Happy Feature Friday!
Today we’re featuring the work and maker behind the brand East and Market! We not only love the accessories and decor Renee makes, but are so enthusiastic about how she repurposes fabrics and materials! She transforms these fabrics into something both beautiful and useful and we are true fans of how sustainable her business is. She also takes on custom projects and you can send her your memorable fabrics to get a new upcycled creation in return! Renee created a video for us showing her creative process and not only answered our questions, but gave some more info on East and Market so you can learn even more about the brand!
: How did you start your shop, East and Market?
: East and Market originally was going to be a fashion truck. My idea was to open a truck where I sold clothing and possibly some of my handmade items. However, after I launched, I became really interested in building a brand that decreased my carbon footprint on the environment. I knew that a way I could instantly incorporate this into East and Market was to create my own products. With the ability to create my own productsIve made the choice to sew with minimal to zero waste, use secondhand and remnant materials, and offer my customers a chance to use their own upcycled goods in the products they purchase from me.
: How has your career in Occupational Therapy and your work as an artist coincided? Are there any similarities or ways in which art has influenced your work in Occupational Therapy?
: I could talk about this question forever! I actually chose to be an Occupational Therapist (OT) because of the influence art has on the origins of the profession. OT began in the early 1900s as a way to treat soldiers coming home from war. It focused on meaningful participation in work and crafts for healing.
As a pediatric OT I teach kids to develop and strengthen their fine motor and visual motor skills. I am constantly creating and/or brainstorming adaptations to help kids with disabilities live their everyday lives as independently as possible. A great way to teach this is through art! I incorporate art into many of my therapy sessions. I used to even run a weekly art group in the pediatric hospital I work at for the inpatients!
My ultimate goal is to one day combine my handmade business with OT based vocational skills training for people with disabilities.
: What is your favorite thing about being creative and seeing your work being appreciated by your customers?
: Creativity is definitely an adrenaline rush for me. When I start making things, hours can pass and it will feel like a few seconds.
I absolutely love custom orders where I am creating something that is made from a really special piece of material send to me by a customer. To have the privilage of handling someones treasured item and turn it into something they can functionally use is really satisfying.
: Making the shift to a more sustainable lifestyle has been something many people have become more interested in recently. What are some recommendations you have for people beginning to make this lifestyle change?
: For me personally, the easiest way to make life style changes is to work on small things in my daily life and gradually build from there. My first step in my own journey was educating myself further about environmental issues and the impact we, as individuals, have on that. One statistic I can never get out of my head is that the average American throws away approximately 82 pounds of textile waste a year!!! Wow.
The more I learned about the effects of fast fashion and general everyday waste, the more I realized how wasteful I was unintentionally.
Some simple suggestions I have would give to someone looking to be more environmentally responsible would be:
-Donate old clothes and household items to stores such as Goodwill. Goodwill has sustainable methods of getting rid of materials they deem unsellable or items they cannot sell.
-Opt out of getting a paper or plastic bag with your purchases in stores.
-Check out your local thrift or consignment shop when you are in need of some new clothes. You would be amazed at the gems you can find!!!
-Use reusable food and beverage containers.
: What are some of your favorite home decor pieces from your line? Are there any must-have pieces you are dreaming up for summer?
: I am working on some hand dyed bowls that I am SOOOO excited to add to my home decor line this spring. I plan to explore some natural hand dying methods and can’t wait to see what comes out of my experimentation!
This summer I am planning to make some kimonos. Last year I made a couple and they were a big hit!