Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Held Together: A True Story of Love's Victory by Jenny Q

A riveting true story about the power of love and the strength of community.

Synopsis - 

In January of 2014, Joshua Tree’s beloved village herbalist, Jenny Q. suddenly became seriously ill and rapidly descended into a coma with slender chance of survival. The shock of this news initiated an overwhelming outpouring of love, wit, service, practical magic and sharing of spiritual wisdom between those in her intimate desert community. Indeed it seemed that the entire group became one in their desperate effort and race against the clock to save her life.

While the words of others in the community tell the story in this book, it is Jenny’s own insightful writings that provide a fascinating window into a range of rare experiences. She gives us a unique glimpse into the mysterious worlds encountered while in a coma, the absolute alteration of losing one’s legs, the subtle venom of PTSD, the nightmare of withdrawal from prescription opiates, and the maddening frustration of having to re-learn basic skills previously taken for granted such as the ability to walk.

Review - 

This book is in some ways hard to review because it truly unique in terms of how it is written and there are many, many layers of the human experience it explores.

The main story line is both simple and frightening - Jenny Q goes in for a minor surgery and by the next day is fighting for her life. A serious infection has taken hold that only has a 5% survival rate. Her journey through this abyss is told through short personal remembrance notes, songs and poetry written by herself, her friends, her family, her community and her partner. The price to survive? Loss of many pieces of her body including both her legs and the fingers on one hand. In the end she had around 50 surgeries to deal with the ravages of the infection.

Because of the way Jenny Q's story is told, we see the most serious days in the hospital through the eyes of others.  How it affects them, what they see, the fear and how they come together in support.  With limited access, many focus on standing beside her spiritually, holding her close and offering her spirit a tether.  We see the power of coming together as a community.

We are also introduced throughout the narrative to Jenny's journey to this moment - her life as a Dead Head, her marriage, the birth of her child and divorce, opening her Grateful Desert shop, her relationship with her ethnic family (both the strengths and the challenges) and the joy of finding her life partner. After she returns home we walk with her through the struggles to accept the changes to her body - will her partner still find her beautiful with the disfigurements -  and the limits she has to learn to work around.  It was also an eye-opener for her to experience how others reacted to her "disabilities."

A wonderful and inspiring read that explores so much more than just illness and recovery.

Buy the Book: Amazon ~ Barnes & Noble BookBaby Author Website Add to Goodreads


Meet The Author - 


Fab Author Interview HERE!

Jenny Q was born in Southern California to Palestinian immigrants. Her love of herbs began in her teens while on the road following the Grateful Dead. After exploring many heart homes, she set her roots in Joshua Tree, California, where she opened Grateful Desert, the local apothecary. Joyously sharing her life with her tight-knit desert community, Jenny lives with her beloveds~ Yazzy, her daughter and Myshkin, her wife.

Connect with Jenny: Website 


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Interview with Jenny Q, Author of Held Together: A True Story of Love's Victory

This is a very unusual book in terms of how the story is told - in some ways a collaborative book. Please share the journey of how this came together - the idea to tell your story this way, how you decided whose words would be included, did they write their notes during your illness or are these reflections written afterwards from memory, etc.

Indeed, this is a strange way to write a book! The idea was formed as much by necessity as it was a creative/artistic vision.

Many people asked me to write my story soon after I came home from the hospital, but I was still very sick and couldn’t imagine tackling a project so big. Also, there was much about my journey that I didn’t know, because even after I emerged from the coma, I was living in a dream-like state for many months.

I also liked the idea of moving the book like a novel, fast-paced and with tension. So I ripped apart all the submissions and wove them into my own writings. I wanted to keep everyone’s voice intact, so while I edited each piece, I kept the personalities of each writer.

I sent out a call for submission about six months after my original hospital stay, so at the beginning of 2015. Most people wrote from memory, but some were written at the time that I was away.

Your passages are written entirely in lower case without any capitals while others follow a more traditional format. Why did you choose to express your thoughts this way?

The initial reason I did this was that I was in some sort of weird phase when that was how I was writing everything! I grew out of that :) but decided to keep my pieces that way to distinguish my voice from others. Also, many of my pieces are stream of consciousness, so I thought this quirky way was appropriate.

