We Become What We Repeatedly Do

We Become What We Repeatedly Do

Habit

11. Sustainable Cities and Communities 12. Responsible Consumption and Production

Overview

“By day, I am a User Experience Designer at IBM, and by night, I am a Vintage Shop Owner.” A few years ago, McMullen curated a vintage shop called Habit. By using Instagram to resell her thrifted finds, she has managed to make recycled clothing a fashion-forward trend.

Authors

Abby Desveaux

Abby Desveaux

Mitchell Emerson

Mitchell Emerson

Xiangyi Shang

Xiangyi Shang

Tanim Mahfuz

Tanim Mahfuz

School

Dalhousie University

Dalhousie University

Professors

Kent Williams

Kent Williams

Malti Puri

Malti Puri

Innovation

The items at Habit range from local finds – Frenchy’s and Value Village – to finds from thrift stores across the world, sourced from McMullen's business trips. She has two loves: fashion and thrifting. The idea of Habit was to combine the two and make thrifting fashionable. “By purchasing pre-loved pieces and giving them a new life, we can create new stories,” she said.

A lot of people like the idea of thrifting and sustainable fashion, but actually working towards the UN's goal of responsible consumption can be a challenge. “The hunt” of thrifting is an overwhelming task for many consumers. Not everyone has a knack for fashion. Finding a “gem” requires both patience and expertise. For that reason, a lot of people will resort to stores like H&M or Zara, where trends are conveniently displayed on mannequins.

At Habit, McMullen does the “hunting”, so consumers don’t have to. She markets her shop ingeniously, so much so, that she has captured the attention of 5,000 people. “My customers are mostly women, ranging from 20 to 40 years-old. Some of them are from Halifax, but I do some orders globally too. I’ve even had customers from Europe,” she added.

We Become What We Repeatedly Do

Making Recycled-Clothing Fashionable

Inspiration

The idea for Habit was born from McMullen's passion for thrifting.

“Some of my favorite childhood memories are the times I went thrift shopping with my mom. She taught me all about textures, patterns, and how to find unique pieces. As soon as I was old enough to get a part time job, I found myself spending almost all of my pay checks at thrift stores. I loved the hunt. I still do,.” she explained.

A few years ago, McMullen realized that her thrifting habit was starting to get a bit out of control. She wanted to find a way to “showcase her passion” while also reducing the number of items in her closet. At the same time, she learned more about how over-buying consumer behaviors were resulting in harmful environmental impacts. She thought what better way to recycle her clothes than by starting a little business? Then it happened. Habit was born. The name of the shop reflecting her personal “habit” of shopping.

McMullen believes that by supporting sustainable fashion, we are taking care of our planet. “I trust that even small actions, like buying second-hand versus buying off-the-rack, will go a long way.” The purpose of her innovation lies in the heart of human nature. “Humans are creatures of habit. When we repeatedly do something – good or bad – it becomes a part of us,” she. noted. By marketing the benefits of sustainable shopping and selling second-hand items, she is passing on a healthy habit to her 5,000 followers.

Overall impact

The impact of Habit, and other shops with similar business models, are working hard to combat the environmental costs of fast fashion. In the last decade, views on clothing have changed dramatically. The current generation has shifted away from buying one, durable and reusable item that will last 10 years, to buying five items that will be worn only once or twice.

So, how does recycling clothing help our environment? Consider the facts:

  • The apparel industry accounts for 10% of global carbon emissions.
  • Synthetic fibers are used in 72% of clothing, and these fibers can take 200 years to decompose.
  • Up to 20,000 litres of water are needed to produce just 1kg of cotton, generating tremendous pressure on this precious and scarce resource. In most of the countries in which garments are produced, untreated toxic wastewaters from textile factories are dumped directly into the rivers.
McMullen works hard to reduce these effects by encouraging consumers to change their shopping “habits.” In doing so, she’s changed her own mindset. “I look for items that are ethically made and that will last me a long time. Before I bring an item to the counter, I ask myself, how many times am I going to wear this? Doing this helps me buy only what I need,” she explained. Another rule for her personal shopping is “buy one, get rid of one.”

Business benefit

By giving customers a new way to 'do good,' and saving them the hassle of thrifting, McMullen has created a new service for Haligonians. She has grown a wide and loyal customer base off of 5,000 followers. Habit is well known by Dalhousie students, and she is what some may consider a "social media influencer" here in Halifax. When she posts a new item on her Instagram, it sells almost instantly.

The true power of social media is influence. McMullen has connected and inspired the minds of consumers around the world, reaching people as far as Europe. Like she says, "by doing one small thing, we can change so much." Habit has illustrated that idea perfectly.

McMullen has already achieved great things by creating Habit, but there is certainty more to come. When asked what her top three wishes would be for her business, she said, “I would love to design my own ethical pieces sourced with sustainable fabrics, host community markets, and ultimately, open a physical location.”

Social and environmental benefit

"All humans want to do better," she noted. A limiting mindset can be that responsible consumption and other sustainable acts, are too difficult to implement. Perhaps it's a lack of time, money, or education. McMullen has created a business that breaks down these barriers.

Habit, and curated stores like it, are paving the way for a more environmentally friendly and fashionable world. The young entrepreneur offers wise advice on how we can move forward. “It doesn’t just happen overnight. It’s impossible to transition every aspect of your life all at once. Instead, try making small, incremental changes for the better. Eventually, your new way of thinking will be second nature. Or should I say, a “habit.”"

Interview

Lindsay McMullen, Founder

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Habit

Habit

Halifax, Nova Scotia, CA

Business Website: https://habitstudio_

Year Founded: 2019

Number of Employees: 2 to 10

A few years ago, Lindsay McMullen, a 28-year-old Halifax native, curated a vintage shop called Habit. By using Instagram to resell her thrifted finds, she has managed to make recycled clothing a fashion-forward trend.