Teaches others to transform everyday items into accessories
Waxhaw artist and designer Heather Valentine translated a love of art and sewing into a successful career spanning two decades that has included tenures at top fashion houses in the New York apparel industry including Donna Karan, The Children’s Place, and J. Crew. But it is her latest success – having her unique crafts selected for swag bag inclusion at last weekend’s American Music Awards – that is perhaps her biggest honor.
Out of a group of 400 artists, just 50 were selected – including Valentine’s Zipper Flower DIY kit for insertion into its 150 bags given to those in the music industry attending this prestigious event. Valentine’s unique kit features repurposed zippers transformed into decorative flowers for use as a fashion accessory.
The Three Rs
Morphing what others discard into artistic crafts or decorative accessories is the operating premise for The Sewing Loft, Valentine’s online business that got its start courtesy of a gentle nudge by her husband, along with inspiration from other entrepreneurs.
“I was always doodling my own things,” Valentine recalled. One day after work she found her husband had written her a resignation letter, and encouraged Valentine to begin a freelance career. After dipping her toes in with some part-time work freelance work, Valentine realized she had the heart to be a designer and launched her business full-force.
Today The Sewing Loft features handmade, quirky children’s accessories and toys with the 3 R’s in mind. Not “Reading, Writing and Arithmetic” but “Reduce, Reclaim and Recraft.”
“When I was a kid we didn’t know any different,” Valentine explained. “Having children I see how much stuff they accumulate . . . it is easy to take their things and reuse them.” With this in mind, Valentine re-salvages industry scrap whenever possible – from fabrics to zippers. “It may be not good enough for a Coach handbag, but it will work just fine for a brooch,” she said.
DIY Online at The Sewing Loft
A recent Waxhaw resident, Valentine moved here from New Jersey just six months ago, and recently added a blog to her online store to keep clients in the loop. Both the blog and store focus on step-by-step DIY patterns using reclaimed materials, along with innovative fashion accessories that Valentine recrafted.
The blog also features quirky challenges that let budding designers use up scraps of things others might toss. This week’s “No Ugly Ornament Challenge,” tests readers to create a delightful holiday ornament for their Christmas tree.
A Surprising Career Path
“I never thought I would have made a career out of this,” Valentine noted in amazement. “But it has proved fruitful.” To that end, she encourages all children with a love of art, design, and of sewing to keep at it.
As for her own career path, Valentine obtained a degree in Pattern Making and Fashion Design from the Fashion Institute of Technology, and used it to enter the apparel manufacturing industry, where she spend the next 20 years working and traveling around the globe.
“I want to continue to inspire others to think outside of the box with their crafting projects,” she said, when talking of the future. “I love sharing my skills and believe that mixing fresh ideas with something old is the perfect recipe to create new fun.”
See Valentine’s creation and follow her innovative and inspirational designs at www.thesewingloft.com.