Meet Me in Medford | Stefanie Johnson of SwapIt
If your New Year’s resolutions include looking more fashionable and reducing your carbon footprint, then look no further than SwapIt in South Medford, where thrifting and personal-styling meet! We spoke with SwapIt owner, Stefanie Johnson about her business, and her experience as a local entrepeneur in Medford.
Tell us about SwapIt, what inspired you to create the business and the services you offer.
At SwapIt, we help busy women curate a personal style by swapping clothes instead of shopping for them.
As with many businesses, the idea was born out of my own shopping struggle. I was living in New York City at the start of my career, where you needed to look nice, and I didn't have much cash. I wanted to leverage my desire to keep my consumption to a minimum but maximize my budget while still looking and feeling good in what I wore.
Shopping second-hand was time-consuming; going through racks and racks of stuff is not my style. I didn't have the time; I didn't have the patience. I'd worked with a personal stylist but wasn't thrilled with the result because all the clothes were brand-new; I wanted to keep my clothing choices as eco-friendly and green as possible. I hated throwing clothes away just because I didn't like them.
Then it hit me: what if there was a way to make second-hand shopping easier so more people would do it? SwapIt allows women to offload the clothes they no longer love and leave with outfits that speak to their style and values.
What made you choose Medford as the home for your business?
Simply put, SwapIt's mission aligns well with the values of the Medford community. Many of our clients are women who want to curate a personal style and embrace upcycled clothing for their budget and the environment. The City of Medford is also incredibly supportive of small businesses and has gone above and beyond to make us feel welcome and supported in the business community. When we first located to our Main Street location, the Planning and Development Office reached out to us to ask how they could be of service and made it very clear that boutique-style businesses are of greater interest than big-box stores.
What do you love most about your business neighborhood?
The South Medford Business District has been amazing and so collaborative. We've hosted our own Trick-or-Treat and now are part of the city-wide event. We also organized a Holiday Stroll a few years ago, where The Corner Studio Yoga hosted carolers, and participants would get a map of the stores in the area. You received a goodie bag if you spent $5 or more in three locations. It was a lot of fun, and coordinating with my business neighbors felt so good.
What are some of your favorite spots around the city, business-related or otherwise?
One of my favorite restaurants in Medford is Real Gusto in Medford Square. Not only is the food delicious, but if you can get one of the tables by the windows in the back, it feels like you're on vacation! You have such a beautiful view of the river, and it's so peaceful and calming. A true getaway where you also get to enjoy fantastic Italian food!
The Medford Family Network is an invaluable resource for parents and families in Medford. When I talk with people outside of Medford, they are always surprised at how much the MFN offers. Playgroups in the Park in the good weather, and the welcoming space at the high school all year long, where workshops help you get your parenting legs on. I also love that they have their own little “Freebie Foyer” where you can leave clothing or toys or take some. It's been a lifesaver for my family and me.
If your best friend told you they were considering moving to Medford to live or to set up their business. What would you tell them?
Medford is where businesses and residents value connection and care about the community. Look at Trove Green Provisions and their eco-friendly home and beauty products; they want to improve the world, and it shows. Or Goldilox Bagels; they maintain online ordering out of respect for their patrons and West Street neighbors because they don't want traffic to become burdensome. Engaged and caring businesses absolutely have a place in Medford, and those are the businesses that make Medford such a wonderful place to live.
Ready to swap instead of shop? Sign up for SwapIt’s One Free Swap, where you can bring in one piece of clothing you no longer wear and leave with an item you won’t stop wearing!
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