After seeing a lack of secondhand retailers stocking affordable, fresh threads in the Twin Cities, artist Aizia Durand and R&B singer Saint LaRon decided to start their own business.
Located in St. Paul, TEN is an intimate thrift shop intent on restyling Minnesota, one client at a time. The split-level store features a colorful, retro, and eclectic array of men's and women's streetwear that changes daily.
LaRon previously resold clothing online as a hobby, and Durand’s background is in retail management and visual merchandising. They opened the space in May – essentially extending their closets to others.
“I just want people to feel like they can be themselves, especially here in Minnesota,” Durand said.
How do the appointments work?
The TEN Facebook page provides a phone number to set up a shopping visit. This approach allows the owners to give their undivided attention to each customer. “It makes people feel like they are coming into something very exclusive," LaRon explained. "And they are, because all this stuff is hand-picked, one-by-one by us."
The displays and ambience help influence the outfits people piece together, and many guests pick out articles of clothing in totally different styles from the pieces they came in wearing.
“I always love finding things at thrift stores and wondering who it’s going to go to and seeing how they are going to style it," Durand said. "Just the whole process is really satisfying, because we’re really not thinking about ourselves."
A good portion of the merchandise – Tommy Hilfiger, Calvin Klein, Champion, Harley Davidson, Guess, Puma, Nike, among others – will set you back $10 or less.
That price point is personal for LaRon. For him, back-to-school shopping meant heading to the thrift shop in attempt to find cheap, yet cool threads. “Our main goal is to be able to supply these kids and it makes me emotional a little bit, because growing up I didn’t really get to have a lot of things,” he said, tearing up at the memory.
Who's wearing TEN's merchandise?
TEN has also built a lot of buzz via its Instagram presence. Local music fans will recognize styled shoots with hip-hop artists like Allan Kingdom, Lexii Alijai, Aubrey King, and Shreeya Preeti.
Not only does it show off the unique flair of the business, but the cachet of the products. Featuring Sean John logo tees to Taylor Swift 1989 graphic tees, their photo shoots provide a one-of-a-kind style guide.
“I think it’s simple," Durand said. "We're both born and raised in St. Paul, so how could we not want to give back to other artists here when we are artists ourselves.”
In just four months, their Instagram has exceeded 2,000 followers and their Facebook page is well on its way to reaching that same mark. The pair said over 1,000 customers have visited the store. One Facebook reviewer wrote, "Loved the clothes. Loved the vibes. Loved the people. Will definitely be going back."
“Without the people here, TEN isn’t a thing," LaRon said." We’ve had so many customers come in and we could have had zero, so that kind of speaks for itself. He added that their fast-moving growth is only a signal for them to work harder. They plan to open up another shop in Minneapolis and to add more interactive aspects, like an in-store photo booth and live-streaming interactions in the store.
“We just keep it real, this is an environment where you’re not being judged," he said. "Anyone is welcome to come in here, and that’s why I think it’s been such a special place."