“I love fashion and clothes - but what I love even more is people”

Rachel Boo is a sustainable fashion influencer. Here she shares her passion for charity shopping and tells us what she loves about volunteering with the Red Cross in Penarth, Wales.

With over 134,000 Instagram followers, Rachel Boo stands out for her original style, community spirit, and eye for a 100% pure silk bargain. 

Her love of pre-loved fashion began when she found herself spending more and more time in charity shops with her sons. 

“It was my twins that got me into charity shopping. They are severely autistic, with complex needs. One son is fixated with books and loves seventies music. It was the same with his brother's obsession with junk jewellery.”

On the lookout for books, CDs, and DVDs for her boys, Rachel became a regular at her local charity shop. Whilst there, she would try on any clothes that caught her eye. Soon enough, she was hooked on second-hand fashion and putting together thrifted looks. 

Rachel’s journey as a Red Cross volunteer also began as a happy coincidence. 

Gemma, the Penarth Red Cross shop manager, noticed Rachel on a charity shop fashion group on Facebook. She invited Rachel to come down to the shop and have a go at window dressing. With a knack for colour and design, creating themed window displays turned out to be a dream role for Rachel. 


The thrill of discovery

With never-worn-before bargains and even designer items tucked into the racks and shelves, charity shopping becomes more than just a sustainable alternative - it's a treasure hunt. One of Rachel’s most special finds includes a perfectly-fitting jacket, snagged for just £15. 

“I took it home and looked up the label. It was Caroline Charles - one of Princess Diana’s favourite designers. This jacket was worth £1000 in the eighties and it had never been worn!”

If you’re lucky or know where to look like Rachel, you can also stumble across more luxury fabrics like pure silk or 100% cashmere in charity shops for just a fraction of their original price.


I love seeing the excitement on people’s faces when they find something special. It’s about cherishing something, treasuring something, not chucking stuff away. That’s why I get passionate about charity shopping! 

Express yourself

Charity shopping has helped Rachel to curate a strong individual style that expresses exactly who she is – to herself and her thousands of followers. 

“That's why I dress in charity shops - because I want to be individual. I want to be me,” she adds. 

Her unique style and creative flair for putting an outfit together with second-hand finds is what’s led to her success on Instagram as a sustainable fashion influencer. On the platform she shares her outfits, style tips, and fashion inspirations.  

One simple style tip? Wear a dress! 

"You don’t have to think about your top half or bottom half—it’s so easy. And a man’s suit will always look cool on a woman."

Beyond fashion: it's the people

Volunteering in the shop has given Rachel a better understanding of how charity shops run as businesses, with their own expenses and overheads.

But it’s clear that the shop is not only a business; it plays a vital role in the community, Rachel explains: “I love fashion and clothes - but what I love even more is people. And that’s what you get in charity shops – you get to know the regulars. I love finding out people’s stories.”

The joy of giving back

That’s the power of kindness, isn’t it? Instead of take, take, take, you’re giving back to society.”

As a sustainable fashion haven, expression of individuality, and community connection, Rachel’s role at the shop plays a huge part in her daily life. She encourages anyone who has a few spare hours to consider volunteering too.

If you’re not working, you can think, ‘It’s my volunteering day today,’ and that’s good for your mental health and wellbeing. And you’re always going to have the good feels because you’re giving something back." 


Interested in becoming a volunteer?

Whether you're interested in working in a charity shop like Rachel, supporting someone as a wheelchair volunteer, or responding to emergencies, we’ve got a wide range of volunteer roles at the British Red Cross to suit everyone.

Join the world's emergency responders and find a volunteer role that suits you today.