The first question you have when you stumble across Noihsaf Bazaar is probably how to pronounce it: “Noise-hoff.” “Noose-haf.” It doesn’t matter, according to the resale site’s founder, Kate Lindello. When creating the Instagram handle in 2013 to resell clothing she loved but never wore, she wasn’t focused on an easily marketable name. “I think it’s so funny my company has this crazy-hard name to spell and pronounce,” she shares. What matters is the meaning of the name: the word fashion spelled backward. “Fashion in general is intimidating and, being from the Midwest, is something I loved but never really felt a part of. Noihsaf Bazaar is for people like me,” Lindello says.
Maybe you’ve never heard of Noihsaf Bazaar—the secondhand site curated not by A.I. but by Lindello and her team in shivering Duluth, Minnesota—but your fashionable friend who manages to pull off prairie chic in New York probably found it through Instagram years ago. Noah Kim, a copywriter in Southern California, refers to Noihsaf as “ideal middle ground between overly curated and underorganized.” He heard of it via word of mouth at a Twin Peaks concert. Another devotee, Valencia Shanelle, found Noihsaf after Lindello purchased a custom balaclava from Shanelle’s store. “I always creep on my customers a little, and I discovered her site,” she says.
Lindello started Noihsaf almost 10 years ago while struggling with postpartum depression in Duluth’s coldest winter on record. Going through clothes she loved but never wore, she took to her phone. “It was 2013, and Instagram was just a lot of sepia squares of lattes. I thought it would be easy to create a handle to list some of my items for sale,” she says. Her own pieces started moving, and almost immediately friends asked Lindello to list on their behalf. Soon a community of like-minded, well-dressed individuals flocked to the account, submitting clothing with the hopes of it passing Lindello’s curatorial eye. Gretchen Jones, strategic business advisor and 2010 Project Runway winner, became an early adopter. “Finding an outlet to score covetable items that were hard to find even at full price via a tight-knit community of shoppers was refreshing,” Jones said. To this day, Noihsaf’s commitment to community, plus a tight curation, remains its bread and butter.
Shopping on Poshmark is painful. The RealReal can feel overly curated. eBay’s a mess. But Noihsaf is the elusive, Golidlocks-just-right amalgamation of selective and delightful. Without an app, which Lindello calls “not necessary and expensive to maintain,” or V.C. funding—“you don’t have as much creative freedom when only the bottom line matters”—in the near future, the site is free to grow at its community’s pace. Users upload their pieces to the site, complete with detailed measurements and clear images, and await a green light from Noihsaf. Once listed, shoppers can comment, make offers, and receive their purchases directly from sellers. With a team spread across Minnesota, Wisconsin, and New York, Lindello manages to maintain Noihsaf’s silver bullet—its coveted curation—through good old-fashioned instinct. Highlighting independent brands, plus well-made basics from more recognizable labels, has always been the site’s purpose. Descriptions under listed items read like charming Instagram captions. Browsing feels like a spin through an indie-label wonderland. Even the site’s blog features an array of sellers from all walks of life.