Houston Chronicle | Style Profile: Thriving thrifter Jen Meneely

Before having a conversation with Jen Meneely, one might assume that this Burberry-and-Kate-Spade-clad mom splits her time among kids, cooking and carpool. Turns out she busts those preconceived notions.

Not only did Meneely start an e-commerce vintage clothing and accessories company – shopjenscloset.com – after relocating from Rosenberg to River Oaks, but she runs her home-based business while attending the University of Houston full time, majoring in criminal justice.

The self-proclaimed “big thrifter” spends at least 20 hours per week haunting the racks of Goodwill, the Cottage Thrift Shop and the Charity Guild to find her prized pieces. After sharpening her online sales skills with an embroidery company, Meneely decided three years ago to sell her bargain wares after amassing quite an impressive collection of designer pieces – Prada, Chanel, Diane Von Furstenberg and Escada, to name-drop a few labels.

Here, the seasoned bargain buyer shares her treasure hunting tips and a few of her favorite things.

My tips for a thrift store novice are … Avoid Wednesdays, due to it being the senior-citizen-discount day. Don’t try digging for couture on the weekends because the shops are always way too crowded. With the inventory changing weekly, there are always hidden finds, so don’t give up if your first several outings turn into bargain bombs.

I make vintage modern by … Pairing only one vintage piece with my overall look. I also have been known to take old buttons, collars and even fabrics and add these elements to a current season piece.

My best piece of advice for an e-commerce entrepreneur is … Beware of buying more inventory than you can sell, and realize that the entire process (from shopping to photos to shipping) is extremely time intensive.

One of my most legendary scores was … A Bill Tice dress that I paid $10 for at Goodwill – stylist Rachel Zoe was spotted wearing the exact same dress.

The piece I’m currently on the look out for … is a velvet doctor’s bag by Roberta di Camerino.

My favorite place to escape is … my home in Los Barriles, Mexico, with my wind-surfing-loving husband and daughter Morgan.

An item I cannot live without is … my iPhone.

I would die for … (Houston-based) Donae Chramosta aka the Vintage Contessa’s bag collection.

I’m embarrassed to admit that my favorite movie is … “Dirty Dancing.”

I’ll be watching the Oscars red-carpet coverage for … Gwyneth Paltrow. I love her classic sense of style.



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