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Saturday, June 22, 2024
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From farm girl to sustainable fashionista: Anne Runde and her online apparel store

On any average day, Anne Runde will walk to class and encounter three or four people complimenting her “one-of-a-kind” thrifted outfits. 

Runde is the owner and founder of Threader.Co, an online thrift and custom apparel store. Since founding Threader.Co in May 2020, Runde has sold over 2000 items through the business’ Instagram and Etsy pages

Growing up on a dairy farm in rural Wisconsin, Runde learned at a young age what it takes to run a business. However, her interest in sustainable fashion did not develop until she was in college. 

As a sophomore at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Runde started shopping at the thrift store as a way to inexpensively “spruce up” her personal style. She was inspired to start reselling thrifted pieces after finding fashionable items at the thrift store that were not her size.

“I just found this huge market gap,” Runde said. “There were all these affordable clothes that didn’t necessarily fit me, but they would fit somebody else.”

When she first started, Runde sold simple, thrifted t-shirts for 5 dollars on Instagram. Recently, Runde found her “thrifting niche” — selling vintage and customized Badger gear.

“I'm really passionate about providing a sustainable alternative rather than going to the bookstore and spending $80 on a brand new Champion windbreaker,” Runde said.

In June 2021, over a year since Runde started the business, Threader.Co went viral. Runde created a TikTok advertising a vintage pop-up event she and her friends were hosting in Madison. The video gained tens of thousands of views. The line for the pop-up stretched two blocks down State Street. 

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Threader.Co’s online orders skyrocketed. At first, Runde was able to manage the increase in orders and followers but as school began in the fall she struggled to balance her classes, social life and business commitments. Runde’s roommate and best friend, Cammi Ganshert, began to notice a shift in Runde’s personality and demeanor.

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Since Runde runs Threader.Co out of their living room, Ganshert is often the first one to see the clothes Runde thrifts and customizes. She has been nothing but supportive of Runde, but their relationship grew “tense” as Runde tried to find balance in her life. 

“We had a heart to heart conversation,” Ganshert said. “I was like your mental health is not good and it's making our dynamic bad… you are too great of a person to be pushing yourself this hard.”

In December alone, Runde had to complete and ship out 57 customized orders before Christmas. After the holiday rush and finals, she shut down her Etsy shop for all of January and sought out resources from University Health Services to better deal with her mental health struggles. 

“I mean it was very nice when I had all those orders. I had a lot of money, but I'm realizing now that it's not about money for me,” Runde said. “I'm way more happy now but less [financially] comfortable. It's a trade off for me.”

Ganshert is proud of the progress Runde has made with her mental health and business.

“In the past three months, I've been able to see her find that balance and do the things that she wants to do, all while being able to make money and feel fulfilled in her business,” Ganshert said. “It’s been super awesome to see her do that.”

Runde reopened her Etsy shop in February, but is trying to be more mindful of the number of orders she accepts. After she graduates in May, Runde plans to stay in Madison for another year to help run Madison Vintage Events. The collective is “a community of entrepreneurs fueling the city with the best vintage goods, art, and clothing.” Their next event is June 11 and 12, and will feature vintage clothing for sale, local artwork and live music. 

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Runde does not know how long she will run Threader.Co, but she plans to continue thrifting daily, even if she stops or sells the business.

Looking to the future of fashion, she hopes that other consumers will implement more sustainable fashion choices into their closets. 

“A significant amount more people are choosing to shop secondhand now, and I think that's just going to be kind of the precedent,” Runde stressed. “Sustainable fashion is only going to get more popular; it’s going to be the next wave.”

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