Thrift For Good is led by Jennifer Sault, a powerhouse who has made it her mission to be the guiding light for lives engulfed in darkness. Misbaah Mansuri charts her inspirational journey
In a bid to rehome preloved items to reduce waste and help children around the world, Jennifer Sault – the founder of ‘Thrift For Good’ is relentlessly working towards spreading happiness and light. The second-hand charity shop that donates 100% of its profits to international children’s charities continues eyeing on spreading more love and light, as we go forward. The founder’s vision and unparalleled dedication that has propelled ‘Thrift For Good’ to great heights radiates through our conversation with her.
The dream to spread hope and happiness
Jennifer grew up in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, and moved to Dubai at the end of 2011 after finishing university. “After ten years, this is home,” she remarks.
Ever since she was a child, Jennifer always witnessed family members involved with fundraising for projects, which inspired her to follow the path.
When she was 14 years old, she started an initiative with friends in High School called Overseas Educational Fund. She held various fundraisers in the school to raise money to build and sustain a daycare in the Northern Philippines through the International Association for Transformation. “It was a dynamic group of volunteers and quickly became a platform for leadership training in my school. I am so proud that it continues today, nearly 20 years later,” she states.
From the joy she found in herself running the initiative, Jennifer knew that she wanted her career to be helping children overseas to see their full potential. After high school, Jennifer took a gap year to volunteer in Nepal and Tanzania, and there was no turning back from there. “I studied International Development Studies and a Masters of Philanthropy and Non-Profit Leadership and continued to volunteer and work with a series of non-profit organizations, primarily focused on fundraising and grant-giving,” she shares.
The joy of giving
Jennifer’s latest role before Thrift for Good was with Gulf for Good, a local UAE non-profit organization that supports sustainable charity projects for children by promoting wellbeing through life-changing experiences, adventure challenges, and fitness opportunities. “Almost daily, supporters would call offering to gift their items and volunteer their time, which didn’t fit into Gulf for Good’s mission or capacity. Therefore, on the weekends, we started selling second-hand items at flea markets to contribute additional funding to Gulf for Good’s beautiful children’s charity projects. This kept growing until we needed sponsored storage and committed to regular weekend markets,” she highlights.
In 2019, she took the decision to leave Gulf for Good and, with the support of many other wonderful volunteers, built Thrift for Good. COVID changed the landscape for the organization and pushed it online. “This was wonderful in a way because it is through Instagram that we found and built our community of support. Soon after, we opened our first retail store on the Palm Jumeirah in the Golden Mile Galleria Building 8, which has been met with wonderful success,” Jennifer contends.
The turning point for Thrift For Good was opening the first store, wherein almost overnight, the monthly revenues went from AED 10,000 to AED 90,000. “We were suddenly able to contribute AED 50-60,000/month. Then, as word got out about us, the support grew: more gifted items, which meant fantastic and quickly moving stock and soon a team of over 100 dedicated volunteers that made all of the magic happen,” she reveals.
In November 2021, Jennifer and her team opened the second new store in Times Square Center. “It has enabled us to raise even more. Each month, we are improving and growing. There are so many achievements, it’s difficult to choose just one,” says a chuffed Jennifer.
She notes that there are too many wonderful people involved to thank individually. “None of this could have happened without our small but incredible staff, however – Sarah Clements, our Retail Manager, Pao Ying Zhi, our Marketing Manager, and Michelle Haddrell, our daytime Team Leader. Their passion and hard work have inspired so many to be involved, all of our volunteers, donors, and customers. This community initiative truly wouldn’t work without each and every single one of them and the support we receive daily, the enthusiastic founder asserts.
Furthermore, she reveals that she gets immense inspiration from the children’s charity projects she is working for. “I am inspired by the individuals that are on the ground taking care of the children and doing such beautiful work. If I am to name just one individual, I am inspired by James Berry, the founder of Larchfield Children’s Home in Tanzania – a children’s home in Mkuranga Tanzania with 30 beautiful children and growing. He tirelessly advocates for these children and is simply making magic happen. We have to date contributed AED 125,500 to this project,” shares Jennifer.
The organization has had to pave the way with being a zero-waste organization, but Jennifer’s dedication towards it has only shone on as she has scaled it to great heights despite the various roadblocks that Thrift For Good has had to navigate. “It was difficult to find the right partners for recycling end of life materials in particular, but we found that now with Kiswa UAE,” she adds.
Noticing that clothing waste in the UAE is still a considerable problem, Jennifer now wants to fuel Thrift for Good’s growth towards successfully operating in every community center to have its maximum impact. “I’m so proud that we have brought thrifting to the UAE and it has been met with so much love and support. We have rehomed over 65,000 items from our Palm store alone and have contributed over AED 500,000 to Gulf for Good’s projects in Lebanon, Peru, Tanzania, and the Philippines. This has been made possible by over 300 volunteers since we began. Our next small step will be to build our online shop to enable easier access to second-hand online. I hope we can continue to grow and affect change on a wide scale,” a grateful Jennifer remarks.