Kirsi and Kate SWAP up how kids share their clothes

Ingrid Houtkooper

Flare leggings. High-waisted jeans. Matching pajama sets. All fashionable trends in 2022. Another fashionable trend? Sharing clothes with your friends. Swapping clothes is something teenagers have been doing for years and something that inspired two teens from Mill Valley to start their own business, KK Swaps. 

Kate Rosegard and Kirsi Harris are juniors at Tamalpais High School who started their own alternative thrift and consignment business after being inspired by how often their friends swapped clothes. 

“We were constantly trading clothes with our friends, but we weren’t charging people for it. So [we thought,] ‘What if we made this into a big social event and people would come buy [clothes] and trade permanently?’” Harris said. 

Every month the girls host clothing sales in Rosegard’s driveway in Mill Valley. What might seem like simply setting up a yard sale and pricing clothes is much more intricate than many would imagine. Anyone who wants to sell clothes can message the girls on Instagram at @kk.swaps and drop off the clothes at Rosegard’s house, where Rosegard and Harris go through and tag the items. People who drop off clothes get to price their own clothing and once a purchase is made, they receive 70 percent of the profit. The remaining 30 percent goes to Rosegard and Harris. 

Having run swaps since February 2021, the girls agree they are finally starting to get the hang of it. Despite not making much revenue in the beginning, the first year was vital in getting the business up and running.

“It feels like we needed a full year for it to take off. [We spent] the whole year purchasing clothing racks, tables and tags and trying to get people to come. I feel like now we’ve got it set,” Rosegard said. 

Although KK Swaps was at first a small idea, it quickly transformed into something much bigger than either of the girls imagined. 

“With every sale, its grown exponentially. The amount of people that have been coming,  the amount of clothes we’ve sold and the inventory we’ve gotten has grown a lot,” Harris said. 

The sales are typically packed for the first two hours and consistently have lines of customers waiting down the street. Behind the scenes of these sales are hours 

of preparation spent getting ready for the swaps, such as organizing and modeling the clothes for their Instagram and spreading the word about the swaps. 

“The hardest part is the tedious tagging of the clothes. We get such a large range of clothes, that it’s very overwhelming to deal with it. We spend at least three to four hours a week tagging the clothes, and [before] the sale we are [at Rosegard’s house] every single day after school tagging,” Harris said.

The more successful the business becomes, the more people are interested in learning about the girls’ process. Schools such as Del Mar Middle School and Park Elementary School have reached out to the girls to ask them to talk with classes about entrepreneurship and the importance of sustainable shopping. The longer the girls have run the business, the more aware and educated they have become on the impacts of fast fashion. Having this knowledge has helped them to promote shopping at KK Swaps, since it is considerably more sustainable than many big brands. 

“You’re second-hand shopping. It’s very sustainable because you’re repurposing clothes that you would originally donate, and would just end up in the landfill,” Rosegard said. 

Although the idea was initially formed as a simple way to share clothes you no longer want with friends, Rosegard and Harris quickly saw the sustainability behind the sales, along with the positive impact it has on the environment. 

“It’s shocking because in Marin, everyone has so many clothes. Trends are constantly changing and fast fashion is all about making cheap clothes at a mass production rate. Through KK Swaps, we’ve had people drop off so many clothes that are brand new with [the] tags on. It’s nice being able to give it another life and see it as something that you might not want for yourself, but that someone else could cherish and love,” Rosegard said. 

 Catherine Hackett, a senior at Redwood and co-leader of Redwood’s Thrift for Hope Club agrees that sustainable shopping is a beneficial way to expand your closet. 

“[Thrifting is] such a fun way to find a unique style because I feel like everyone has the same clothes. It’s fun to try something new and also be more sustainable at the same time,” Hackett said. 

Hackett’s club puts on thrift sales, similar to KK Swaps, whenever they can. However, Hackett emphasized that the club has not put one on in a while, partially because they take a lot of work to set up. 

“I admire that they’re able to [have sales] more often than we are. It’s a lot of work to put together and to keep all the clothes. I have bags and bags of thrifted clothes in my garage from all the sales, so they must have so much. I think that’s really awesome that [Rosegard and Harris] are doing that,” Hackett said. 

Rosegard also has plenty of bags piling up in her garage from past sales and for future ones. Although the majority of clothes filling Rosegard’s garage get sold, some of them don’t. In this case, people are allowed to come and pick up their clothes. Otherwise, the girls donate them. 

“At the end of last summer, we donated all of the old clothes. We like to start each school year with fresh inventory because there are some items that don’t sell time after time. We donated them to a family in Guatemala last time, and at the end of this year we are looking to donate our jeans to Habitat for Humanity,” Harris said. 

Habitat for Humanity is a denim recycling project that takes jeans, which KK Swaps has plenty of, and turns them into housing insulation for communities in need. 

As long as people keep participating in KK Swaps, Rosegard and Harris are excited to continue hosting sales, and eventually pass the business on to Harris’ younger sisters. Beyond the enjoyment of running the sales, both Harris and Roegard are pleased with how much they have learned from the process, including organization, money management, marketing and public speaking. Both are excited to continue educating others about the importance of sustainable shopping and possibly pursuing similar paths in the future.