Dominique Kirven began thrifting with her mother and grandmother when she was 10 years old, only slowing down as she began working for big-box stores. Kirven left that job, frustrated with "how corrupt the industry is" and the unsustainability of fast fashion, shifting her shopping to smaller, used retailers.
And she started shopping like crazy—so much so that her friends started seeing Kirven's closet as a boutique and would frequently come over to swap clothes with her, sometimes offering to buy pieces off of her.
"What started Thrifted Feels was just the momentum of me having too many, so many perfect clothes and accessories and shoes and bags," Kirven said. "Eventually I started doing (Instagram) story sales, just as a hobby, and I started making really good money."
Feeling burnt out from her day job while running a boutique out of her apartment, Kirven quit her job once again for the sake of fashion. She now runs Thifted Feels ATX, her sustainable fashion boutique, full time.
"I think 2020 was just one of those moments for me where I was just like, I'm going to be 30 in a year, I don't want to be clocking in and clocking out," Kirven said. "(It was) well worth the risk of like letting go of my 401k and my benefits."
Kirven still frequently sells clothes on Instagram stories but has expanded to a brick and mortar at Gather & Co, the self-described "love child" of two companies, Thrifted Feels and To The Moon, in the Hill Country Galleria.
Now that she is established, Kirven wants to grow into and help the community that lifted her up. Gather & Co promotes local creatives and sustainability; Kirven sources from "mom and pop shops" and other Black-owned businesses around the state. She is transitioning her business to a nonprofit license so she can partner with local programs like LifeWorks, a non-profit helping young people conquer homelessness.
"I made this money despite me showing my old 'grandma' self—this is exactly where I want to be and also dig in deeper into my community, that makes sense to me," Kirven said. "That's my manifestation."
So what do you get when you shop at Thrifted Feels ATX? According to Kirven, you're getting her signature "earthy" aesthetic and a memorable shopping experience. Gone are the days of crowded racks and stuffy aisles because everything inside has already been curated when you walk in.
If you can't make it in person, you can still buy her picks on shopthriftedfeels.com and @thriftedfeels on Instagram.
"You would not tell that it was a thrift store walking into it," Kirven said. "Not only does it look good but it's affordable. You come to my shop, you spend $100 and you kind of always have at least a decent amount of stuff. I think that's what sets me apart, I'm not really doing it for capitalism, I'm doing it for my community."
It's Small Business Week, read about other local businesses making an impact here.
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By Cecilia Lenzen
Republican Gov. Greg Abbott’s lead over Democratic challenger Beto O’Rourke narrowed to 6 points last month, according to a poll conducted by the Texas Politics Project at the University of Texas at Austin. That’s a smaller gap than when Republican George W. Bush ousted Democrat Ann Richards in 1994 with a 7.6-point win.
Abbott’s unfavorability ratings are also the highest they’ve ever been at 44%, according to the poll, which was conducted after the deadliest school shooting in state history and almost entirely before the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the constitutional right to an abortion.
Jim Henson, director of the Texas Politics Project, said the mass shooting in Uvalde and scrutiny over how it was handled could have contributed to Abbott’s increased unfavorability, but it’s hard to say how much exactly.
The political poll did not include specific questions related to the shooting in Uvalde, but it did ask participants to rate Abbott’s performance on handling gun violence. About 36% of participants said they approve of how the governor has handled this issue, while 45% said they disapprove.
The mass shooting in Uvalde and the overturning of Roe v. Wade have laid the groundwork for a contentious final four months in the race to lead the state. While O’Rourke works to harness the anti-incumbent energy spurred by the seismic events of the past few months, Abbott is banking on a general election centered on stronger issues for him: the economy and the border.
Mounting expectations over how the Supreme Court would rule on abortion access could be another factor that contributed to Abbott’s weakened ratings, Henson said. Although the poll ended the same day Roe v. Wade was overturned, it included questions about abortion access that show how voters feel regarding the issue. About 36% of participants said they approve of how Abbott has handled policies related to abortion access, and 46% said they disapprove.
