Designs by Alison / Selvage Reactualized Fiber Art
Tell us about your business.In 2009 I left a bla job. I’ve always been artistic but was not expressing myself in a vital way. About the same time my hubby got laid off. Then my spouse found a job for me…as a private sewing teacher! I started with two students and today I teach adults and children privately and at several locations in the Chicagoland area. In 2010 my husband pushed me to design a fun hat. That got great exposure and in 2012 I patented the design. All these hats left a lot of scraps. I could not part with them. In 2012 I developed Sew Much for That! Host an Eco-Sew Party: Call your friends, clean out your closets. Create one of a kind clothing and accessories. You supply the venue and we bring sewing machines, our Trunk of Junk and plenty of inspiration. I love these parties and I love party leftovers. I could not toss those scraps: my Selvage line was born. I lay out the scraps and sew them back together to create a textile and accessories. It’s a cycle of recycling the recycled!
Tell us about your workspace, shop, or studio.My workspace is at home, a small room with a big table. That is where I act as a sewing workroom. Occasionally that seeps into the rest of my basement. Thankfully I have a very patient family. When I’m not in the studio you will find me teaching sewing and fiber arts classes at a few locations in the Chicagoland area. I’m also buzzing around with Sew Much for That Eco-Sew Party events in the area.
What inspires you?My bulletin board is surrounded in quotes, some from others and some from me. I do not know where this one came from, but I recently scribbled the following, “Things that people might not think are worth a penny are worth a million to me because they opened the door for me to create.” Thank you to whoever said that. What inspires me? Internally, I try to let as much as possible inspire me. It’s about looking for the emotional charge within moments. Flutters that open that creative door. Externally, teaching touches me in a way I could not have predicted. Certainly, when I host events for children I am endlessly in awe with their creativity and ideas.
What makes your business stand out?Designs by Alison stands out as a designer who provides accessible unique goods and services. All of the knowledge and experience I gain from each project (translation: learning from mistakes) I have to offer to my students as a sewing and fiber arts educator. As a workroom I enjoy creating. Period. It may be quality custom soft goods, it may be a fun hat. Whatever I am doing, the scraps piling up around me spoke to me. I could not part with them and now I share them with the community at Sew Much for That events. Honestly, I can’t part with them at any location, so I bring everything back form these Eco-Sew parties, sort it out, reuse what I can for the next party and the rest becomes Selvage. My tiniest bits are transformed,”reactualized” into a new textile. I have so many ideas for this reinvented handmade fiber and I am just beginning. I’m so grateful for the opportunity to share and thankful for what it returns to me.
What advice would you give an aspiring creative entrepreneur?Never let your talents down. Hard work, mistakes, failures, enormous amounts of time are all part of the process. But it is all yours. You own every bit of it. That includes the devotion, happy accidents, overcoming fears and pride of accomplishments.
What does American Made mean to you?American made is very important to me. It is a value I vow to maintain throughout my career. Creating and supporting those that create locally is empowering. I often relate the revival of enthusiasm of hobbies such as handmade, crafting, repurposing in this over-automated, hyper-teched world to the Arts and Crafts movement birth from America’s Industrial Revolution. It is exciting to be a part of is as both a creator and educator.
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