Meet the Epitome of #BlackGirlMagic, Melondy- ThriftxSociety
Melondy, or better known as ‘Call Mi Coco’, is a rising Philadelphian artist, poet, and a stylist. From her impeccable style to her one-of-a-kind branding methods, Melondy is taking the Philadelphia fashion scene by storm. After being tied up in a dead-end job, she followed her heart and created her ever-growing brand “Thrift Society”. We sat down and talked to her about how she got started and how she stays relevant.
KAMSI Magazine: First off, can you just tell me about yourself?
Melondy: My name is Melondy, but I go by ‘Call Mi CoCo’. I am a stylist, an artist, and a poet. I started my brand, Thrift society, about a year ago. The concept of thrift society really started when I landed my first job in corporate America. It was my first real job and I really did not want to spend all of my money on new clothes, so I started shopping at the thrift store. It started off with just work clothes, but ultimately I started to buy all of my clothes from there. I found so many unique items that I typically don’t come across in retail stores. So I started selling the different pieces that I was finding. I really got my footing when I started doing the Digital Art Gallery Tour with Kwashee. People started to see my work, and really liked it. I was going to different cities to show my work, so I started blogging about the different “thrift ventures” that I would go on when I traveled. I visited the places that people don’t often think about when it comes to thrifting like Richmond, Virginia and Baltimore, Maryland. As of now, I’m into blogging about styling, and just showing people that ‘thrifting’ is really a lifestyle. Thrift society is all about living a sustainable lifestyle. It’s just about being frugal when it comes to spending money on clothing and going out. I know for millennials, we really like looking good when we go out, but a lot of times we really don’t have the money. So, I feel like the concept of thrift society bridges that gap of being fashionable and fly while still saving money.
KM: I remember there was a point of time when thrifting was a ‘thing’. Everyone was going thrifting because it was a trend. But, certain people couldn’t execute those thrifted trends correctly, like mom jeans for example. What tips would you give to those who really want to get into thrifting and look good while they do it?
M: I would suggest trying on everything that you pick up. I think the biggest thing that a lot people do when they go thrifting is give up, because they say they can’t find anything. You really never know how something looks until you try it on. I really wear a lot of oversized things that other people might feel like they can’t pull off. I literally thrifted this like 8X sized vest, and I remember someone picking it up before me and saying, “Oh my god this is huge.” When I picked it up I said, “Oh my god, this is dope!” I actually used it for my client, Mo Marlina (A beauty vlogger from MD). You just have to look for the trends. Sweater vests and velvet is definitely in for this season. It’s always recurrent. We’re seeing a lot of the 90s styled fashion. Instead of going to H&M to look for the trends, go to the thrift store.
KM: Where in philly are the best thrift stores?
M: South street! I actually just visited a thrift store in Fishtown called Circle thrift. They had a lot of nice clothes. Actually I just found two velvet dresses that I will be selling at the Digital Art Gallery. Jinx is another good thrift store as well. They actually have two locations. One in the piazza in Northern Liberties, and the other one is in that area too. They have a lot of little knick knacks and those buttons that people are wearing now. They sell them for a dollar as we as the pins; I’m actually wearing one now. I’m a very creative person so I always find something interesting in there. If you like little trinkets, then it’s definitely for you.
KM: How did you commit yourself to styling? What made you decide that styling was definitely something that you wanted to do?
M: Well, I graduated from Temple University with a degree in Psychology. It wasn’t until after I graduated that I figured out that my path wasn’t going to be as easy as I thought it was. I kept moving from different job roles to figure out what I actually liked. I landed my final job working in corporate America as an account manager for Ron’s Staffing Agency. It was good, but it was a lot of stress and pressure. I was handling a really large account, and on top of that I was in charge of like one-hundred and fifty employees. I had to recruit for them, hire for them, and also manage the employees that were already there. I ended up having a really stressful moment where I was like breaking down, but in the mist of that I knew that I wanted more for myself. I had already started thrift society in my mind as a concept for selling clothes. I decided to quit my job because the stress was too much to handle. From there, I was like what else can I do with this? I was just selling clothes and I knew that selling could only go so far. It’s like, yeah, it’s good, but there were limitations. People don’t always have the money to go shopping, so that could be a limitation. However, with styling, I noticed there was a bigger need. Especially with the presence of social media and businesses. Your social media presence is everything. I realized that I could style people and give them cheaper options, because styling really cost a lot of money. I wanted to give them cheaper options to get styled and look good.
KM: So if someone hits you up like, “hey, I need an outfit for an event this weekend”, how do you go about it? Do you look at what they have already, or do you go shopping with them?
M: I do a couple of different things. I’ve done at home shopping appointments, where people have actually come to my home and shopped from my closet. Almost like an at-home boutique. I recently had a young man bring his girlfriend over to buy some pieces. I set it up really romantic; like flowers, and candles. I set out a rack of clothes for her to shop from. Another thing that I do is to actually go out and shop for the items that my clients want. When I styled Mo Marlina, she wanted to go for a sports-wear chic Rihanna look. I just went out to look for stuff that fit her motif, but I also kept in mind the things that I already have. I just did a shoot with Guan-Loc, and Rocky Raijy. That was a situation where they just told me the look they were looking for. Guan-Loc wanted something very simple. Something very Solange with silk sashes. It’s usually just someone telling me what they’re really looking for, but I try to do it all. I’m not someone who wants to put myself in a box. I try to provide something that everyone needs. If you tell me that you want a new wardrobe, I’ll be like, “Ard, let’s look through what you have.” I find it easier to find distinct pieces. If you have a popping piece, then you can wear it over and over again. This camo jacket that I’m wearing, I’ve worn it three times already, I’ve just recreated it to keep it fresh. I feel like thrift offers those pieces that just speak for themselves.
