Way of life becomes research


by Rachel Smith

Senior Lauren Hodson took her hobby of frugality and transformed it

into a lifestyle that’s apparent in her everyday clothing,

decisions, and even in her academics.


2010 Hodson made a New Year’s resolution to incorporate at least

one item from Goodwill into her wardrobe, also known as the

“Goodwill Challenge.” For the almost two years, she has kept this

commitment and even shares her trendy outfits on her blog The Java

Journal that reaches viewers in more than 20 countries at

“text-decoration: underline;”>http://enjoyjavajournal.blogspot.com/.


blog has more viewers in Russia and Slovenia than in America,”

Hodson said. “It’s like a memoir. It’s something I’m doing in my

life that can affect others and that others can relate to.”

Hodson was raised in a frugal home. Her mother was a Goodwill

shopper, not out of necessity, but as a lifestyle choice which

Hodson maintains and is proud of today.

“Shopping at Goodwill is not something I’m ashamed of,” Hodson

said. “It’s a hobby I don’t hide. It’s an interest I’m not afraid

to share. When people say, ‘that’s cute where’d you get that?’ I

always say Goodwill.”

Hodson said that some people are shocked when she reveals she shops

at Goodwill and tell her she doesn’t have to reveal this seemingly

private information. Being frugal isn’t something Hodson does

because she has to; she does it because she enjoys it.


get a form of a high and satisfaction from shopping at Goodwill and

saving money without having to sacrifice the everyday luxury of

fashion,” Hodson said.

Lauren’s passion for Goodwill shopping has inspired some of her

fellow Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority sisters and defied common

stereotypes many Americans believe about Goodwill and Goodwill



many other people, I had associated Goodwill as a cheaper clothing

option,” senior Emily Van Roekel said. “[Goodwill is a place] in

which people can find their uUgly Christmas sweater or a routine

shopping spot for people with a lower economic status which has

become especially common in the current economy.”


noticing Hodson’s fashionable outfits and discovering the majority

of them were purchased at Goodwill, Van Roekel’s view, along with

the views of many other sorority sisters changed.


think everyone can attest to Lauren’s awesome style and I, for one,

would never have guessed that her primary shopping store was

Goodwill,” Van Roekel said. “[Goodwill] is now a routine stop

included in my shopping excursions. The [Kappa] girls will plan

Goodwill shopping trips together and ask Lauren to help them

‘Goodwill shop’ because her trained eye is able to find things that

some of us, myself included, cannot see. It’s a talent.”


trained eye for great deals has allowed Hodson to make unbelievable

purchases, such as a Givenchy purse priced up to $1000 for $3.38 or

normally $70 patent leather snake skin Nine West heels for $4.38,

all of which she documents on her personal blog.

“First thing I do when I walk into Goodwill is look at what tags

are half off,” Hodson said. “Then I look at color, texture and

quality, not just style. Clothing items can have a name brand and

look horrible, and then when you try on the knockoff it looks


Hodson has recently focused her frugal thinking into her academics.

For her senior project, Hodson has begun studying how frugality is

demonstrated in Mildred Kalish’s novel “Little Heathens.”


main goal was to research something that interests me and that I

can learn something from,” Hodson said. “It’s something enjoyable.

My project focuses on country life with an interest in frugal

living; frugality and rural poverty.”

Assistant English Professor, Lauren LaFauci, aids Hodson in her

senior project. LaFauci watched Hodson’s project develop from her

personal love of frugality into a structured academic research


“Lauren’s project initially stemmed from her own interest in

frugality, but it has since evolved,” LaFauci said. “She is

developing as a scholar because she is moving from thinking about

the topic on a personal, and perhaps political level to thinking

about the topic critically, from a more detached subject position,

and to thinking about how to shape her writing to convincingly

argue one claim about a text.”


with noticing academic growth in Hodson, LaFauci additionally notes

Hodson’s project may have larger, societal implications, and that

her “Goodwill Challenge” is something others should pay attention


“Lauren’s stylish incorporation of Goodwill items into her wardrobe

demonstrates concretely to her fellow students that reducing,

reusing, and recycling can be exciting, fun, and trendy,” LaFauci

said. “I believe that her decision to reduce, reuse, and recycle is

not solely about saving money but is also about conserving


Hodson plans to continue her participation in the “Goodwill

Challenge” after the research for her senior project is complete

and continue to blog her finds to the world. The Java Journal

allows her to network her ideas with professionals and enable her

to create a brand for herself across the world.


ultimate goal is to write a book or editorial on frugality from a

modern perspective,” Hodson said. “It would be ideal if I could

apply this hobby towards my future profession.”