By Elizabeth Liberatore / Photos by Mark Morgan / Shot on location at The Art of Ice Cream Experience, www.artoficecreamexperience.com
Within the past decade, consignment stores have truly taken flight. Television shows like Fashion Hunters, House of Consignment and Resale Royalty, aired and reshaped the way people viewed secondhand items. Additionally, shoppers are more conscious today about their spending habits, turning away from retail and seeking resale for the betterment of the planet (and their wallets). Plus, who doesn’t jump for joy when a luxurious label is marked at a fraction of the cost?
While the rest of the world was joining the consignment shopping bandwagon, Valley residents were already on board with the trend since 1991. For this, Phoenicians have My Sister’s Closet (www.mysisterscloset.com) to thank.
My Sister’s Closet is a recycled designer apparel, shoe and accessory boutique in Phoenix and, more recently, San Diego, California. It’s home to high-end brands like Louis Vuitton, St. John, Prada, Chanel, Armani, Gucci, and more. The best part? My Sister’s Closet sells everything 60 to 95 percent below retail price. And with nearly 500 items trickling in every day, there is always something new for shoppers to discover.
What originally started as one, 1,200-square-foot boutique located at the Town and Country Plaza Shopping Center in Phoenix (which still thrives today), has expanded to 14 total stores – including additional concepts My Sister’s Attic (recycled home furnishings) and Well Suited (men’s recycled apparel) – throughout the Valley and now stretching to The Golden State.
“Our store is like a giant candy store for sweet loving adults – you can find anything you need for your home, the man in your life or yourself. Each store is tidy, bright, organized and filled with very affordable treasures,” explains owner Tess Loo.
Yes, there are actual sisters behind this brilliant concept – three to be exact. After experiencing one too many dark, dirty and dingy consignment stores, Ann and Jennifer Siner were determined to open one that was cute, clean and current. That was 26 years ago. Today, Jennifer resides in California spearheading the three San Diego boutiques. Siner (Ann) and their other sister, Tess Loo, are the boss ladies at each local Valley location.
“I have always been very close with my sisters and to me it is a gift to work with them,” Siner says. “Each of us has a unique set of skills that fits a niche for the store concepts.”
Siner, as Loo describes, was always the smart one. Growing up, she would carry a briefcase and Loo donned the most stylish handbag. This is exactly how the sisters operate together as business partners – Siner, as the CEO and founder, is all about the numbers and operations whereas Loo employs her artistic abilities as the company’s chief fashion officer and director of all things creative.
“When we were little girls, Ann and I would play with our Barbies for hours, dressing them in the custom-made Chanel-esque suits that our grandmother knitted for us,” Loo reminisces.
“It’s kind of what we do now, too – we spend hours with clothing, at our stores and saving animals,” Siner adds.
The sisters, while different in their own respective ways, have a shared passion for community outreach. In 2015, they created their own certified charitable foundation, My Sisters’ Charities (www.mysisterscharities.org), which helps support causes near and dear to both of their hearts.
“We donate a generous percentage of profits from My Sister’s Closet, My Sister’s Attic and Well Suited to help people and animals without a voice,” Siner explains. “Our platform consists of abused and orphaned animals and empowering women to stand on their own after abusive relationships.”
My Sisters’ Charities Thrift Store (located at 4985 S. Alma School Road in Chandler) is just another component of their foundation. The store sells women’s and men’s clothing, accessories and home furnishings priced at just $1-$10. The items sold there are unsold merchandise taken from their other 11 Valley stores.
One hundred percent of the net profits from the thrift store sales go directly back into the community. The sisters have donated to Southwest Wildlife Conservation Center, Fresh Start Women’s Foundation, Banner Alzheimer’s Foundation, Arizona Humane Society, Animal Defense League of Arizona, Friends of Animal Care and Control, and Helping Animals Live On (HALO) Animal Rescue.
Loo and Siner have a zeal for protecting wildlife in peril both in the Valley and around the world. In addition to the aforementioned organizations, they have contributed greatly to The Nature Conservancy (a global cause), and Defenders of Wildlife (a national conservation nonprofit).
The duo also donates a lot of their time, creativity and positive energy to the community. Together, they have co-chaired countless philanthropic events in the Valley, including the Fresh Start Women’s Organization’s annual gala and the 2015 pARTy at Phoenix Art Museum. Loo has focused her creative powers to design logos, invitations and decor for many events she has been involved with.
As far as their event style goes, the sisters hardly spend over $50 on all their gala dresses, courtesy of their cute, clean and always on-trend fashion destination.
On Mach 25, the JW Marriott Scottsdale Camelback Inn Resort & Spa will set the stage for Arizona Humane Society’s annual Compassion with Fashion event, which turns 20 this year. Thus, this year's title is Compassion with Fashion XX. Each year, the event rallies more than 1,000 guests, most of whom are philanthropic pet lovers like Loo and Siner, to enjoy a luncheon and fashion show featuring Arizona Humane Society’s adoptable pets.
“Guest can expect auction items unrivaled from other events, fashion that everyone will love and can afford, and pets, pets, pets,” Siner says.
The sisters are co-chairing this monumental celebration as well as producing the fashion show for the fourth year in a row.
“The room will be bright, bold and happy and everyone will leave with a smile on their face, a skip in their step and joy in their hearts,” Loo elaborates.
The pair is excited to introduce 20 fashionista critters – colorful animal characters designed by Loo herself – to this year’s event. The critters (characters include Kitty Purry, Brad Pitbull, Snoop Dawg, Justin Beaver, Kim Barkdashion and more) will appear on the invitation and throughout the venue. There will also be a new program booklet, delicious treats and inspirational videos. Note: bring tissues because you’ll be moved to tears from all the love in the room.
“After all ... all we need is love. Sisterly love, puppy love, kitten love, and the love of giving back,” Siner says.
To learn more about the Siner and Loo, and the Compassion with Fashion XX event, visit www.azhumane.org.