Jennifer Perkins Talks 5 Ways Thrifting Could Help You Creatively – Creative Queso Episode #15

Thrifting is a magic cure all for me.  If I have creative block – I go thrifting.  If I need inspiration – I go thrifting.  If I need a new caftan – I go thrifting!  Recently I’ve been having deep thoughts about how thrift store shopping could help your creative career.  Hear me out, in this episode of the Creative Queso Podcast I break it down for you.

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5 Ways Thrifting Could Help your Creative Career

5 Ways Thrifting Could Improve Your Creative Career

I’ve worn a lot of crafty hats in my career.  To name a few I’ve run fashion shows and craft bazaars, hosted television programs, written a book, been the Editor-in-Chief of a kids craft magazine and more. No matter what crafty pompom covered hat I was wearing there was always one creative practice that I adhered too. Thrift store shopping.

For me thrifting adds to my creativity, helps me blow out the cobwebs and inspires me. Let me explain as I’ve broken this down into some handy dandy sections.

  • Clearing Your Head With Other People’s Clutter
  • Get Inspired by Things That Have Been Retired
  • If You Go Into a Barbershop Enough Times You Are Going to Come Out With a Haircut
  • What Is Thriftcasting and Am I Doing it Right Now?
  • Few of My Favorite Thrifted Things

Recently I was sitting on a panel about creativity at Craftcation. Every one of the fabulous creative ladies on the panel had a different way they channeled the muse and mine was the thrift store.  Why you might ask? Well let me explain it’s more than just looking to add to my kaftan and muumuu collection though full disclosure I look for those too.

Thrift store art makeover by Creative Queso host Jennifer Perkins

Clearing Your Head With Other People’s Clutter

When I was a kid sometimes in the evenings my mother used to go out shopping and say she was blowing the stink off.  I’m not sure she was ever going thrifting, but what I do know is that she was going somewhere to mindlessly wander the aisles and clear her head.  When you work from home, have small children underfoot or just need a hot second to clear your head I find thrifting is a great place to go.  Many of them are open until 9 and even if you haven’t showered in days no one will judge you plus ya know cool stuff.

When you are a content designer for other companies, a freelance writer for other publications or perhaps a photographer working with specific style parameters – it can sometimes be hard to get the clients wants and needs out of your head so that you can focus on your own creative works. Combing through aisles of used clothing or flipping through 4 year old magazines while listening to the soothing 80’s jams of Hall and Oates or Phil Collins can be a real game changer.

Some people meditate, I thrift.

Get Inspired By Things That Have Been Retired

While you are walking around the thrift store huffing that smell of industrial grade detergent with disinfectant you would be surprised at everything there that might be used as inspiration. One of my main sources when creating and looking for unique color combinations are vintage textiles – 60’s muumuus and 50’s Barkcloth in particular. In a past life when I was a jewelry designer with The Naughty Secretary Club I would often look to vintage fabric for color ideas.

  • If you knit or crochet stop by the afghan department. Unless I have beat you there and bought them out – you might get inspired for your next granny square.
  • Maybe pottery is your jimmy jam – I have found so many unique pieces at the thrift store with colorful and intricate glazes and shapes.
  • Macrame lovers might be inspired by a new knot in an old donated hanging planter.

One mans junk is another man’s mental treasure. Pinterest aint got nuthin on thrift stores and flea markets when it comes to inspiration.

If You Go Into a Barbershop Enough Times You Are Going To Come Out With a Haircut

I always swear I am just going to window shop when I go thrifting and one look in my garage and under the bed and ok under the couches and in the closets you can see that I don’t always stick to this theory. Often times though this is to my advantage.

I could wax poetic about saving the planet and avoiding mass consumption via the thrift store, but my motives are not that pure. I’m a kitsch lover and the thrift store delivers.

However, don’t overlook the things you could find at the thrift store.

  • Yarn, craft kits, fabric and needles. These are items I am always seeing at the thrift store. One of my favorite pompom tricks is to buy an old latch hook kit.
  • Jewelry designers don’t forget to take a peek at the beads, babbles and chains behind the counter. Back to my jewelry designing days some of my favorite beads and pendants came from thrift store pieces I reworked into original designs.
  • If you are a painter thrift stores are full of canvases begging for a fresh coat of gesso and a new design.
  • Consider yourself a whiz at collage, junk journaling or book binding? Everything you need is probably at your local goodwill. Well ok not Mod Podge and an Awl but maybe they are. I love vintage books and magazines so hard and rarely pass one up with amazing vintage graphics. Don’t even get me started on the ridiculous amount of excitement I get from finding vintage wallpaper or wrapping paper. Oh how I love paper crafts.

There are entire shows about flea market flips. Where do you think those people upchariging you at the flea market got everything? The thrift store – that’s right.

Thriftcasting – It’s a Real Thing!

I might even start an entire video series of me showing what I got on my thrift store adventures and talking about the podcasts I listened to on my way to and fro.

Can you mix business with thrifting pleasure – oh you bet your sweet butt you can and should. Me and The Goal Digger Gal and Ladies from Being Boss have sat on countless 70’s sofas and tried on old cowboy boots together more times than I can count. Sure, people like Amy Porterfield, Andy J Pizza or Marie Forleo don’t know they love thrift store shopping but in my world they do.

Think of it as a two for one special – business research, shopping, head clearing and inspiration all in one place.

A Few Of My Favorite Thrifted Things

Look to the crafts people have donated for inspiration.   I’m not saying bring back the crocheted poodle toilet paper roll cover on aisle 7 – ok wait totally bring that back because I would buy one. But could you instead make a crochet llama, sloth, narwhal or some other on trend animal crocheted toilet paper roll cover?

Other crafts I see on the reg – shell figurines, feather birds, carved coconuts, melted crayon art and a personal favorite stitched fly swatters with lace trim. if someone can figure out how to make these cool you will be my hero.

One thing I never pass up at the thrift store are vintage craft books and magazines. I have shelves of these bad boys. They are endlessly kitschy and inspiring. Sure someone of these crafts should never be brought back but have you seen the way Handmade Charollete makes painted peanut people and macronni jewelry look cute. This is what I am talking about.

I get it, thrift stores are not for everyone.  Plus some of you poor people may not have them in your towns bless your hearts.  However, this is why God created Craig’s List, eBay and Facebook Groups.  Not quite the same, but you can still pop on some Doobie Brothers of Loggins and Messina and pretend you are there.

Second hand finds whether they be at a thrift store, estate sale, eBay or Flea Market always get my creative juices flowing in one way or another.  Coming full circle back to the panel I was speaking on and I talked about thrift store shopping as a source for creativity an example I brought up was a yellow and green couch I bought from a Salvation Army.  The 60’s floral pattern called to me with it’s tack-a-liscious siren song and before I knew what happened there she was strapped in my car.  I made my sister come over to help me lug it inside hoping my husband wouldn’t;t notice which he didn’t for days maybe weeks.  That one couch inspired me to change the look of the entire room and decorate a yellow Christmas tree accordingly.  That same couch and room and tree spun off tons of holiday content that I did for my own website, DIY Network, HGTV and of course all my social channels.
Thrift store scores are real and they don’t always have to come in the form of a couch.  Sometimes they are an idea or a quiet moment alone flipping through used books.  The muse comes to all of us in different ways my muse just often times comes second hand and smells a bit musty.