Life

Student’s pop-up clothing market side hustle making so much money after less than a year she may take uni break

Poppy set up her business from her uni halls (Collect/PA Real Life)
Poppy set up her business from her uni halls (Collect/PA Real Life) Poppy set up her business from her uni halls (Collect/PA Real Life)

A 21-year-old university student is considering a break from her studies after the sustainable pop-up clothing market she created in her free time grew into a £10,000 event with over 100 sellers in attendance in less than a year.

Poppy Collingwood-Cameron, who is studying history at the University of Bristol, launched her sustainable fashion market, Clothes Cycle, which hosts a range of stalls including clothing, music, food, drink, beauty, and even art classes, after feeling nostalgic about the way she used to shop with her friends.

Inspired by her love of vintage fashion, the 21-year-old, who did not know what career she wanted to pursue after her degree, now runs her successful business from her uni house share and tours the country with her pop-up events.

Poppy said: “I fondly remember hanging out at shopping centres and looking at clothes with friends when I was younger.

Poppy is now considering taking a break from uni as she focuses on her business (Collect/PA Real Life) (PA Real Life)

“With the death of the high street, the cost-of-living crisis and the focus on sustainability, the way people purchase clothes has changed, but shopping online has its own problems.

“You’ll find something you think is cool, but it arrives looking completely different and returning it isn’t always simple.

“I wanted to find a way for people to come together, find clothes they really like and also get a bargain.”

Originally from Alnwick, Northumberland, Poppy’s first event with 17 sellers took place in Bristol in November 2022.

Turning her clothes stalls into a full day experience, Poppy is hiring a DJ to play music and added booths where people can buy food, drink, art, take part in a clothes swap, and have tarot card readings (Collect/PA Real Life) (PA Real Life)

Setting up in a small hall underneath a church, Poppy said that half of the sellers there were friends she had asked to join.

She said: “Around half of them were friends I’d roped into it.

“It was very small and I really didn’t expect anything but it was really successful and the people who came seemed to enjoy it.

“I’d first hatched the idea during lockdown after thinking about how I used to enjoy the shopping experience with my friends when I was younger.

“I’d been selling clothes on Depop since I was 13 and that used to give me the biggest thrill.

“I just love the feeling of the more work you put into something, the more you get back.

“The way we shop has changed now and I think a sustainable fashion market is what’s missing – a full-day shopping experience.”

Inspired by nostalgia from her teens and following her first event’s success, Poppy got to work planning the next one.

Hosting another small pop-up in the same church hall in February 2023 with 25 sellers, Poppy started looking at organising a larger event.

Renting Victoria Baths in Manchester in March 2023, this time the 21-year-old hosted 80 sellers.

Poppy said: “It was quite a big jump from the last event, which only had 25 sellers, so it was unbelievably stressful.

Poppy tours the country with her pop-up events (Collect/PA Real Life) (PA Real Life)

“I was so nervous going into it but the turnout was incredible and at the bigger event, I made just under £10,000.

“Obviously, that’s a lot of money and it means I don’t have to do odd catering jobs like I was doing last year and I’m no longer in my student overdraft, which is great.

“I’m able to live more comfortably and put all my energy into Clothes Cycle.”

Now a profitable business, Poppy has been able to quit part-time catering work to focus solely on the company, with her brand ethos being about sustainability, affordability, fashion and community.

The majority of the clothes for sale are second-hand, with new clothes being ethically produced and are all from small businesses (Collect/PA Real Life) (PA Real Life)

The majority of the clothes for sale are second-hand, with new clothes being ethically produced and from small businesses.

“The next pop-up I’m doing is in London on June 25 and it’s the biggest one to date.

“I’ve got about 150 sellers coming and it’s super nerve wracking but really exciting,” Poppy said.

Turning her clothes stalls into a full day experience, Poppy is hiring a DJ to play music and added booths where people can buy food, drink, art, take part in a clothes swap, and have tarot card readings.

Poppy has said her family and friends have been very supportive of her business venture and were blown away by how quickly it has grown.

Now, the 21-year-old has just finished her second year of university but, as her business booms, she is considering a break to focus on Clothes Cycle.

She said: “I think my parents always knew I was going to do something like this, I’ve always been interested in fashion but my friends who helped out with the first event have been shocked with how much it’s grown.

“It keeps getting bigger and bigger and we have more pop-up events to plan throughout the year.

“We’re going to do more venues in August and September but those aren’t confirmed yet and I’m hoping to add more in before Christmas.

Renting Victoria Baths in Manchester in March 2023, the 21-year-old hosted 80 sellers (Collect/PA Real Life) (PA Real Life)

“I want to finish my degree but I also want to put all my time and energy into this so I’m thinking about taking a break from uni while I expand the events.

“It’s really exciting and I can’t wait to see where it goes.

“My hope is that this is just the start.”

Poppy’s next event will take place at Neasden Warehouse in London on June 25 – for more information visit: www.clothescyclemarkets.co.uk/dates-and-locations.