A few months ago I was approached by a representative of Little Havens Charity about a catwalk event they were involved in. The event was a small event organised by a local M&Co store and they had invited Little Havens to fund raise at the event and agreed to let Little Havens enter some outfits from their charity shop which was positioned opposite the M&Co store. So I was asked if I would like to find some models and put together some outfits from their shop to enter into the catwalk. Obviously I jumped at the chance!
I have been to Little Havens Hospice in Benfleet and seen what an amazing place it is. They help children and young people with life-limiting or life-threatening conditions as well as offering help and support to their families. The hospice is in a beautiful meadowland setting and they have literally thought of everything to make the hospice as accommodating and homely as possible. They rely on donations to keep them funded and volunteers to help maintain the premises. It is a phenomenal place and I was only too happy to help.
With the challenge laid out, my first job was to secure some models for the event which meant some serious sweet talking with three of my close friends and for such a good cause, how could they refuse? Fortunately one of those friends loves a bargain and is no stranger to picking up the odd charity shop bargain. This was a huge bonus for me as I have to confess that I was a charity shop virgin up until this point so was grateful to have my hand held as I entered this new world of second-hand shopping.
Over the period of a few weeks we made several trips to a couple of different Little Havens shops and each time we never walked away empty handed. I was amazed at the bargains you could pick up if you are prepared to really have a rummage through the rails. They have many items that were like new and lots of decent highstreet brands like Coast, Superdry and Principles. Having spoken to the Manager at M&Co we knew we needed outfits for Christmas casual and outerwear, Christmas party and a day to evening outfit. With the brief in mind we started to gather garments that we felt would fit well with one or more of those categories and the Manager at Little Havens was generous enough to let us take away quite a selection of clothes, shoes and accessories.
The next step was to start putting the outfits together and I decided the best way to do this was to get my volunteer models together, ply them with some food and wine and then see what fitted whom and what items worked well together. The hardest part of this process turned out to be narrowing down which items and outfits we were going to use (and the occasional dispute over who was wearing what). By the time the evening was over we had decided on the outfits and my friends had already decided they were going to buy half of the garments they were modelling!
So the fashion show itself came around and we were feeling pretty confident about the outfits we were showing but couldn’t wait to have a nose at how we compared to the M&Co styling. And I have to say, we faired very well against the rails of brand new clothes they were ready to model. We had a couple of last minute outfit changes (mainly because we still had so many outfits we wanted to show and so had to narrow it down) but the evening was a great success for all. We received fantastic feedback on the clothes and even sold a few more garments on the night. The evening really helped to raise the profile of the charity shop and show what sort of gems you could buy in there. Not to mention it was a huge eye opener for me and I am definitely a charity shop convert, walking away with a few purchases of my own. I think the biggest bargain has to be a real leather pencil skirt that we picked up for a mere £2.50! Granted you have to be prepared to have a rummage and whilst you can be limited on size consider whether items can be altered as often it may be well worth the small additional cost. So it is well worth popping into your local charity shop rather than just passing it by as you never know what gems you might find.