Upcycle old treasures for a unique gift with a story to tell.
I grew up with a vegetarian, earth activist, nature loving, yogi mama in the prairies of Canada. It was an upbringing which instilled in me the knowledge that everything comes from somewhere and thus, has its own story. This truth stayed with me throughout my life, but of course, didn’t always guide me in the right direction. My teenage rebellion consisted of wearing copious amounts of fast fashion, becoming a cheerleader, and eating McDonald’s. ‘Twas perhaps not the most poignant rebellion, but the best I could muster at the time.
When I was in my early twenties my consciousness began to return and I decided to write a fashion column for my University’s newspaper. Each post was based on locally made apparel and the circular stories my mom had taught me as a child began to return.
I had been interested in eco-fashion since my late teens but at that time hadn’t found many brands which aligned with my still budding style. For reasons of ethics and budgets I found the solution to both problems was spending hours in the second-hand stores my city offered which were brimming with vintage gold.
I found so much good stuff that I put my DIY skills to work to edit and fix anything that I felt could be improved, then photographed a collection and launched Leotie Lovely, originally as an online vintage re-sale store. In my product hunting I often found beautiful fabrics which were no longer in use or had small stains on them; things like carpets, table runners, place mats, tablecloths, blankets and curtains which had beautiful patterns and awesome craftsmanship but didn’t necessarily have a place in the modern world.
One of my friends who at the time was making toques (winter hats) out of upcycled second-hand t-shirts came up with an idea. She suggested I rework the fantastic fabrics I was finding into clutches or bags and with that, Leotie Lovely was forever changed.
The construction of each clutch became a story in itself – a journey of time and research to upcycle and repurpose, filling in what couldn’t be found with ecologically and ethically produced components, while ensuring everyone and everything contributing to this collection’s creation was paid fairly and treated respectfully.
It felt like an art project as each piece came in different sizes, with endless possibilities in terms of design, and only enough fabric to make a few of each. I was constantly coming up with new creations, yet to this day I consider myself a curator, not a designer – as each fabric remnant seemed to find me in my daily life and travels, not the other way around. Now, each clutch holds a memory of the time and place where its material was found, while also reflecting a certain aesthetic inspired by the cultures which surrounded me over many years of nomadic city living, from London, Madrid and Paris, to Winnipeg, Texas and a 3-month stint in a VW van.
The piece I’ve collaborated with Numi Tea to offer as part of this giveaway is the Antique Aesthetics clutch. It is made from an antique runner I found at Penshurst Village Hall, in a small unspoilt village in the countryside of England near to where my father lives. The hall sits across from the grounds of Penshurst Place, the Royal ancestral home of Henry VIII. It was handcrafted over 100 years ago and features stunning traditional goldworking, silk velvet needlework, and an antique silk interior. It is a representation of a combination ancient and dying British artisan skills, made slowly over time in the spirit of quality craftsmanship. There are only two of these clutches in the world, one I gave to my step mother as a gift and one which one lucky winner will receive along with some tasty organic teas from Numi themselves.
ENTER THE GIVEAWAY!
DECEMBER 12 UPDATE: The giveaway has ended! Thank you to everyone who shared your upcycle inspiration, and congratulations to the winner, Shayla!