By WENDY HUENUL-VALDES
Turning old into new, artists, including those in Kitchener-Waterloo, are featuring their creations in stores and on websites.
Juneandjethro is the name of local artist Emily Shield’s Etsy shop where she sells her upcycled vintage items. Upcycling is a term used to describe previously loved items that have been refurbished to either a better state or an item that’s been completely flipped and made into something different. She buys vintage dresses, shorts and shirts and either fixes them up or adds different detailings. She also sells party flags and her own journals.
Shields said she got her idea to start upcycling her own items while she was in Australia visiting a few friends. She had walked into a store with many different and unique items and upon a closer look she realized everything being sold in the store was upcycled.
“They had men’s clothing, women’s clothing, shoes, backpacks. That was the first time I had heard about upcycling,” Shields said. “Upcycling became a way that I could reflect how awesome Australian style is, because it’s different from Canadian style, or at least it was at the time. It’s just genius, and at that time it just seemed to line up with my environmental values.”
Shields, who is also an advocate for environmental issues, also addresses the ethical side of fashion by trying to provide an alternative to sweatshop-produced clothing.
“It’s all overwhelming actually. Upcycling for me now, provides an alternative for people who want something outside of sweatshop clothing. And I realize it doesn’t solve sweatshop issues because I’m working with clothing that most likely has been produced in such working conditions. So then it really ties in with that environmental factor where I’m prolonging the life of a garment as much as possible,” said Shields.
On her journey to trying to build up her own business online, Shields ran into an issue that she had not originally thought about – minimum wages in Ontario.
“I was selling my dresses for $20, sometimes less and so the amount of hours it took me to create each dress plus costs … I was just not getting paid enough. Even this past year I sold a journal for like $11 and ended up making like $1 in profit.”
The way she has decided to tackle her issue is to keep track of every minute she has worked on a new creation and multiplying that times $11.40, Ontario’s minimum wage, plus the costs of materials. She includes the math in her posts and leaves no room for people to be confused as to where their money is going.
To see her work, go to Instagram and search juneandjethro.
** We apologize for any confusion the misspell of Emily’s Instagram name, it has been corrected.