Clothes that created a community

Let me tell you about my intense hobby

I never thought I’d have an unpaid job, but I do. I’m a moderator at @SellTradeSlowFashion on Instagram, a community I founded with @BrandiKoz in May 2018. Though I’ve been a successful freelancer for years and have an LLC, in many ways @SellTradeSlowFashion is my first business. 

Sell Trade Slow Fashion is a non-profit labor of love

To bring STSF to life, I had to recruit a partner, build a team, and promote our site. We had to create guidelines and policy, establish an editorial calendar and manage a team of four other moderators. @SellTradeSlowFashion is a non-profit labor of love that on the surface is a BST (Buy, Sell, Trade) account, but functions as a community hub to discuss slow fashion community issues. We host weekly QAs and discussions, give the community a place to conduct trades and maintain a curated list of ethical brands that live up to the highest standards of sustainable manufacturing. We have even successfully “taken over” another resale community whose owners gifted us the visual assets for that account. 

Sell Trade Slow Fashion requires me to think like an owner

STSF has experienced management challenges. We’ve had to replace three moderators and work to find the best way to resource the ones who have chosen to remain. We have to be ready to pivot when current policy doesn’t cover issues that come up. On discussion days, we have to be fully engaged and actively monitor the feed to respond to questions and moderate communications between members. Disagreements on social media can escalate quickly, so we have to be ready to react.

Internet friends are real friends

Our community is unique. Everyone loves buying, selling and trading clothes, but what they love more is engaging with each other and making connections that extend to real life. Our members do in-person clothing swaps, try ons and meetups. We gather for ethical fashion events and maker markets. “Internet friends are real friends” is one of the things we love to say. Recently the New York Times included us in a story about “How To Make Friends Online The Old Fashioned Way.”

This community is also incredibly diverse. I never knew the meaning of intersectionality until I started following social justice activists who showed me that clothing is political. Diving into the issues of labor wages, inclusive sizing, thrifting, fashion ableism, and the unequal treatment of influencers of color gives our community the ability to feel seen if they are marginalized and grants the opportunity to spend their privilege for those that have it. 

An evolving responsibility

SellTradeSlowFashion is nearly 19K strong and growing. People tell us all the time, “you should get paid.” Other sites similar to ours charge their members to list items for sale. We plan to remain a free service but we may soon offer a Patreon for people who appreciate the labor it takes to keep STSF up and running. It will be an interesting exercise in value engineering as we figure out what extra perks we could offer to subscribers. More importantly, the Mod Squad, as we call ourselves, loves having a leadership role in our community and takes our responsibility as a platform quite seriously. Another oft repeated phrase among our members is “We came for the clothes, we stayed for the community.”