Sales associate Moonlite Phillips and manager/stylist Christina Solis

Instead of throwing out all the costumes from your last film or television project, why not give them to someone who will actually wear them?

That’s the concept behind ricRACK, a New Orleans non-profit thrift shop and sewing studio that collects used wardrobes from the entertainment industry and re-sells them for affordable prices.

RicRACK uses the profits from its thrift shop to fund its sewing studio, where employees teach people of all ages the fundamentals of sewing. It was founded 11 years ago by Alison Parker, and since Parker retired last year, Christina Solis has taken over as stylist and store manager alongside executive director Lizz Freeman Kelly.

ricRack Is a Non-Profit With a Mission

Dedicated to inspiring others to embrace entrepreneurship, sustainability, and creative expression through sewing, the company also offers the local community in New Orleans an affordable place to shop.

“We just take stuff from movies that are left over that wouldn’t have a home if it wasn’t for us, and we resell everything at a very affordable rate,” Solis tells MovieMaker. “We’re not trying to be the cool kids in the thrift industry. We’re just trying to fund our studio. So a lot of people in the city are just like, ‘It’s cool that I can still go get a $5 T-shirt and $10 jeans and they’re good quality.'”

Since ricRACK is a non-profit organization, “everything has to go back into the community,” Solis adds.

Whether it’s clothing swaps, making masks for New Orleans residents during the pandemic, or partnering with local schools and community organizations to offer sewing classes, “we’re always doing something,” she says.

RicRACK doesn’t just work with film and television productions after they wrap — it also helps create costumes to use during filming. The organization recently worked with the upcoming short film “F’ckn Nuts,” supplying the production with fabric to make their costumes. MovieMaker is proud to support “F’ckn Nuts” through MovieMaker Production Services.

Volunteers at the ricRACK warehouse. Founder Alison Parker at center with hat.

Some of the shows that have recently donated wardrobes to ricRACK include Queen Sugar and Interview With the Vampire. If you’re interested in donating wardrobes from film, television, and theater productions, you can contact ricRACK by filling out the donation Google form at ricracknola.com/donate.

The organization holds community textile recycling days in which local New Orleans residents can bring in unused fabric and clothing scraps, which ricRACK turns into storm drain filters through its partnership with the Lower 9th Ward Center for Sustainable Engagement and Development.

Solis says founder Alison Parker’s original mission when she dreamed up ricRACK was to bring the trade of sewing back to the younger generation.

“She knew that they took sewing out of schools and kids aren’t getting that opportunity to learn that trade. Unless you were exposed to it with your grandmother or your mom or at home, you’re not really getting exposed to this trade at all whatsoever,” Solis says.

When a young person takes a sewing class at ricRACK, they’re not just learning how to sew — they’re learning how to give new life to used textiles that might have otherwise ended up in the trash.

“She just wanted to teach the trade of sewing. That was really important to her. And also just keeping stuff out of landfills and trying to show people that you can repurpose things,” Solis adds. “You can repair your jeans — you don’t have to just throw everything out because it has a hole or because it’s worn down. There’s always something that you could do with it.”

Main Image: Volunteers at the ricRACK warehouse. (Founder Alison Parker is at the center, wearing a hat.)