While you were in a coma, you were surrounded by a community reaching out in support in many many ways, both physical and spiritual. Did their presence slip through the layers at any time, or did you become aware of this amazing outpouring only after you awakened? 

I have bits of memory from when I was in the coma. I saw a woman that I knew from around town that I barely knew. Later, I found that that she is a spiritual woman and told me she had been meditating with me. There are a few stories like this. I saw many other people that I know intimately. 

Review HERE!
What was it like as you read through all the loving and positive words written by other expressing how important you were in their life? Was there anything you learned that surprised you? 

That’s a great question that no one has asked me yet! It was very strange to read through everyone’s writings. It filled me with joy and love, but was very hard as well. I cried a lot as I read through each submission. I am very humbled.

It was particularly hard imagining publishing a book with so many positive words about myself. It made me feel so vain! But I kept trying to take some space from the ‘Jenny character’ so that I could convey the journey.

As far as being surprised goes, I think I felt more secure in the fact that when you love your community deeply, it is felt and reciprocated.

But I was surprised in other ways. Each submission that came in told a part of my own life, pieced back together parts of my life that I didn’t know or couldn’t remember. It was incredibly healing in this way.

I believe every step we take, every experience we have, teaches and guides us. How has walking through this experience - the physical, the spiritual and the family/community - touched your life? What have you learned or what has been affected in your outlook/journey?

Oh, in so many ways!

First, I never want to take my body and my health for granted! I used to run five days a week, and though I savored my strength and ability, I would sometimes whine while tying my laces in the early morning light.

Second, I was always one that believed in gratitude- my shop is called Grateful Desert! I thought I had that nailed. No matter how hard life had been at any moment, if I focused on what I was grateful for, things would always seem lighter. But going through this experience gave me such a deeper experience of gratitude. I know how hard life can be and how lucky I am with the amount of ability I have left.

Lastly, I was given a gift as I traveled through the stars while in a coma. Ah, it is so magnificent, the truth and depth of who we are. Nothing is as perfect as when we simply are. The knowledge I hold onto is that nothing needs to be as stressful or dire as what we make it, especially the pressure we put on ourselves to be good or productive. When we go, we are all the same, we are indeed one. I came back with the surety that we can relax, be good and productive because it feels good; that no one is keeping tabs, there are no celestial elevators. I came back more joyous than ever knowing that this life is a gift, and afterwards, it is even more brilliant.

What would you most like readers to take away from reading Held Together?

This book is multi-dimensional. There are many stories.

The most obvious - there is an able-bodied person, an average woman just like most, who becomes disabled and physically transformed. I want people to be able to relate to people that look like Other. We are all alike more than many people think. It would also be wonderful for people to understand how hard it is to move around this life with physical and other disabilities.

Also, it can be quite lonely to be disabled. There is so much shame associated with it! I wanted to reach out to other people who feel different and let them know they are not alone. People tend to stare at my prostheses, and I want to let them, so that the next time they see an amputee, it won’t be as shocking. I tend to wear short dresses for that reason.

This is also a story about community, and how love can save a life.

Thursday, September 6, 2018

No End of Bad by Ginny Fite


A DC conspiracy novel of grand proportions...
Synopsis -

Washington, DC, housewife Margaret Turnbull's world literally blows up after her husband, FBI agent Clay Turnbull, is falsely arrested and killed by agents working for an international drug cartel.
Unbeknownst to Margaret, her enemy's tentacles reach all the way to the White House and control senior personnel. Their powerful enterprise in jeopardy, the assassins will stop at nothing to cover their tracks. With cutting-edge surveillance--CIA, FBI, and NSA technology--there is nowhere to hide, no one to trust. No one is safe--anywhere.
Review
I think this book touches a collective nerve when it comes to the power of secret government agencies.  What happens if some of the agents have become corrupt and one of us stands in their way.  That's just what happens in No End of Bad.

At the start of the book, loyal FBI Agent Clay Turnbull is having a quiet lunch in the park when he is stormed by agents, arrested, accused of treason and then quietly killed in a way that looks like a heart attack before he can talk with anyone.  We discover he has been quietly looking into a strange pattern of activity and following the trail of crumbs.  Is this the reason he is taken out?

