Anna Imwalle has turned a passion that started with third-grade sewing lessons into a clothing business, while maintaining her status as a full-time student.
Imwalle, a fourth-year marketing graduate, owns the online vintage store RVVLshop and mainly sells women’s vintage clothing, in addition to its own handmade clothing made from recycled materials. Imwalle said she started the business in 2016 as a junior in high school after shopping at thrift stores.
“I just started going to thrift stores to try and find materials to make clothes because it’s cheaper than buying materials from a craft store,” Imwalle said. “Eventually I had too many clothes and sewing projects that I decided to start selling them.”
Imwalle said she started her business secretly and completely on her own, but later had to tell her parents because she was underage and needed them to log into her Etsy account.
After orders started picking up, Imwalle extended his Etsy shop to his website and started building it. instagram presence too. Since then, RVVLshop has amassed more than 10,000 subscribers, in part through influencer marketing, she said.
Imwalle used to reach out to influencers on Instagram whose style she liked or those she thought had good artistic sense, offering to send free clothes.
“They could wear it and hopefully tag me on Instagram,” Imwalle said. “If you just have one really valuable person who puts together a really good outfit and tags you, you can get a lot of followers out of that, and people will start to think your brand is cool.”
When she started taking classes at Ohio State, Imwalle said she faced challenges running RVVLshop from her dorm due to lack of space and time. To remedy this, Imwalle said he recruited his younger sister, Claudia Imwalle, a high school student, to help pack and send orders from their hometown.
But when the pandemic hit, Anna Imwalle said she was able to return home and had more time to devote to the business.
“When we had to go home I had so much more free time and was home with so much more space and my sewing machine and everything,” Anna Imwalle said. “I think it was really good because it got me back to the reason I started doing it in the first place, which was creating my own clothes and trying to design clothes.”
The company’s name refers to the word “revival,” which means taking clothes and revitalizing them into something new, Anna Imwalle said.
“She can find things in the thrift store that she might see potential for, and then make them what she thinks she or someone else might wear,” Claudia Imwalle said. “Like a super long dress, she’ll cut a skirt and top or something that she thinks is cute but might not have come off the rack right away.”
RVVLshop serves as both a creative outlet for Anna Imwalle and a way for her to help protect the environment, she said.
Recycling and reselling clothing helps reduce textile waste that ends up in landfills. Claudia Imwalle said her sister also donates a percentage of her Earth Day sales to organizations focused on environmental protection.
“That’s why I tried to turn to second-hand because it’s always a way to have fun with your style at an affordable price without causing so much damage to the environment,” said Anna Imwalle .
Anna Imwalle said she believes small businesses like hers can inspire big brands to adopt more sustainable practices, such as Levi’s, which Anna Imwalle said recently started selling recycled denim.
Ana Kasumova, a third-year neuroscience major, said she attended the Ohio Vintage Fest in December 2021 and shopped at RVVLshop.
“When I first came to her shop I was really really surprised how good everything was and to see the range of sizes she had was also quite appealing because there is no wasn’t just acting size six or whatever,” Kasumova said. “She was actually quite inclusive of vintage clothing, which I think is harder to find too.”
After graduation, Anna Imwalle said she plans to pursue her love of fashion in San Francisco, where she will work for Gap and continue to run her business.
Anna Imwalle launched her new handmade collection, Cherry treeon her website Wednesday at 10 a.m., which she says features handmade cherry-patterned clothing made from 100% recycled materials.