Hidden Gems: How 2 K-Staters turned thrift shopping into profit

Grace Hunter, sophomore in human development (left), and Brooke Evans, senior in horticulture, started Hidden Gems as a way to share their thrift store finds with a wider audience. (Courtesy Photo by Hidden Gems)

For Brooke Evans and Grace Hunter, their entrepreneurial journey started when they were just two regular Kansas State students who were both enrolled in the PHYS 101 course. Little did they know that nearly two years later, they would both be proprietors of a unique Manhattan business that gained campus-wide exposure.

Their business, Hidden Gems, started in the fall of 2017 when Evans, senior in horticulture, and Hunter, sophomore in human development, decided to turn their love for buying used clothing at thrift shops into a way to help women shop for unique clothing at an affordable price.

Hidden Gems began as an Instagram account, still in operation today at @hidden_gems, that features used clothing being modeled by friends of Evans and Hunter. The clothes can then be bid on by customers in the comment section before being sold.

Hunter said running Hidden Gems has brought her and Evans closer together as friends.

“We started Hidden Gems so Brooke and I could do something productive when we hung out, and we both loved thrifting, so we became fast friends,” Hunter said. “I wouldn’t trade the world for how the business has grown Brooke and I’s friendship.”

Hidden Gems had humble beginnings, with Evans and Hunter soliciting their products to the women in their sorority, but word spread quickly throughout the K-State campus as the business gained traction.

Since the start of their company, Evans and Hunter have sold over 300 products online, and they have even held two in-person pop-up shops in Manhattan this spring. The pop-up shops featured finds from Hidden Gems along with other local vendors who wanted to showcase their products.

Evans said Hidden Gems allows her to be creative and use her passion to serve others.

“It was a great creative outlet to style outfits and make creative decisions with posting and the pop-up shops,” Evans said. “One of our favorite things is to see girls out and about wearing Hidden Gems clothes. We can just remember when we found it at the thrift store and all the care we put into it, and it’s just so cool to see all of that work pay off.”

As the end of the semester draws near, however, the future of Hidden Gems is somewhat uncertain. The business has been continuously growing, and its owners hope to host even more pop-up stores in the Manhattan area. However, Evans will be graduating in May 2019 and will no longer be a co-owner of Hidden Gems.

“Since I will graduate this May, the future of Hidden Gems is totally up to Grace,” Evans said. “She may continue it, or she may not. But either way, I will cherish this little business that we created together. I’m so glad we inspired other people to buy their clothes secondhand, and even inspired some to start thrifting Instagram accounts of their own.”

I'm Monica Diaz and I graduated in May 2020 with a degree in broadcast journalism and Spanish. I severed in several roles while working for the Collegian, but most of my work focused on rebuilding the Collegian digital brand with an increased social media presence. I also worked on KKSU-TV and appeared as an anchor on MHK All Day in my last semester on campus. In my spare time, I enjoy a good cup of coffee and spending time with family. I have a passion for journalism because I believe that everyone deserves to have their voice heard.