His wife and daughter's lives are thrown into turmoil as their idyllic life disappears.  They never are allowed to talk to him before he is killed and are surrounded by those who believe their husband/father is a traitor - he must be guilty if it's in the news.  When they are pulled out of their home minutes before it blows up, the excitement ramps up to a new level.  We follow the wife and daughter's daring escapes as they stay one step ahead of the assassins following them, while those in the government who know something is amiss struggle to not only keep the duo safe, but discover the mystery Turnball was uncovering and bring those responsible for his death to justice.

No End of Bad is a great escape. Well written, with a great story line and exciting pace, it's sure to draw in and keep you reading late into the wee hours. 
Review of No Good Deed Left Undone HERE
Meet the Author - 
Dec. 2016 Behind The Scenes Interview HERE!

Ginny Fite is the author of the dark mystery/thrillers Cromwell's Folly, No Good Deed Left Undone, and Lying, Cheating, and Occasionally Murder, as well as a funny self-help book on aging, I Should Be Dead by Now, a collection of short stories, What Goes Around, and three books of poetry. She resides in Harpers Ferry, WV.  
Connect with Ginny: Website ~ Twitter ~ Facebook


Friday, August 31, 2018

EFWA 2018 Upcycling Challenge Interview with Matilda Janosi of TildArt Eco Luxury

All images by KrisJ Photography
Please share a bit about about the journey that led you to embrace fashion design as a career. 

I moved from Transylvania to Budapest, Hungary with the aim of starting my own fashion brand. In, 2012, I arrived in London with a big dream – to establish TildArt as a viable business. I worked at first as a rickshaw driver in Central London. This was hard physical work but I got the chance to meet very interesting people and generate some funds in order to begin to establish my brand. It also provided me with the inspiration to recycle the hundreds of discarded inner tubes at the Rickshaw base to create fashion! 

I was invited to show two of my collections at the Eco Fashion Week 2013 in Vancouver, Canada. This gave me the confidence to move forward with the business! The next year I opened my studio in London where TildArt “Eco Luxury” continues to invent a new way of looking at fashion. 2016 - I went back to the Vancouver Eco Fashion Week and showed my “VeloLux” collection, which is made from a combination of recycled inner tube and natural fabrics such us wool, natural latex - inlaid with Swarovski Crystals. From 2017 to PRESENT, I expanded my brand to include fashion pieces made from recycled old curtains and a combination of plant based organic fabrics, such as bamboo silk, cotton, “pinatex” and cork. The curtains were sourced from “Spencer House” where Lady Diana, Winston Churchill and a few British aristocratic family were based. I’ve created a new Eco Luxurious Fashion Style with a touch of British History! All of my pieces are tailor made in London and made to order from the TildArt website.

I know you trained at UAL, London - Creative Fashion Design Course. Talk about the highs and lows of studying. What did you find easy? What was a challenge?

I found it very easy to improve my designs skills acquired form this course because this is my passion. It was an great experience to learn in one of the world’s best fashion university’s. It was one of my big dreams to do that. The one very difficulty thing was finding the time to do the course while I was working full time.

Images by Kris Pinter
Who you are as a designer? Aesthetic? Customer? Brand? Etc.? Do you offer a new line each season, create custom work or both?

My brand is a sustainable fashion brand and I design a few looks per annum. I like to have a story behind every look. I don’t want to be a competitor with the “fast fashion” labels who produce lots of collections every year. I wanted to make sure if somebody is purchasing an item from our shop, it will be long lasting and a loved classic piece. One would be able to pass from generation to generation.

I call myself an “Eco Luxury” fashion designer. My fashion label is TildArt and my collections are created by using a combination of recycled and high quality. These are carefully sourced organic fabrics where I am trying to bring recycled eco fashion to a luxurious level!

My motto is” I love when the fabric has a history”. It is the materials are inspires me and it gives me a sense of passion to breathe new life into the material over and over again.

All my fashion pieces are tailor made in London, UK and all pieces are Make to Order (MTO).

Lift image by  KrisJ Photography - Right image by Images by Kris Pinter
I am so thrilled to have you a part of the EFWA Upcycling Challenge by Marilyn R Wilson. Have you ever upcycled used garments before? If so, how?

