I have been sewing since around the age of 8, when my grandmother gave me her old Singer sewing machine from the 60’s. She taught me the basics of the machine, and I started teaching myself to sew. Growing up in a very small town, the nearest fabric store was 30 minutes away, but luckily I was the youngest of 3, and got full permission to rip apart the hand-me-downs that I had outgrown. Mostly I turned everything into a purse. This was where my recycling began, not that I realized that was what I was doing at the time.
After years and years of sewing and developing my own techniques, I knew I needed to learn more, especially when it came to clothing. I eventually went to sewing school in Minneapolis and learned the industry standards for garment construction, draping, pattern-making, alterations, and how to work with specialty fabrics.
In the textiles class I learned that polyester has the same chemical make-up as PETE 1 water bottles. We recycle those bottles, but not the fabric, and it dawned on me how wasteful the industry really is. Many of the items in stores are not made to last so we need to go buy them again and again. The fact that the industry has adopted the “disposable” mentality and that so many of these items will not break down in the landfills left me devastated and questioning the field I was planning to go into.
I stubbornly made a decision: I either needed to find a way to feel like I was not adding to the wasteful problems of the fashion industry, OR I needed to find a new field to go into. I looked back at my childhood and realized I was perhaps a bit smarter than I had given myself credit for. I would continue recycling and finding a way to make it easier for others to recycle clothing as well.
In 2010 I opened Ginger Root Design with one of my best friends, Erin Orfanon (then Derge). It was the home of our tailoring business, specializing in revamping/recycling garments, in addition to basic tailoring. It was also a place for us to sell our eco-friendly designs and feature other local artists in DC.
After an amazing 5 year run, both Erin and I decided to close Ginger Root and begin our home businesses as we prepare for our growing families. Erin has launched Confetti Tailoring (a tailoring service for bridal, formal, and vintage), and I launched reTHINK Tailoring.
Through reTHINK Tailoring, I am back on the recycling train. My goal is to make recycling a legitimate shopping option for one’s professional and casual wardrobe. I am currently developing other green designs as well, but you will have to stay tuned for that…