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We Go Thrift Diving with Serena Appiah

Thrift stores, charity shops, dollar stores and pound worlds - whatever you call them, we’ve all probably had a good look round one looking for some second hand style. Meet Serena Appiah, mother, wife, blogger and professional thrift diver. Here she talks to us about creativity, confidence and refurb projects.


1. You seem to be one of the most resourceful people we’ve come across. How’s lockdown affected this?

I've been very thankful that the COVID-19 stay-at-home orders here in Maryland have not affected my ability to work or be creative at all. I spent a lot of time doing gardening projects, but I also made an amazing DIY Tic Tac Toe board with snack storage on the inside, which was soooo fun to make! Thankfully, big box stores are considered essential businesses so projects that I had lined up prior to the pandemic could still get completed with quick trips to the store for items. Everything else I needed I could order online. 

What the pandemic did, though, was give me a little breathing room to create without the rush of everyday life. Life slowed down. While I was still busy, I didn't feel overwhelmed by my gardening or crafting projects. I felt like I could complete the projects and enjoy the process instead of rushing to meet a deadline. 

2. You once said that losing your job was one of the best things to happen to you. Did it also unleash some of your own creativity and confidence?

I don't think losing my job due to irreconcilable differences with my supervisor unleashed my creativity. My creativity was already unleashed even while working that 9-to-5 job--which was the reason why I was up late evenings and weekends! I was painting furniture, doing DIY projects, and posting about it on my blog and YouTube channel. My goal was to become self-employed and be a full-time blogger, but I wasn't sure how that would be possible with all the financial responsibilities I had. But once I lost my job, opportunities started to open up! Paid blogger jobs landed in my inbox, but I also took control of the situation and reached out to brands and got paid collaborations. And because I did great work, more opportunities came. My confidence started to soar even more and I knew that creating, inspiring, and teaching was what I was meant to do.

3. What’s your favourite part of any refurb project?

Great question! My favorite part of what I do--whether I am refinishing a piece of furniture, or doing a room makeover, is seeing it come together just as I imagined. Right now I am planning a walk-in closet makeover and building the closet organizers from scratch. The scary part is not knowing if I accounted for every step of the build. But the fun part is once things get rolling! Sometimes I run into challenges, but I enjoy the challenge of working through problems and figuring out solutions.

4. Do your sons and husband see the value in giving things a second lease of life?

My husband and sons think I am crazy for what I do! :) They see the value in the fact that I don't spend a fortune to make our home comfortable, but they're overall not impressed with many of my projects. I have learned that DIY isn't their cup of tea or hobby of choice, which is why I am thankful for my community of thrift divers that enjoy my projects. Over the years, though, I do have to say that my husband has been more supportive of what I do, but he probably wouldn't mind if I entirely switched careers. As long as I was happy and able to pay my share of the monthly bills! :)

5. You’re a lover of all tools - what do you find Sugru to be most useful for?

Sugru has many uses, but its most usefulness for me was for creating a mold of a trim on a wooden vanity I was painting. The trim was broken and could not be matched. So I used Sugru to fill in the couple of inches of trim, blending it in to look like the surrounding trim. Then I used a primer over it, then painted it. It worked very well! I am excited to see how else I can use Sugru in my workshop and home!