Keji Latio, second-year in respiratory therapy was chosen to speak at TedxUCincinnati this Friday about the importance of thrifting. Credit: Courtesy of Keji Latio

Growing up, Keji Latio often felt embarrassed for shopping at thrift stores because it wasn’t considered in-style to her peers. As she got older, she said she discovered the importance of and passion for thrifting.

Latio, a second-year in respiratory therapy, will speak about this passion at a TEDxUCincinnati event Friday. “20/20 Vision” will feature three live speakers — Sakinah Hofler, Monica Lam and Latio — talking about their visions for lasting change as a new decade approaches, according to the event’s website.

Latio was born on the Southeast Side of Columbus, Ohio, but her parents are immigrants. Her mother hails from Kenya and her father from South Sudan. She said that despite being teased for shopping at these places, they changed what fashion meant to her. 

“I used to get made fun of, but now I see it as saving the environment,” Latio said. “I will talk about how growing up in a poverty mentality forced me to shop at places different from other people, and I was so embarrassed. But that turned into a pretty important personality trait. It’s what makes me unique. Clothing makes you powerful no matter where it comes from.” 

Latio said she received a text message asking if she was interested in speaking at TEDxUCincinnati from someone she had met at a conference in high school. 

“I was so excited. When I received the news through text, the first thing I did was tell my brother,” Latio said. 

Emmanuel Latio, a fourth-year in public health at Ohio State and brother of Keji Latio, said he was astounded but not surprised, because his sister is insightful and focuses on the bigger picture, which is what TEDx represents. 

“She won’t speak about the trend of thrifting as millennials see it now. She will speak about the human benefit of thrifting,” Emmanuel Latio said. “She’ll bring forth the angle of, ‘It’s not a trend. It’s a way of life that immigrants use.’” 

Keji Latio said she is excited to inspire people to donate their clothing rather than throw it away or put it in the back of their closet. 

“Opening the dialogue is really important to me,” she said. “Thrifting sounds like a lot of work, so I hope to change their perspectives. I’m really excited to hear what people have to say.” 

Keji Latio said that in high school, she helped organize a TEDx, which prepared her for public speaking. 

She said the process of creating drafts and meeting with mentors has helped her balance her ideas and practice. 

“Picking a story and sticking with it has been my biggest challenge because I knew I wanted to talk about my appreciation for thrifting, and there’s so many routes I could take,” Keji Latio said. “I didn’t want to sound preachy. There’s so many different stats that I’ve found and researched.” 

TEDxUCincinnati’s “20/20 Vision” event will take place 5-6:30 p.m. Friday in the Tangeman University Center’s MainStream Cinema at the University of Cincinnati. Attendees are asked to RSVP on the event website.