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Repurposing A Career

Recent graduate turns passion for thrift stores into her livelihood 

When Brianna Furtado, ’20, transferred to Bridgewater State University as a sophomore, the goal was to earn a political science degree and then segue into law school. Instead, she decided to become an entrepreneur.

Today, you won’t find her in the courtroom, rather she’s the owner of Etica a vintage and upcycled online apparel shop.

“When I was in college, I never thought I’d be here,” she said. “Had I not done this – pursuing what I want to do, what makes me happy – I would have regretted it.”

Furtado grew up in Hooksett, New Hampshire; her mother is a first generation American and her father an immigrant. Both are of Portuguese decent. She is proud of her upbringing, as her parents taught her the value of hard work and that treasures can be found in unlikely places.

“We often went to yard sales and estate sales and as a kid I fell in love with thrifting,” she said. “I love that each piece has a history and that you get to make it new again.”

Etica’s roots can be traced to the time when Furtado was still a student at BSU. Together with a childhood friend, in February 2020, they launched Thrifty Revisions and traveled to thrift stores in search of apparel they could repurpose and sell through their platform.

There was a learning curve, but Furtado found she applied things learned in her classes. One course, Bear Culture, was particularly helpful.

“In that class I learned a lot about analysis and marketing,” Furtado said. “It turned me on to researching and taught me how to advance my marketing goals.”

As their company was getting off the ground, COVID-19 hit, and the women had to adjust.

“We could no longer go into the shops,” Furtado said.

Instead of giving up, they saw a new opportunity in designing clothes themselves. As the year went on, her friend decided to part ways with the business, but Furtado realized she had found her calling.

Not only was she addicted to the thrill of thrifting, but also recognized the potential impact that selling upcycled clothing can have on the environment as well as human rights issues.

“Buying uniquely thrifted pieces can help fight climate change and social injustices in the fashion industry,” Furtado said.

With that in mind she renamed the company Etica, honoring her mission and Portuguese roots. 

“Etica means ‘ethical’ in Portuguese, so it is the perfect name to represent ethical shopping and my background,” Furtado said.

The Bridgewater State alumna also donates clothing and a portion of sales to various causes including an LGBTQ foundation and Black Lives Matter.

“Thrifting isn’t just about selling clothing, or making an income, it can be much deeper than that,” Furtado said.

And word is spreading. Recently, the Boston-based band, Juniper, reached out to Etica and asked the shop to create a sustainable merchandise line for them.

“They said they wanted to use thrifted clothes because they are very much into learning and being educated on climate change,” Furtado said.

While Furtado isn’t exactly sure where her path will lead, for now she’s happy to learn as she goes, and encourages her BSU peers to live with no regrets.

“I’m 23 and still don’t really have a clue what my future holds, but I refuse to settle for a job I’m miserable in,” she said. “I want to live to work and not work to live. Etica helps me have my dream job where I get to give back while still doing the things I love.”

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