In the past, my collections were made from recycled bicycle inner tubes, movie strips, vinyl records or even moss.
  • In 2009 I baked my first vinyl record bra
  • In 2013 there was a lot of attention around my filmstrip hat at the Canadian EFW in Vancouver.
  • In 2016 I started to combine bicycle inner tube with natural latex and wool, inlaid with Swarovski crystals.
Recently, I have been concentrating on working with a combination of organic and 100% degradable recycled fabrics, using natural dye technics.
Please share a little about your approach/inspiration for creating your runway look for this international show? What can the audience expect?

A very exciting look! J

This dress will be made from a combination of recycled men's shirts and a small amount of recycled old curtains. (The curtains are sourced from Spencer House next to Kensington Palace where Lady Diana lived). My inspiration for this dress is coming from the Sydney Opera House shape, which has a very beautiful unique design. 

This TildArt piece name is "Eureka"…what I'll feel when I get the chance to visit Australia.

Images by Kris Pinter
What would you most like the international fashion audience to know about you as a designer and your brand?

We need to realise that “cheap clothes” come at a huge human, social and environmental price and do a lot of harm to nature and us. I believe we can bring positive changes in the fashion industry if we don’t just talk about the issue but all of us take responsibility and do something about it – making our and our children’s and grandchildren’s future a lot better.

I’m hoping my look made from recycled materials can show the world we can make unique, fun to wear, in demand pieces that people will be happy to acquire and hold for a long time.

What's next for you as a designer? What are your long term dreams?

An exhibition at London Fashion Week is next.

My goal is to spread the word about the eco-luxury approach. I would like to be part of eco-warrior campaigns, which can help to bring big changes in the fashion industry. TildArt’s business goal is to represent a new wave of luxurious fashion, taking into consideration sustainability while producing wonderful and interesting pieces that people will love to buy and wear.

Links -

EFWA 2018 Upcycling Challenge Interview with Denise Anglesey of Denise H and Founder of NZ Eco Fashion Week

Please share a bit about about the journey that led you to embrace fashion design as a career.

My journey as a designer began in 2006 after entering and winning my section recycled trash to fashion event.  When the opportunity presented itself for me to salvage denim from going to the local landfill I did so. This started the journey of my label - Denise H.

I know you are self-taught.  Where did you start to learn your sewing skills?

My grandmother taught me how to sew as a young teenager.

Who you are as a designer? Aesthetic? Customer? Brand? Etc.? Do you offer a new line each season, create custom work or both?

My brand is mostly one of a kind Unique pieces but more recently I have developed a few patterns that I use. These are semi commercial ranges and are stocked in three stores within New Zealand.
I am so thrilled to have you a part of the EFWA Upcycling Challenge by Marilyn R Wilson. Have you ever upcycled usedgarments before? If so, how?

My women’s skirts are made from recycled t-shirts. I also offer a range of beanies in all sizes made from waste collected from a local second hand store.

Please share a little about your approach/inspiration for creating your runway look for this international show? What can the audience expect?

My Upcycled business shirt challenge garment for eco fashion week Australia will be made from corporate waste business shirts. The garments will be able to be reproduced for the retail market. It will be comprised of a layered mini wrap skirt and matching top. The top and skirt can be worn together or as separates.

What would you most like the international fashion audience to know about you as a designer and your brand?

My brand over the last ten years has led me on a journey I never thought I would undertake. Having a background in sales management has helped me to brand, market and sell my range well. In 2013 I decided that helping others to do the same would cast a bigger light onto how amazing this type of fashion is and I implemented the NZ version of Eco Fashion Week. The show is currently on hold due to events centre construction locally. We hope to resume in the new year.   



What's next for you as a designer? What are your long term dreams?

Currently I am working with a group of local women to form a business enterprise called ReFAB. We use waste fabrics sourced locally to create unique gifts lines for retail. Being part of the enterprise means they get to learn to sew and learn all the aspects necessary to run and operate a small business. Our first product is now available in stores throughout NZ and online - “Mini Organic Wheat Hand Warmers or Cold Press”

My goal with my own range is to grow my wholesale market with the hope of being able to make a difference to employment locally. 


Website - www.econoutiquenz.com
Facebook - Denise H Eco & Upcycled Fashion
Instagram - NZECOFASHION

EFWA 2018 Upcycling Challenge Interview with Janine McAughren of Ghren

Please share a bit about about the journey that led you to embrace fashion design as a career.

