The Duchess of Thrift and her love of pre-loved

‘Money Saving Mum’ Heidi Ondrak, also known as the Duchess of Thrift, is based in Plymouth and a big supporter of b.kinda. She shares her food, fashion and thrifting tips on social media to hundreds of thousands of followers. She also often pops in to b.kinda HQ to help us put together some mystery boxes and catch up with the team.

She agreed to chat to us in our latest blog about why she loves secondhand so much and what her recommendations are to someone just getting started.

Who are you and what are you known for?

I am Heidi Ondrak, a 52 year old mum and Project Manager by day. I am known as the duchessofthrift on Instagram and on TikTok where I share my second hand styling tips as well as cheeky thrifty money saving hacks!

In 2022 you made a New Year’s resolution vowing not to buy anymore new clothes. How have you found that and what has it saved you in the process?

I have always bought secondhand since I was a teenager and I regularly visited Birmingham rag market, Camden and Portobello Road for vintage, I did however buy new clothes too. 

My online shopping got out of hand in lockdown so I vowed to break the cycle by buying only preloved in 2022, I have carried this through to 2023 and have saved myself about £5000 by switching new clothes for thrifted treasure!

What do you love so much about saving money in all areas of your life?

It’s like a challenge to me, why pay full price for new when there are great opportunities to find great bargains and preloved goodies for less? It feels exciting to save money – and with most of my swaps I am being more sustainable too.

You have previously admitted to being an ‘impulsive shopper’. How has becoming a thrifty shopper helped and what advice would you give to someone in the same position?

I would shop on my feelings. Identifying your triggers and being aware really helps. I apply a 21 day rule to buying non-essential new things. Let’s face it, none of us need more stuff  in our lives and if you wait 21 days to purchase a ‘want’, if you still want it and it’s still there, go for it. 80% of the time I’ve forgotten about it or don’t even like it as much. 

The other thing is to delete shopping apps and unsubscribe from emails so that you don’t get tempted. I always click ‘no’ to cookies on websites, otherwise the meta code will make things you were browsing pop-up on social media to tempt you!

What do you love about pre-loved fashion?

The thrill! It is more than shopping, it’s treasure hunting! It’s thrilling to find a designer piece for a few quid, or a great piece of one of a kind vintage. It also means that you don’t subscribe to a particular style and you don’t look like everyone else as you never know what you will find thrifting.

Where is the best place to shop pre-loved?

I love car boot sales. You only have to find one or two people with things in your style and size and you come back with a new wardrobe for pennies. Plus, you can haggle. I also love charity shops and my fave online platform is Vinted or closed Facebook groups like Clobberswap.

What would your advice be to someone that wants to step into the world of pre-loved / charity shop purchases for the first time?

Go with an open mind. You are not going to be looking at curated ranges so you need to use your imagination. I use the vogue runway app and Pinterest to find outfit inspo. You have to be willing to improvise bit; if a designer is showing all fuschia the previous year, you know you can get ahead of the game and make thrifted outfits look current by shopping for in-trend colours and silhouettes. Also check out the pantone colours as they are great predictors of what will be the current colours in fashion.

Where can we find the best bargain? 

Car boot sales and out of town charity shops; usually hyper local charities as they tend to be cheaper because the business rates and rents are cheaper than city centre stores.

Do you have any tips on buying new clothes frugally?

I only buy sustainable brands now and would always try to buy preloved first. I buy new deadstock clothes from a charity shop called Newlife – they are end of line and store returns.

How do we avoid filling up our wardrobe with ‘bargains’ that we only ever wear once or twice? 

If I find I’m not wearing something I resell it or re-donate it. I think practising the 21 day rule helps with combating the payday millionaire cycle and helps stem impulse buys.

How can we create a more sustainable wardrobe in 2023?

Swapping or borrowing between friends and family. Definitely buying pre-loved and wearing your wardrobe, but taking time to restyle old pieces with accessories or by layering.

You have become a really vocal supporter of the b.kinda brand. What do you love about it and what would your advice be to someone looking to buy their first box?

Be open minded. You won’t be sent a full outfit but you will receive great pieces that can be integrated into your wardrobe and worn with what you have already. Take some time to play dress-up and experiment with your new pieces and find several different ways to style them with your existing wardrobe. I love the surprise and being pushed out of my comfort zone!

Finally, how can we follow you on social media?

I am duchessofthrift on Instagram and on TikTok – can’t wait to meet you!