For eight years, sisters Summer (Pierson ’99) Walters and Kate (Pierson ’03) Stover have built their company on the idea of “Reduce. Reuse. Resell.”
My Sister’s House, a pop-up consignment sale hosted by the two Wildcats with a passion for giving, got a running start by winning the Springboard Idea Challenge sponsored by ACU’s Griggs Center for Entrepreneurship and Philanthropy.
The sisters came up with the idea after Summer’s first child was born. The new mom had gone through a variety of clothing sizes during her pregnancy and afterward, and she began looking for ways to change out her wardrobe without breaking the bank.
“I think the concept resonates with people, to be able to recycle what you don’t need and then buy what you do need,” Summer said. “Reduce by keeping only what you love. Reuse what you find to update your look. Resell the rest.”
Every year, the sisters host two sales – one in the spring and one in the fall with the last sale racking up more than 2,000 transactions. Each sale attracts between 200 and 300 consigners, who bring in thousands of items cumulatively to pack 16,000 square feet of space with jewelry, home goods and clothing.
“One of the things that attracts people to the sale is the variety,” Kate said. “You can find quality clothing and accessories from stores we don’t have in Abilene and also find a unique piece of antique furniture or vintage Fiestaware. We never know what people are going to bring, so it’s always fun to see it all come together.”
Though My Sister’s House has grown steadily over the last few years, the consignment sale is a part-time job for the two mom. Both earned their education degrees from ACU and are teachers, Summer at St. John’s Episcopal school in Abilene and Kate at Magnolia High School in Magnolia, Arkansas.
As education majors, Summer and Kate never thought they would run their own business, but Griggs Center director Dr. Jim Litton, encouraged them to participate in Springboard, a competition hosted by the College of Business Administration. Springboard has awarded more than half a million dollars to prospective entrepreneurs over the past decade.
In 2013, Summer and Kate won the community division.
“The awards dinner happened to fall at the beginning of our spring sale, so we had to leave our volunteers during drop-off to attend,” Summer said. “When we were announced as the winners of our category, we were just so floored. It made us feel legitimate. The judges saw the value in it. They believed in us. It gave us the confidence to grow.”
Summer said they used the money to invest in computers and barcode systems, and they bought racks to add menswear to the sales.
Kate said neither of them anticipated how much the sale would grow.
“We started out small and grew gradually,” Kate said. “After each sale, we’ve had to assess what worked well and what changes needed to be made to improve for the next one. We’ve had job changes and moves and had to adjust accordingly, but it’s always sweet to get to see the community of volunteers and consignors and shoppers who come back every sale and now know each other.”
The duo uses leftovers from their sales to give back to families in need, including donations last year for Hurricane Harvey relief efforts.
“We are so grateful to be able to do what we do,” Summer said. “To give truckloads of clothes to people in need is a huge blessing. We believe in shopping responsibly, simplifying, giving used items a second life and supporting one another in the process.”