My mother taught me to sew when I was 11 years old. Being a middle child, I used design to express my creativity and to be unique. I have always strived to be one of a kind and show it through my clothing. I created Ghren because I wanted to be able to give other women that feeling of being fierce and confident.

I know you trained at The Wilson School of Design at Kwantlen Polytechnic University. Talk about the highs and lows of studying. What did you find easy? What was a challenge?

Studying at The Wilson School of Design at Kwantlen Polytechnic University was one of the best experiences I have had, I became my best self. It was a high stress environment, but it became manageable once I accepted and embraced the work that I was doing. I was educated on the real issues of the industry, which is another reason why upcycling is so close to my heart.

It all becomes a little easier once you put everything into perspective.

Who you are as a designer? Aesthetic? Customer? Brand? Etc.? Do you, or do you plan to, offer a new line each season, create custom work or both?

I design the same way I live my life - unique and genuine. My style is generally relaxed, easygoing but always draws inspiration from the past. Ghren is my creative outlet - My Funnel of Love. I design so women can feel unique and beautiful in a one of a kind garment. 


Ghren’s new direction is upcycling, taking old clothing and giving it a new life. Each piece is unique to itself and has a handful of stories sewn into it. Ghren will offer a small selection of garments ready to purchase, as well as made-to-order garments. This will allow the Ghren shopper to be part of the creative process. You will be able have input on the perfect colour spectrum, to see the clothing used to create your garment, and it will be made to your measurements. Ghren will also offer the option of doing custom orders, with old clothing you already own. Ghren can turn your grandfathers old shirts into a sundress, or your grandmothers moo-moo into a cute skirt.  

Every piece of clothing has a story, what does yours say?

I am so thrilled to have you a part of the EFWA Upcycling Challenge by Marilyn R Wilson and Dalija Vlahov. Have you ever upcycled used garments before? If so, how?

I have always been a big thrift shopper, searching for treasures within the musty racks. Most pieces I find end up being altered or turned into something completely new. This is however, the first time I have dedicated my self to upcycling and making it a real aspect of my life.

Please share a little about your approach/inspiration for creating your runway look for this international show? What can the audience expect?

The ocean has always been my true creative muse. I have always found inspiration behind it. It has a deep connectivity to the rest of the world, it sings to me. The garment is inspired by a cascading ocean wave. Dark jewel tones emulate the depths of the ocean; the broad and the abstruse. The colours migrate through a spectrum of blues to the crashing whites of the surf.

What would you most like the international fashion audience to know about you and what you offer (or hope to offer) the world of fashion?

It is important for each person to know that they are truly special. You are a one of a kind, you are a gem. You shouldn’t have to change for anyone but yourself. Ghren is here to offer you clothing that is as unique, and special as you are.


What's next for you? What are your long term dreams?

I want Ghren to finally lift off and become part of people’s every day life. I want women to look into their closets and say “today, I am going to wear my Ghren original” and walk out of their front door with confidence.

Links - 

EFWA 2018 Upcycling Challenge Interview with Carmel Ryan

Carmel - 2nd from left
Please share a bit about about the journey that led you to embrace fashion design as a career.

Seems crazy looking back to think I’ve been sewing for over 50 years! I was taught by both mother & grandmother, skilled tailors and seamstresses by trade. I started making my own clothes on a Singer treadle machine, which is still a prized possession, from the age of 8. I was soon dressmaking for friends & other’s as an income supplement in my later teens, so embracing fashion came natural and a way of life to me.

Living in remote Outback Australia in the 70’s, there was little outside influence of fashion, Monthly copies of Woman’s Weekly, Dolly magazine and Countdown on ABC TV were my fashion ‘bibles’ & inspiration. I recall the first pair of wide leg flairs and tie dyed singlet I made & wore to a casual day at high school, - I almost started a revolution! From that day on I knew the power of fashion and how it can define people. I always wanted to be a fashion designer and have my own collection, unfortunately there were no opportunities for formal study in Alice Springs at the time.


I know you trained at TAFE. Talk about the highs and lows of studying. What did you find easy? What was a challenge?

