MINNEAPOLIS — Phuong O'Neil is on a mission to fight fast fashion. She owns a consignment boutique, Handpicked.
"Handpicked is passionate about sustainability. To fight fast fashion, we promote buying pre-loved and second-hand clothing and accessories," O'Neil said. "The fashion industry produces 10% of all humanity's carbon emissions and is the second largest user of the world's water supply and pollutes the oceans with micro-plastics and textile waste. That is more than airplanes trains and ships.
O'Neil, who works full-time for the Knight Foundation, believes the process of making one garment is detrimental to the environment.
To help solve the problem, she encourages people to shop second hand or purchase one quality item instead of multiple inexpensive garments.
Fast Fashion is essentially inexpensive clothing made in bulk.
"We wanted to create a fun place for you to shop consignment and second hand and not think twice about it," she said. "You are coming in and saving the environment at the same time."
The boutique offers new, used, and vintage women's fashions, home decor, and refurbished furniture. We partner with many local artist and crafters to provide an array of handmade goods. Including everything from jewelry to clothing to designer purses.
O'Neil started helping the environment when she was five.
"I grew up not rich. Like poor. I am a Vietnamese immigrant. We didn't have a ton of money. We thrifted because we needed clothes. That was the cheapest option.," she said. "We never wanted to say as a child, 'Oh, this is second hand.' It was hush. When putting Handpicked together I wanted to create an environment where if you have to thrift you don't feel bad about it."
She and her business partner are creating a space where they "are not preaching" but encouraging a conversation and shopping experience around sustainability.