Looking to connect women in the Austin community, six friends formed a nonprofit that provides the ultimate free shopping event.
By Abigail Rosenthal, Photos by Grace Sitzes and Jessalyn Lui
Every Thursday morning for two years, a group of six women met for coffee and conversation. From those meetings grew a nonprofit, one that celebrates sisterhood and spreads kindness through generosity.
Last fall, Tara Young, one of the founders of 2Fold, had the idea for an event that would allow women to shop for free with clothing donated by the community. She pitched Grateful Thread to the group in January, and everyone immediately got started on making it a reality.
“I got the idea from a similar concept that a church was putting on in Atlanta,” says Young, a technologist at Google by day. “I remember hearing about it and just feeling so convinced that my friends would be the perfect group to make this thing come alive.”
The community responded as readily as Young’s friends did. Ace Tailors began accepting clothing donations on behalf of 2Fold and local boutiques, and women contributed inventory, but not everything immediately fell into place.
“We were halfway through planning this and we still didn’t have a venue. Imagine that,” Young says. “But we knew it would work out in the end. We just all had the faith. Then finally, Anna Crelia from Loot Vintage Rentals said, ‘Absolutely! Come on over!’ And we all just fell on our backs.”
On the evening of May 12, only three months after 2Fold started planning Grateful Thread, 400 women lined up with bags and 10 item-redeeming tickets.
“It was incredible,” says 2Fold’s Laura Whittaker. “I’ll say, for myself, it far exceeded my expectations. Just to speak to time line, like [Tara] said, we had the idea, we hit the ground running and what we pulled off in such a short time frame and with such limited resources, to me, looking back, that’s the most incredible thing.”
Outside of shopping, Grateful Thread patrons were pampered with free spa services and snacks from local vendors. Young and the others wanted to provide a fun girls’-night- out vibe for all the guests.
“I remember looking out the windows…[and]the coolest thing, to me, was just looking out and [seeing]all of those different women sitting around and talking,” Whittaker says. “That was so incredible to me. People were truly there, meeting one another and interacting with people from throughout the community.”
Young and Whittaker can attest to how much of a success Grateful Thread was. Shoppers asked how they could volunteer as they were leaving. Requests came in from throughout the world, from New York to Haiti, asking if 2Fold had branches in other cities or if would host the event elsewhere.
Young attributes the event’s success to the group’s enthusiasm, with each founder contributing in a different way.
“I feel like that’s the best part of the story,” Young says. “We’re six girls from six really different backgrounds and six totally different skill sets.”
Now 2Fold is creating a community-wide #GTGirlGang to involve even more women in the next project. At the first meetup Aug. 10, Young hopes to figure out how to expand throughout Austin.
“After Grateful Thread, we had such an outpouring of interest from women around Austin who wanted to be involved,” Young says. “This is our way of opening our doors to anyone who [wants to] get involved and be a changemaker in their own community.”
For other women looking to start a nonprofit, Young has simple advice.
“Just start. Don’t worry about the rest,” she says. “Just put one foot in front of the other. That’s all you can do.”