Now that Roe v. Wade has been overturned and Texas is poised to completely outlaw abortion access, it will likely be a pivotal topic in the upcoming months, Henson said.
“If we look back at the half dozen times we’ve asked the standard abortion questions since 2014, no more than a quarter of Republicans have ever said that by law abortion should never be permitted,” he said.
Voters will see that reality reflected in how Abbott and O’Rourke discuss abortion access in the upcoming months, he said.
“In terms of that affecting the election, we can expect Democratic candidates to talk about this a lot, and we can expect Republican candidates to not want to talk about it very much,” Henson said.
Despite the ratings, Abbott carries most of the advantages in the race: His campaign is well funded for a midterm election that is expected to favor Republicans across the country. The governor’s allies argue that voters are more worried about skyrocketing inflation and illegal immigration — and that O’Rourke cannot separate himself from President Joe Biden, who is very unpopular in Texas.
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Add drastically higher development fees onto your list of things that make buying a house in Austin so expensive.
A Texas A&M University Real Estate Research Center study found that Austin’s per-unit fees on new development were 187% higher than Dallas, Houston, Fort Worth and San Antonio. The suburbs aren’t much cheaper as per-unit development fees in Austin are still 127% higher.
According to ABoR CEO Emily Chenevert, high development fees charged by the city are cause for concern around solving the city’s ongoing housing crisis.
“This report confirms what those in the real estate community have known for a long time,” Chenevert said. “Development fees are drastically higher in Austin than most other cities in Central Texas and major metro areas in Texas. This is a huge barrier to building homes and a significant concern considering we are in a housing supply crisis across the region.”
A closer look
The report found that in the Austin-Round Rock metro a suburban unit was charged 80.4% or about $8,000 more than the other five largest metros in Texas. Similarly, infill units—new housing in already developed areas—cost 186.8% more in Austin than on average for Texas.
Those numbers make up 3.4% of the 2021 median housing price of $536,331 per suburban unit, or 7.7% per infill development unit.
What does that mean for buyers?
Steep fees drive up the cost for residents and can have a big impact on first-time buyers. The average Austinite earning the median household income in 2019—$54,871—would be able to afford a $204,556 home loan, of which development fees would make up about 20%, according to the study.
The Austin-Round Rock median house price hasn’t been $205,000 since February 2013, which is less than half of the median price in 2021. Austin-area housing has increased 22%, about $100,000, since the study was conducted.
“These findings, although disconcerting, are unsurprising,” Home Builders Association of Greater Austin CEO Taylor Jackson said. “We need to course correct on how the city of Austin handles home building and time is of the essence.”
Should renters be concerned?
Managing editor for Rent.com Brian Carberry said the renter market tends to follow the housing market, albeit on a few months' delay. Carberry said not only did Austin have less apartment inventory in May 2022 than it did in May 2021, but most new complexes are being built in high-demand areas, meaning people are still being priced out.
“A lot of that is just due to there's just so much demand for apartments and the housing market does play into that a little bit because people are being priced out,” Carberry said. “Your younger millennials, older Gen Z looking for their first homes are in a position where they're unable to afford something because the price has gone up so high and now mortgage rates are so high, it's just not a sustainable option for them right now.”
Is there a solution?
In the study, the Austin Board of Realtors and the Home Builders Association of Greater Austin included joint recommendations for local policymakers:
- Increase transparency in development fees, as a lack of information limits the ability to understand the full impact of the fees.
- Implement development process improvements, including reviewing fee structure, setting goals for housing approval and adopting successful models from similarly-sized cities.
- Right-size development fees, which will become critical as Austin’s urban population grows and infill development increases.
“The National Association of Home Builders 2022 Priced Out Index reports that for every $1,000 increase in the price of a home, whether it be from market forces or development fees, 791 households are priced out of the Austin-Round Rock MSA,” Jackson said. “We urge Austin’s leadership to act and act now or we risk becoming a wholly unaffordable city to build or buy a home in.”