On the corner of Fifth Ave. and 31 St., stands a building. It’s not elaborate, it doesn't draw much attention, and it could easily be overlooked. But, despite the unadorned physical appearance, Preloved Chica Clothing has made a name for itself for what happens on the inside.
The mission of Preloved Chica Clothing is to create a positive impact in the lives of women through reselling used clothing.
It was created by four women who care deeply about women issues and the wellbeing of women in the South Tucson community: Maritza Broce, a union organizer and administrative manager; Lorena Howard, a domestic violence counselor; Leatanya Koppa, a high school counselor; and Rosalva Fuentes, a human and civil-rights advocate for immigrant communities founded Preloved Chica Clothing in 2011.
The boutique was built upon the principle to stray away from a typical non-profit model, but still have the ability to make a difference in the South Tucson community. Most non-profit organizations are built by using the grant method, but with this method if the grant is lost or if the supporters shift their focus, the organization is put at risk. Preloved Chica Clothing is founded upon the product sales model, meaning that the product that they are giving back is donated to them. With this model, the organization is able to be self sufficient.
Preloved Chica Clothing is a local resale boutique that not only provides a clothing outlet for the community, it makes a conscious effort to touch the lives of women in the South Tucson community in a positive way. The boutique is using clothing as a common ground to foster community and improves the lives of women in South Tucson.
The original idea for the clothing store was to provide gently used clothing to women who are re-entering the workforce. The idea was to provide these women with low cost, but quality professional attire. Since then it has grown to affordable clothing for all different aspects of a woman’s life, including clothing for children.
With fast fashion retailers such as H&M and Forever 21 taking over the mainstream industry, it is a change of pace to see a boutique with such a meaningful mission. Fast fashion focuses on getting product out at a quick pace, the goal of fast fashion retailers is to make money. The goal of
Preloved Chica Clothing is to focus on people instead of the company.
The resale model was proven successful through local Tucson clothing store, Buffalo Exchange. It benefits the boutique by providing merchandise, while allowing community members to recycle their old clothing to a worthy cause instead of hoarding it or throwing it away.
Preloved Chica Clothing is using clothing, and using it to to enact change for women in the South Tucson community.
The clothes are donated by community members and all proceeds that are gained from the sale of these items goes directly back into the South Tucson community, specifically into Fortín de las Flores.
“Fortín is a place where women feel comfortable, South Tucson resident Rachel Martinez said. “They offer support groups for people suffering though domestic housing and they also give food and shelter to women who can’t help themselves.”
Fortín de las Flores is a social services organization that specializes in women's rights.
Fortín provides medical care, housing, food, and domestic violence support groups. They assist women in job searches, resume building, as well as helping high school girls apply for internships and scholarships.
“I shop at Chica because whatever I spend here goes to help people that I care about deeply, my friends,” Becca Vasquez, a frequent shopper, said. “I was in a dark place at one point in my life, just a couple of years ago. Through Chica I was able to afford clothing to get myself working and I will always be grateful to them and Fortín as well.”