Erin Kang (’23)

April 10, 2023


Erin Kang (’23) finds identity through creativity, such as by upcycling clothes. (Jiwoo Lee (’24))

When life was put on hold and the pandemic struck the entire world, people searched for any way to maintain a hold on normalcy. Spring of 2020 was a time of great stress and worry, yet it also opened the door for self-discovery and self-care. For Erin Kang (‘23), quarantine was a period where she was truly able to unleash her creativity.
To provide more insight on Kang, she is a senior at Cherry Hill High School East with big aspirations for the future. When she was in fourth grade, Kang moved from Deptford and attended Cooper Elementary School, followed by Rosa Middle School.

Kang spent her middle school career immersing herself in the arts. She enjoyed taking part in the Rosa art club, and outside of school she took art and flute classes. However, this all changed beginning the period of quarantine that accompanied COVID-19.

With newly found free time, Kang sought to find ways to unleash her inner creativity. Prior to the pandemic, she loved art; however, school and other responsibilities held her back. With extra time on her hands, Kang discovered the concept of “upcycling clothes” on social media. This is the process of taking older clothes and reconstructing them into something new and unique. Kang immediately took a keen interest in this type of art and began by using older clothes that she and her family already owned. She explained how she “would steal [her] dad’s jeans and bleach them and turn them into shorts.”

After sharpening her skills, Kang began to “thrift flip.” This involves the same process as “upcycling,” but it involves using thrifted clothes. Kang expressed how “[she] [goes] to the thrift store and pick[s] up any clothes [she] can upcycle. It’s challenging because you have boundaries you have to work with, and you have to be really creative with it.” From the start, Kang was a natural. She has been able to thrift flip various items such as a pair of jeans which she upcycled into a corset.

What makes Kang’s talent and interest in thrift flipping so unique is that she is completely self-taught. Before she began thrift flipping, she had never taken a sewing class or watched “how-to” videos on the Internet. She simply found inspiration, and it was all by instinct from there.

Aside from thrift-flipping in her free-time, Kang is involved in a variety of clubs at East. In 2020, prior to the pandemic, Kang started the Hospital Support Club with a friend. She is the co-president of the club and is dedicated to supporting local hospitals through community service. Kang is also a member of the Chinese Student Association and the Korean Culture Club, and she plans to participate in Multicultural Day events for both. Additionally, Kang plays the flute for East’s ensemble, and she is a member of the All South Jersey Symphonic Band.

Although these clubs help to shape Kang’s identity, she said her “creativity truly defines her.” She is interested in pursuing a degree in architecture in college which will serve as an additional creative outlet. Kang is looking forward to what the rest of senior year has to hold, and she plans to thrift flip whenever she has the opportunity.

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