KM: Even though you don’t keep yourself in a box, how do you stay unique?
M: I feel like I make myself unique, because I feel like it’s a lot of thrift sellers. Those who have pop-up thrift stores, but a lot of them don’t really have a solid brand. I knew I wanted this to be a brand before I even came out. So when I first started with the Digital Art Gallery Tour, I already had my logo, I already had my name. I knew I wanted thrift society to be a movement. There are actually already two thrift societies on Instagram, but a lot of people don’t know that because I excelled so well with my branding, which made mine stand out.
My logo alone is very compelling; it speaks for what my brand is about. I also blog about the lifestyle. A lot of people who thrift, just sell the clothes, but I sell the lifestyle. For thrifting, it’s a life. For a lot of people who thrift they’re creative people. I’m an artist and a poet, so I wear my clothes to my events and a lot of people see that. It’s about looking good and showing how good you are. My ability to present myself as my brand carried me through a lot of what I do. I am an amateur at poetry, art, and styling. This my first year, but I feel like I made a lot of moves just off of the presentation of what I’ve been able to show just through a different light. I want to show that thrifting isn’t just a piece of clothing on a hanger. It’s a living, breathing culture. That’s what art and fashion is.
KM: What advice would you give to someone who wants to be a stylist, or even come up in this industry?
Q:I would say just invest in yourself. I think the biggest thing now as branding goes, is being an actual living, breathing, thing of your brand. People will buy in if they like you. It’s not really about what you’re selling, it’s about how you present yourself. People want to be your friend, so they want to buy what you’re selling. Especially as a stylist. If I take a picture on a rooftop in NY, you’re not going to care about the shirt that I’m wearing, you’re going to be like, “Damn, I wanna be like her! I wanna be her friend.” If you’re a stylist, wear what you style, don’t just come out looking any kind of way. Take Rihanna for instance. Her brand is sportswear chic, so she’s always dressed like it. She does it all the way. If you’re going to do it, do it all the way. The way you present yourself is big too. It’s all about posting now. Posting your outfits on your Instagram or insta-snap goes a long way because people look forward to seeing it.
KM: How personal do you get when it comes to your social media presence? People often say that you have to be personable if you want more followers. Is there a limit to what you put out there?
M: That’s something that I’ve been battling with this year, because I’m really an introvert. It’s weird because people always seem to gravitate towards me. I’m mostly to myself, so I really do battle with that. I don’t necessarily struggle with posting what seems appropriate, but more so trying to figure out what elements of myself that people want to see. Do people care that I like to eat healthy? I just try to just stick with a consistent story. Make sure that your story is always consistent.
KM: For me, I know I struggle with deciding if I want to show more on my personal page opposed to my magazine page. Do you find yourself battling with this?
M: For me I’m always concerned more so about what people care about. I also struggle with balancing my pages as well. There was a point of time where my personal page was really popping, but my business page wasn’t so much. I had to figure out a way to transfer my personal popularity over to my other page, because people really like what I wear so I had to find out how to display that. It’s really about lifestyle, so really just showing your own life. You just really have to keep the content good. Quality is also everything. The quality of what you’re putting out will really determine it. It’s really the way you serve it. Quality, captions, and just overall presentation.
You shouldn’t sell something that’s different than yourself. That’s where presentation comes into play. Also, just putting yourself out there in different ways. I found that because I do so many different things, that has really helped. Sometimes people will try to keep you in a box, and tell you that you have to go one linear path, but that’s not true. For me being in so many different avenues and styling, I’ve met so many different people, who have asked me to do many other things. For instance, I had performed last night and I had a girlfriend who showed up and I’m like, “You should stay!” and she’s like, “I can’t, but you can perform at my birthday tomorrow.” I’ve met her through the art circle, so it’s like doing other things can lead you to that.
KM: Last question, what’s one important thing that you think that people should know about you?
M: Oh that’s a hard question! I really want people to know that I’m an artist, painter, and a stylist. Again, people will try to box you. I keep saying that, but just overall, I just want people to know that when you invest in me... when you buy into me, you really are buying into a really great cause for millennials all around. I really want to get millennials onto a sustainable lifestyle. We waste so much money on clothing. They say that Americans buy about 80 lbs.’ of clothes each year. Even the clothes that we donate ultimately go to landfills and rot. There are a lot of things that we can be doing to combat this. Saving the environment is one of those things. But, if you don’t care about saving the world, at least care about saving your money. If you’re out here shopping at stores like H&M or Topshop, the clothes will really only get ten wears before they disintegrate. Don’t spend twenty-five plus for a shirt that you can get from the thrift for like 10 dollars. I really feel like thrifting is a good way to go for people. Just investing in the overall lifestyle of the millennial.
Interview by Chinazo Enigwe
Transcribed by Unique Ratcliff