexa is the curator behind the widely-loved online shop Thrift For Keeps PH. With 20.8k Instagram followers as of writing, there is no doubt that her shop has gained a stable market for its thrift collections of high-quality denim, mom jeans, and baggy jeans since it was launched in July 2020. 

Growing her self-owned biz          

“I source my products from the physical thrift stores in Dumaguete. I also do outsourcing from other cities via live selling but not much because it’s hard to curate pieces if you don’t actually see them in person,” said Alexa. 

She also goes thrift shopping when she returns to Cebu—where she studied from 1st to 12th grade—and brings the denim jeans she curated back to Dumaguete. “Last summer of 2021, I went home to Cebu and I actually released a few collections there,” said Alexa. 

Alexa Jane Guinit, owner and founder of Thrift For Keeps PH.

Her dedication and hard work through the years paid off because upon reaching its second anniversary, Thrift For Keeps PH already achieved an outstanding milestone of releasing approximately 3,500 denim jeans that Alexa carefully curated. 

When looking for new additions to her online shop, she considers three things to ensure high-quality yet affordable products for her buyers: the fit, the material, and the brand. “The overall fit of the jeans is my top priority in curating,” she shared. While Alexa considers hard denim as the best quality material, she also finds stretchy and soft denim good to curate. She also shared that top brands from the US and Japan can guarantee high-quality denim.

Aside from sourcing her products, managing the shop’s finances is another aspect of the job that Alexa does on her own. “I am financing the business alone but I get help from my cousins in managing the business as a whole. They help me in sorting, washing the pants, and packing.”

“My mom single-handedly supported us financially. I know how hard she works abroad for us. As soon as I studied college, I wanted to earn and finance my own needs so I started decluttering my stuff and selling it online.”

How Thrift For Keeps was born

Alexa’s motivation for running her own business is personal and close to her heart. “My mom single-handedly supported us financially. I know how hard she works abroad for us. As soon as I studied college, I wanted to earn and finance my own needs so I started decluttering my stuff and selling it online. However, it was when the quarantine came that I saw an opportunity to actually start a more stable business capable of growing.” 

“As a business student, I know how risky and tricky starting a business is. At that time, I was afraid to step out of my comfort zone [and] take the risk and responsibility of starting my own business,” said Alexa. However, her drive for growth and exploring outside her safe zone was much greater than the things she feared to do and doubted herself. “I realized I should not be afraid of failures. I should be afraid of not making progress at all.”

But getting rid of her fear and self-doubt wasn’t the last of her business roadblocks. “Despite convincing myself that I should start my own business, I had no concrete plan on how and when to start my business. I just knew in myself that I have to start at some point,” said Alexa. During her freshman year in college, she also had difficulties adjusting to her business course that made starting a business her least priority. 

During the second semester, she thought of shifting to another course to give her more time to start her own business—and then the COVID-19 pandemic happened. “I stayed home for weeks and did not have anything to do at all. As odd as it is to think but I saw an open opportunity for me during the quarantine. I took the time to plan my business.”

Despite the newfound opportunity, Alexa still didn’t have a business idea—until one day in July 2020, while she was running errands and passed by a thrift store selling their items at low prices. Alexa said that seeing very few people inside the thrift store made her want to check if she could buy some clothes “for herself.”

“However, I ended up buying 10 denim jeans for myself [with] almost the same size from the 500 pesos my mom gave me for allowance. It was an impulsive buy. I went home and started regretting my purchase because I know I’m not gonna wear them all anytime soon. That’s when I decided to sell them online,” she shared.

That collection was Alexa’s first, and it sold out after approximately three days. “From then on, I took one step at a time in building Thrift For Keeps PH,” she said. “I did not expect it to grow as big as it is at present but I am always thankful. Since July 2020, I have passionately worked hard in releasing collections weekly and I made sure to be grateful for God’s blessings and the people’s support of my business.”

Challenges, goals, and advice

Even if her young age did not faze her from launching her own business, there were still other challenges that Alexa had to face before Thrift For Keeps PH reached the success it now enjoys. 

“There are a lot, but here are three tough challenges I have encountered: difficulty in curating denim jeans to complete a collection, Instagram’s terrible algorithm that limits my reach, and difficulty in time management [specifically] juggling my acads, my business, and my organizational work all at once,” she shared. “I know I will continuously encounter these challenges but I’ll make sure that I’ll gracefully get through it all with the help and support of God and my loved ones.”

Moving forward, Alexa has two long-term goals for her business: “to put up a physical thrift store somewhere around Dumaguete City which primarily sells thrifted denim clothing and to start my own clothing line which primarily sells upcycled clothes.” Although she’s not yet certain when she can achieve these, Alexa said that she’s keeping her own pace and trusting God’s timing.

Her advice to others—including the young people like her—who wants to launch a new business? “In starting your own business, I can advise you to consider three things: risk what you can lose, sell what you can use, and sell what you want to buy. These things kept my business going and growing. Business is a risk in itself and it is the duty of an entrepreneur to make ways to mitigate these risks and turn them into opportunities.”


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