Vintage clothes, vodka bottle lamps and chemical-free beauty products, too.
While nobody particularly likes to lose their way when making it to their destination, there are certain perks to getting lost in the streets of a city, like stumbling upon an authentic antique store, a vintage shop or a thrift shop you otherwise wouldn't haven even known existed. Cairo's streets especially, are filled with these vintage and antique stores but are any of them sustainable? THE SPACE is Egypt's sustainable thrift shop in Maadi that initially started off as a project in a garage.
Founders, Karima Nashat, Kay Samahy, Manar Mabed, are the three teachers that started off selling a selection of second hand items and handicrafts from Nashat’s garage before they finally decided to open their own thrift shop. But that’s not when the seed for the thrift shop idea was originally planted.
“Two of us were working at Cairo American College (CAC) and we'd come up with a sustainable development project where we'd planned to set up a shop and students could sell sustainable stuff. Long story short, we did end up going through with it due to some complications,” says Nashat. “But the idea was still there so a few years later my husband suggested I start selling my lamps and jam from the garage so my that's what my partners and I did and it worked."
Nashaat's lamp project though had initially started when she’d stumbled upon a discarded vodka bottle on a beach in Marsa Matrouh.
“I was at the beach three summers ago and I’d found an empty bottle of vodka, one of the really pretty ones. I found another one the next day as well. And I was about to throw them both in the bin, but I thought why not create something with them. And that's when I started making the lamps.”
The idea behind THE SPACE is to sell items that either help the environment, the economy or society itself. Divided into three corners, a vintage second-hand clothing rack, an elegant junk section, and a local crafts section, the thrift shop still ensures that all the items they receive are in mint condition.
“We prefer classic stuff but we do get some brands. That being said we won’t always have what’s trending at the moment because it’s secondhand obviously," Nashaat tells CairoScene. "But anything we sell needs to be in perfect condition.”
Showcasing pieces from both artists and charities as well as those looking to sell their clothes, THE SPACE doesn't sell anything made out of plastic.
“So we feature works by several artists including El Hamy Naguib and Samer Farouk. Samer Farouk, who uses an old technique called Core Mosaic creates beautiful vases, where the art ends up in the interior of the piece. We have people who come in asking specifically for his pieces,” says Nashaat. "We've also got gorgeous hand-made embroidered bags and night gowns that we from this organisation called Handmade By Fayed. Basically it's women from Domyat who make them and it's a project that works towards giving them an income."
THE SPACE even has a toy section, where they sell old trucks, cars and trains made out of wood.
“Basically, as long as it's sustainable and everything is in good condition, we'll take it and sell it. So part of the profit goes to the person to whom it belongs and part of it goes to us. We're not limited to a certain type of product as we also sell Black Lotus Beauty products which are made without any chemicals."
Check out THE SPACE on Instagram.