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Local woman shops for those with tight budgets

Staff Photo: John Bohn Mary Lee, right, assists Stephanie Joldersma, left, of Lawrenceville, in shopping for nice clothes at reasonable prices. Lee advises her clients while shopping at stores such as the Goodwill in Lawrenceville.

Staff Photo: John Bohn Mary Lee, right, assists Stephanie Joldersma, left, of Lawrenceville, in shopping for nice clothes at reasonable prices. Lee advises her clients while shopping at stores such as the Goodwill in Lawrenceville.

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Staff Photo: John Bohn Mary Lee, right, assists Stephanie Joldersma, left, of Lawrenceville, in shopping for nice clothes at reasonable prices. They shop at the Goodwill store in Lawrenceville on a recent evening.

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Staff Photo: John Bohn Mary Lee, right, assists Stephanie Joldersma, left, of Lawrenceville, in shopping for nice clothes at reasonable prices. They shop at the Goodwill store in Lawrenceville, for clothing for Joldersma's daughter.

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Staff Photo: John Bohn Mary Lee, right, assists Joann Dauberger, left, in shopping for nice clothes at reasonable prices. They shop at the Goodwill store in Lawrenceville on a recent evening.

LAWRENCEVILLE -- Mary K. Lee of Lawrenceville is just like any woman -- she loves to shop, especially for a great deal, but she just never imagined she would -- or could -- create a business around it.

"It's not a huge business, but it's something caring women love to do for each other," she said. "We love to shop and if we can buy something dirt cheap, we're going to do that."

As the director at Old Peachtree Academy, Lee was sitting in her office with her boss when a client complimented her bracelet. She has purchased it at Goodwill for $3.

The next thing out if the client's mouth was, "You really need to shop for me."

And Trashion Fashion was born.

"I thought that was a great idea," Lee said. "I started talking to people and started picking up things for them."

For the past few months, Lee has been shopping for single women -- widowed or divorced, unemployed women seeking a job, those who need to furnish their homes and more.

Cathy Collins of Snellville has been a friend of Lee's for years. The two have always loved searching through the racks to find a bargain. Right now, the ladies are working on furniture instead of discounted duds.

"I'm redoing my office right now," Collins said. "We saw some bookcases and we're talking about how to utilize them, but we're always looking for clothes. We're girls -- we still love our clothes."

Lee is also working with Joanne Dauberger of Lawrenceville, who needs helps decorating her home.

"I'm a mother of 5-year-old twins, I work 55 plus hours a week and we've lived in our house for a year and I've never finished decorating," Dauberger said. "I need some personality. I don't have time to shop and I need help. We have the basics that we need, but we need the special touches."

Lee added, "And with small kids, she needs something durable, too. She doesn't have to pay a fortune because they're going to be climbing all over it."

Dauberger wants pieces with color and charisma.

"She's got the same taste that I do and she loves my eclectic look," Lee said. "So we're buying big urns that we can find and other things like that for her."

Even as the Trashion Fashion founder is hunting for knickknacks, she's still looking for clothes. Another one of her clients is Stephanie Joldersma of Lawrenceville, who needs help staying inside of her budget to buy outfits for her two children -- a 14-year-old daughter and 4-year-old son.

"I have a strange rule of not trying to wear the same thing," Joldersma said. "My husband gripes at me for how much I spend on clothes anyway, so this is a compromise. This is a great help."

It is no surprise that Lee has found her calling in thrifty shopping because she's been doing it most of her life.

"All through the years, I've always worn high heels -- never flats. And when you wear high heels, you want something that looks good with it -- something that's slenderizing," she said. "I've always put pieces together but I never had a lot of money to go into the big retails stores, like in the Avenue, and just buy whatever I wanted. I found out through friends of mine who were trying to save money, that we could go to Goodwill and find those same brand names, just pre-worn. We found so much stuff that our closets began to fill up."

Her closet is 90 percent filled with thrift store clothing. Imagine everything except for undergarments.

"I don't care how much money I save, I care how much money I spend," she said. "When you can buy something for $5, it really doesn't matter if you get tired of it. You can always give it back to the thrift store and buy something else. It wasn't a strain on the budget anymore, I got some great looking clothes."

For more information about Trashion Fashion, cost and shopping opportunities, email Lee at mkdirect@hotmail.com.