Natalie Skoblow always had a secret plan for her life, and now the secret’s out.
The third-year public relations major is the founder of boutique thrift shop Hidden Harmony’s Closet. The shop will open Sept. 14 inside The Green Palette, a furniture store specializing in eco-friendly furniture and home decor, located at 215 Main St.
“In the back of my head, I really wanted to open something of my own someday,” Skoblow said.
As a passionate thrifter and the founder of SUNY New Paltz’s Think Thrift club, she has been sifting through thrift and secondhand stores for bargain prices for more than four years.
Caitlyn Maceli, a member of the club and a third-year environmental geochemical science major, said Skoblow’s passion for sustainability and style are always present when they scan thrift stores for finds. Maceli often comes with Skoblow on thrifting trips, and said Skoblow has a good eye for what can sell.
“She tries to look for nice quality,” Maceli said. “She feels it and looks at the brand.”
The fashion-conscious Skoblow’s previous time in retail helped her determine the need for her expertise: stylish clothes that would make even budget-conscious college students smile. She had worked at Urban Outfitters, surrounded by all the makings of a fashion-forward wardrobe, but with prices unrealistic for college students.
“I love Urban Outifitters clothing,” Skoblow said. “But their stuff is mass-produced – oh, this is a vintage sweater, but it’s not really.”
Thrift and consignment stores often offer similar products at half the price. Skoblow recently lost 20 pounds, and she turned to thrifting to revamp her wardrobe.
“I know the market and audience really well because I’m in my customer base,” Skoblow said. “I’ve put so much time and effort into having people be aware of the benefits of it. I figured, why not make that a career for me?”
Marc Anthony, the owner of The Green Palette, had been in touch with the Think Thrift club and offered them space and supplies. When he heard Skoblow wanted to start her own shop, he offered space within The Green Palette free of charge.
“I’ve talked to so many people who’ve said, ‘Oh, I need to go shopping, but I don’t have any money,’” Skoblow said. “I price the items the way that I would buy them. I’m going to be honest with my customers.”
Skoblow purchased two long, vintage dresses the day before she began selling online. Although she’d thought about opening the business for months, those dresses came at a time when she knew she was ready.
“I didn’t like the way they looked on me, but I knew I could sell them. I didn’t even tell anyone about it – family or friends. It was a very spontaneous thing, a typical Natalie move,” she said.
After her first sale via her shop’s Facebook, Skoblow told her parents. They weren’t surprised, Skoblow said. She personally wrapped up her first sale, the vintage dress, and delivered it to her customer because the woman couldn’t get to the village.
“There’s always a middle way,” Skoblow said.
Even the naming of her shop reflects her determination and dedication – the phrase “find your hidden harmony” is both her life philosophy and a tattoo on her back.
“When you have two notes, there’s always a middle note that can fit in that’s going to sound nice,” Skoblow said. “You may not see it at the time, or hear it, but if you’re patient, you’ll be able to see that middle sound or middle way. When you find that item in thrifting…it’s like finding a hidden treasure.”