Helping women look good without breaking the bank

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Zoe Blunden is helping women feel better about themselves one dress, or perhaps a nice top, at a time.

The Oamaru mother of two has realised a longheld dream by opening her own op shop in Oamaru’s Victorian precinct.

Nestled above the Harbour St Collective Cafe, Zushz stocks pre-loved clothing and jewellery, hand-picked by Mrs Blunden.

The shop has combined two of her passions – op shopping and helping women feel more confident and empowered.

“I’ve always wanted to have my own shop and show women you don’t have to buy expensive clothes to look awesome,” she said.

“It’s fun, it’s really fun, and I like seeing people’s faces when they find something .. they get so excited.”

Mrs Blunden moved to Oamaru with her family in 1987 and has a background in retail, including working at Style 358 for two years, and hospitality.

Secondhand shopping was shaking off its stigma, and more people were discovering the thrill of the op shop hunt, the unique expression of self, and making more sustainable fashion choices, she said.

Zushz was a word Mrs Blunden started using about 16 years ago, when she was on a low income and had to become more creative with meals and outfits – ”zushzing” them up.

It worked perfectly for what she was trying to achieve at her store, she said.

Zushz is open on Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Sundays. On Mondays, Tuesdays and Saturdays, Mrs Blunden can be found working downstairs at the Harbour St Collective Cafe.

She also works as a freelance wardrobe stylist, helping women find their own styles and “cull” their wardrobes.

“Fashion doesn’t have to be about the price tag, but about how you put it together,” she said.