Frustrated by her inability to wash stains out of a thrifted sweatshirt, Junior Juliet Walker uncapped her permanent marker and started to draw on the fabric covering the stains. Early in the semester, Walker wore her revamped sweatshirt to class, and many of her classmates asked her where she got it.
At the time, the junior did not realize the upcycle of a secondhand article from the Garment District in Cambridge would launch her own creative entrepreneurship early this semester.
“I got so many compliments, and everyone was asking where I got my sweatshirt,” Walker said. “I said I did it, and they all wanted me to draw on their clothes, so that’s how it started.”
Walker took a class on making masks her freshman year and received an assignment to draw other people’s faces. She struggled with the assignment, so her professor encouraged her to try blind contour drawing. Blind contour drawing is an exercise where the artist does not look at the paper when drawing a subject. The face drawings that Walker created during her blind contour assignment are the designs that she uses to revamp customers’ items.
“I’m really not a visual art kind of person and I am also a perfectionist, but after doing the blind contour every day I started to look at the paper and I started to perfect the technique,” Walker said.
Walker has been customizing items since October 2019. She takes requests through direct message on any of her social media accounts. She can customize any item that is a solid light color, including shirts, sweatshirts, pants, jeans, shoes, tote bags, water bottles, and more. Her prices range from $5 to $30 depending on the product.
“These face drawings are the only visual art thing that I can do, and I don’t even think they are that good, but everyone likes them,” Walker said.
Marge Kaplan-Earle, a close friend of Walker, received one of Walker’s creations as a birthday gift. The piece that Kaplan-Earle got revamped was a Nantucket red button down shirt, and the illustrations line the right side of the shirt.
“The design that she is making definitely fits within her personal artist aesthetic,” Kaplan-Earle said. “No piece that Juliet has done is exactly the same, and I adore that.”
Annalise Englert, a sophmore performing arts major, revamped an old pair of Levi’s jeans with Walker that she got at the swap-and-shop event that Emerson does every year. The design cost Englert $30. It goes up on one jean leg and down the other.
“I told her she could do anything she wants to them because I trust her artistic instincts,” Englert said.
A major reason Walker started to revamp items is to reduce the amount of clothes that people throw away. She stresses the importance of recycling and revamping items of clothing to help the environment and to reduce mass production.
“I think what I am doing motivates people to stop throwing away items of clothing just because they don’t like it anymore, but now instead they can revamp it and make it into something new,” Walker said.