IWA seniors start online clothing company during pandemic

January 12, 2021

Two seniors at Incarnate Word Academy opened an online upcycled clothing company that uses social media to give old clothes new life. (Photo by Hannah Morgan)

HOUSTON — While most Americans handled the COVID-19 quarantine with television, eating or other self-indulging devices, two high school seniors took the time to develop a plan.

Six months later, Ana Sofia Aragon, 18, and Lily Collora, 17, seniors at Incarnate Word Academy (IWA), are the owners and operators of LANA Thrift Flips, an online clothing company that allows them to sell upcycled clothing and save the environment at the same time.

“During quarantine, we socially distanced for several months but were able to FaceTime daily to brainstorm,” said Aragon. “None of the physical work actually started until June.”

A book, “Fashionopolis,” triggered the idea after Aragon received a copy from her father. It discussed fast fashion, a practice by large companies of pumping clothes out at rapid speeds to meet constantly changing fashion demands.

As a result, a large amount of the mass-produced, inexpensive clothing is usually discarded, hardly worn, before consumers are out buying more.

“The trends change every week, and companies are pumping clothes out like crazy and are not aware of the damage it is causing to the environment and low-paid workers,” Aragon said. “So I got Lily, my entrepreneurial fashion friend, on the phone and wondered how can we do something that will take up our time and work towards another cause?”

The answer, they discovered, was to create new clothing items out of old clothes. So the duo created a business plan, got small start-up loans from their parents, created an Instagram page, and visited thrift stores to get used clothes.

In order to upcycle, the girls hand-make blouses and crop tops from silky scarves and add designs, such as fabric paint and bling, to jeans and pants.

“I learned the whole process of sewing and even got a sewing machine for my birthday in July,” said Collora. “I’ve always had a creative side, and I’ve always easily caught on to things like stitching and hand sewing.”

Once completed, the upcycled items are sold from their Instagram page and on Depop, an online app for clothing resale that has over 10 million users. Their “new” clothing items sell for $10 to $20.

All profits are immediately pumped back into their home business, which they named LANA, a combination of their names. So far, LANA Thrift Flips is proving to be a success.
“Upcycling is a trend, and the more unique you are, the cooler you are,” Aragon said. “Everyone has an open mind about this because the movement against fast fashion has skyrocketed. A lot of the reason why my generation’s mentality is changing is because they are being more educated about it.”

Both students took several classes at IWA that assisted them in their business journey, including Leading With Service and Leading With Business. Collora also took Textile Design.

The young ladies credit their families, friends and IWA for the support they receive.

“All of us are so proud of the business Ana Sofia and Lily have built,” said Sister Lauren Beck, CVI, president of IWA. “It is a credit to their character and the education foundation they’ve received. We look forward to watching their company grow.”

And no one is more proud than the parents.

“I am absolutely thrilled to see Lily and Ana Sophia follow their passion for business and in fast fashion/fashion period,” said Geralyn Collora, Collora’s mom.

“When young adults can identify early on what they love doing, and they are passionate about it, I feel that is more than half the battle,” Geralyn Collora added. “They set themselves up to go for it. I am very proud and excited to see these two young ladies carve out their future.”

“We are very proud of Ana Sofia and Lily’s entrepreneurial spirit,” said Monica Aragon, Aragon’s mom. “Ana Sofia’s grit and passion for fashion and the environment will result in great accomplishments.”

Since both ladies are high school seniors, graduation is planned for 2021. But that won’t end their newly created business endeavor. They’ve talked and written down big plans for when they attend college in the Texas area.

Collora and Aragon expect to major in entrepreneurship or business while in college.

“There is a girl in London who does almost the same thing as us,” Aragon said. “She is making a lot of money. We want to take LANA and make it bigger and better, but it is definitely not something we are going to just drop.”

To see their clothing, visit instagram.com/lanathriftflips.