All photos by Lauryn Collett
This time last year, I started crocheting a sweater. I had no idea that what happened next would change my future entirely.
When I was younger, I knew I wanted to have a career in fashion. My dreams went from wanting to be a model, then to wanting to be a fashion journalist, and then when I got to college, I was fascinated with the idea of a career in the public relations field of the fashion industry. I never thought that in entering the fashion industry I would be creating clothes.
When I finished my first sweater, I posted a picture of myself in it on my Instagram page. My friends and family expressed how much they loved it, and it felt amazing that people I loved could appreciate the hard work I put into that sweater.
I never intended to sell clothing for people to buy, at least not as soon as I started doing it. However, my best friend demanded I make her a sweater and the rest was history.
I started with making short sets and sweaters for all of my friends, family, and social media followers that made inquiries. My short sets consisted of a pair of shorts and my customers choice of top. I had three top options for the short set, and one of them was my first original pattern, a bandeau style top.
There was a lot of trial and error when I started making clothes. Luckily, most of my first customers were people I knew personally. I would have them take the measurements I needed to make a properly fitted clothing item. Sometimes, I would finish their clothing and I would have them try it on and get back to me on how it fit. I was then able to determine if I was asking for the right measurements and I would also make modifications if I needed to.
Just when I was getting comfortable making outfits, the George Floyd murder happened. I remember how I could just feel something snap in people, and I knew that his murder and the murder of other innocent black people that summer was not going to just be swept under the rug. It was amazing to see so many people come together in solidarity with the black community, and I wanted to contribute to the Black Lives Matter cause in a way that I felt comfortable doing.
I began to sell small clothing items, like tops and hats, and donate proceeds from the sale to a local community organization that was bailing out protesters, and wrongly accused, jailed black people in the central Ohio community. I was able to raise about $200 through my efforts, and I was satisfied with that because it was a lot of hard work.
Aside from donating to a cause that I felt was more than worthy of my support, I was also able to create an affordable, custom piece of clothing that made people feel good to wear. People were taking pictures in the clothes I made and raving about how much they loved them, and that made me feel amazing!
From there, I began experimenting with different patterns while fulfilling orders when they came. I had to budget my resources and my time. It was becoming a little expensive to buy so much material and I had lost employment when COVID-19 shut down my place of work.
Summer was coming to an end, and I knew I could not continue to fulfill orders at the rate I had been because I would not have any time for schoolwork.
I continued to crochet throughout my fall semester, and now into my final semester, this spring.
I have so many ideas for things I want to create and I’m excited to start bringing them to life.
My next steps will be to create a website, packaging, and to get my “side hustle” official business recognition.
Getting to create art in this way is a very special feeling. I feel like I have created pieces of art that will be my legacy, and I do not take that for granted.