“You don’t have to see ten miles down the road to start driving, you just need to see the first few hundred metres. It’s the same with any project – just start it.”
A creative drive, passion for projects and an inquiring mind make the dynamo behind 7 Crafts Boutique an intruiging agent for change in the fight against fast fashion and textile waste.
I first met Olesya Lane right before the Covid 19 crisis really bit – Olesya was quite literally a walking advert for her brand. As we met in the supermarket café to talk about her enterprise “Seven Crafts Boutique” she was dressed head to toe in her colourfully upcycled outfit – right down to the bag she had skillfully stitched from old sweaters from her son’s school.
Her appearance caused a stir with many of the patrons, who approached her to ask about her unusual attire, with its artful embroidered details and carefully created forms. She took time to explain the work she had done, sharing the ideas behind her mission and her passion to get people repairing and reimagining clothing, rather than throwing it away.
We talked of many things that day – how her mother fostered her interest in creating new looks from old clothes and supported a young Olesya with her skills and the two industrial sewing machines she had in her home, how she planned to share her passion for upcycling with her workshops in Towcester and scheduled “sewing gigs” which she planned to take on the road across the country with.
Her business 7 Crafts Boutique – named due to her diverse crafting passions which feed into the creation of clothing which might be better thought of as textile art – was ready to burst into the world with all of her passion and enthusiasm driving it forward. The plan was to up-skill people and to tackle clothing waste head-on, with a personal touch.
In doing her own research Olesya found that less than a third of clothes donated to charity shops are sold in the shops – the remainder are shipped overseas.
“I have read that in the world right now there is enough clothing in existence to clothe the next six generations,” added Olesya.
She believes consumerism and the strange exposure of social media have contributed to a system where fast fashion and throwaway clothing have led to the fashion industry becoming the world’s second largest polluter.
“People are led by the false promise,” said Olesya. “If you buy this life you will be happy. People buy a lot of cheap clothing and then it doesn’t work, they aren’t any happier, they take it to the charity shop and then start the whole process again.
“I want to teach the idea of simple waste reduction. I think people have got to learn to respect themselves as well, instead of buying things to show off once and then throw it away. Compare it to being part of something and excitement of making something – it’s good for your mental health.”
As lockdown came however, Olesya’s plans took a blow as the virus meant that all her plans were now on hold. But Olesya wasn’t to be deterred and ploughed her efforts into bringing her mission to people in new ways.
As we spoke on video chat this week she confessed: “I was not sure what to do. So I started writing my tutorials.”
As she started working hard on informative and instructive tutorials, Olesya found herself developing the information into workshops, ideas for videos and when she was finished found herself with three complete teaching packages to share with the world – one on general upcycling, another on denim upcycling and a third to teach people how to work with jersey and fine knit garments.
The courses consist of a manual describing the trained teacher’s own journey, concepts, inspiration and important knowledge to help plan for the upcycling projects included in the manual.
Lessons involve teaching new skills, instructional videos, access to an exclusive support page and online tutorials with Olesya to keep supporting people in their upcycling journeys.
The courses are, in Olesya’s view, the culmination of all her experiences and are the natural way forward to bring her mission to reduce textile waste and promote sustainability.
“Learning how to upcycle will really help people lead better lives and do so much for the environment,” she explained.
“I want to empower people to create something new from their pre-loved clothes. People spend £1,000 annually on clothes – that’s quite a lot of money – they could spend that on a holiday.”
Now Olesya is hoping that the circumstances that threatened her live workshops and demonstrations will allow her to take her message to a global audience. She also plans to wirte and publish a book of upcycling, focussed on skill and inspiration rather than being restricted by being a series of projects.