College sophomore starts business with sister
Maeve Filbin | Thursday, August 23, 2018
Saint Mary’s College sophomore Giavanna Paradiso recently started a repurposed clothing business in collaboration with her older sister Chiara Paradiso, a 2018 graduate of the University of Toledo. According to their website, the self-named “Bleach Buddies” sell fun, one of a kind, custom-made recycled clothing under the brand name Redo By 2.
While the sisters design each piece with cutting-edge fashion in mind, they also keep their work loyal to the Redo By 2 mission to produce clothing that is “unique like you,” Chiara said.
“I think unique clothes are so expensive these days, and if you look out there there’s not that much variety that you can choose from in a store, so we both wanted to create something unique,” she said. “When someone has one of our shirts on, no one else in the entire world will have that exact same shirt, and that makes it unique, just like you because there is no one else in the world exactly like you.”
The Paradiso sisters started by catering to the gameday needs of college students, bleaching, cropping and embellishing old t-shirts from universities around the U.S. They said they decided to appeal to their younger, more cash-strapped customers by keeping prices low.
“Anything that’s not custom is under 30 bucks, and custom things are a little more expensive because Chiara hand-paints all the designs,” Giavanna said. “We wanted to keep it affordable, and we wanted to keep it available to as many people as we could.”
Outside of donations, it’s up to the sisters to stock Redo By 2 with materials. Since starting their company, Giavanna and Chiara have traveled to consignment and re-sale shops in their home state of Ohio and all over the country. The girls are regular customers at their local Goodwill in Columbus, Ohio, where the staff knows them by name and makes sure to point out new additions to the inventory, Giavanna said.
“We go all over the place. We’ve gone to Dayton, we’ve gone to Athens, we’ve gone to West Virginia, Michigan, Alabama [and] Colorado,” Chiara said. “You have to go all over and find that special diamond in the rough place. I like to get [clothes] at second hand stores because there’s a story to [them].”
Giavanna said she and her sister always enjoyed repurposing clothing since it resulted in relatively cheap fashion statements that reflected their more creative sides. Redo By 2 repurposes used clothing in the name of sustainability, and the Paradiso sisters said they wanted to keep their brand environmentally conscious by resurrecting old materials.
“It’s a big problem nowadays. There are landfills filled with clothes, which don’t break down easily. We upcycle old clothes because it’s better for the environment,” Giavanna said. “We thought we’d work with materials that were already available. Nobody was using them, so they were kind of unloved clothes. Then we make them prettier and better for everybody.”
The sisters have found the learning curve of owning and running a small creative business to be challenging but rewarding, Chiara said. In order to fulfill their shared dream of creating an upcycled fashion line, the Paradisos had to learn how to build a website, buy a domain name, maintain an inventory and accounting, obtain a vendor’s license and manage taxes.
“I’m still learning some of this,” Chiara said. “That’s one thing I really like about [running a business] is that every single day is different. You are constantly learning and challenging yourself.”
The Bleach Buddies also made discoveries about the chemistry of their namesake chemical product, witnessing varying results with different fabrics. Giavanna said the bleach ate through the denim on more than one occasion.
“There’s a lot of trial and error when it comes to the stuff that we do,” she said. “We’ve lost a lot of pieces along the way.”
Redo By 2 has grown beyond the two sisters, with the entire Paradiso family contributing to both the creative and business sides of the business. Their younger sister Vinni, a high school sophomore, has even stepped in to run the Redo By 2 Instagram. Friends and others have also helped expand the clothing line, volunteering to model pieces and promote the brand on social media.
“I am so lucky to have my family involved in supporting Giavanna and I 100 percent,” Chiara said. “Even when I didn’t have faith in myself, my family and friends always did. I can’t thank them enough for that.”
In the future, Chiara and Giavanna said they would love to give Redo By 2 a physical home with a store in the Short North Arts District of Columbus, Ohio. No matter how big their business grows, the pair said they’ll never forget how it all started.
“One day at church I listened to a visiting holy sister who said that we can’t stop doing what we want to do because we might think it’s too big,” Chiara said. “I came home from church and I said, ‘G, I want to go full in with you. Let’s make this happen.’”