When living in Adelaide for a short period in my early 20’s, I enrolled in a Pattern Design & Construction course at TAFE.  At TAFE I took night school courses and only once a week over 2 years. The technical aspect was learnt with a lot of set homework and most of the sewing done in our own time. So this was a very long drawn out process. However it was integral part to where I am today, I can confidently pattern draft, design direct on a dummy and adapt any commercial pattern as a result of this only formal training.

Who you are as a designer? Aesthetic? Customer? Brand? Etc.? Do you offer a new line each season, create custom work or both?

As I’m someone who designs & creates for the sheer love of it, not as a profession, there is no pressure apart from the deadlines of being catwalk ready for actual fashion events. I don’t have to look ahead to next season, and can take on commissions & custom orders for clients when it suits me. Sewing for my grand daughter or taking on bridal embellishments for special friends is such a joy & honour. I get to play & use all types of repurposed fabrics & vintage finds because I can!

I am so thrilled to have you a part of the EFWA Upcycling Challenge by Marilyn R Wilson. Have you ever upcycled used garments before? If so, how?

Yes! I’m always upcycling! As my girls were growing up and involved in ballet and drama, I became the resident wardrobe mistress & costume maker for numerous stage productions. I learnt to hone my ‘frugal & recycling’ skills here due to limited budgets! 

I'm also passionate about Wearable Art, picking up many category awards in the Alice Springs Wearable Arts Awards. I’ve also had garments in shows in Darwin, Hobart & the Showcase at Wearable Art Mandurah in the past 3 years. All my work features all recycled, upcycled & repurposed materials... I never buy new !
As part of the Sustainable Couture team for 10 years we are really forging a name in recycled fashion. Friends are always offering their ‘throw-aways’ to us. We’ve kept a lot of clothing out of landfill, that I know!


What would you most like the international fashion audience to know about you as a designer and your brand?

I’m hoping the audience will see the connection I have for country and community. I feel so blessed to have been brought up and live in the Red Centre. I have a 40 acre rural property nestled along the Eastern McDonnell ranges. I’m continually inspired & nurtured by this special landscape.

I’ve chosen to use only white shirts in this challenge, echoing the look of the eucalyptus papuana, the milky white ghost gums ever present in my backyard. It will be a bridal gown - a symbol of love honour & protection. All shirts used have come with a story from each of their owners, from the town mayor, Council CEO, lawyers, surveyors, pastoralists, war veterans, grandfathers, fathers, uncles, brothers and sons.


What's next for you as a designer? What are your long term dreams?


I once owned a sewing shop in the mid 80’s selling fabric, dressmaking, doing alterations & workshops, so I feel like I have covered the business side of things. I guess I’ll continue on my present path of sewing for enjoyment, family & friends, entering the occasional award show, mentoring, and spreading the word about ‘slow fashion’ through the Sustainable Couture platform.
We are about to move to Darwin for a few years, so I hope to work on more collaborative garments with Aboriginal artists from the Top End. I’ve made gowns with the most gorgeous silk screened fabrics through a project with Injalak Arts - see #getiton2017 #getiton2018 on Instagram. Yes, I’d really like that ! 

Links - 

EFWA 2018 Upcycling Challenge Interview With Gigi Forget of Sal-vij by Gigi

Please share a bit about about the journey that led you to embrace fashion design as a career.

Since very young, I remember being cast as an oddity due to a severe speech impediment I had. I came to the realization that from my perception moving forwards, I treasured anything or anyone who was odd or out of the ordinary as I could relate to them on an emotional level. Thereby how I dressed became my passion; a way to act out who I was on the inside because speech was not a possible method at the time. 

I am also tactile person and have always been drawn to colors and textures. Anything I could find around me in my home and nature became my medium to create clothes for dolls. From that point, I moved into creating a line art onto glassware and then in my later years, a door opened for me to study fashion design. My love and passion of fabric and color has brought me full circle.

I know you trained at...VCAD (Vancouver College of Arts and Design. Talk about the highs and lows of studying. What did you find easy? What was a challenge?

One of the biggest highs for me was to be in school learning something that I’ve been passionate about most of my life, playing and learning about fabric! Being back in school after 25 plus years was a struggle at the get go but then it became my life. I am certainly not finished with studying. My aim is to continue learning new means of fabric manipulation and learning more about on hand stitching clothes without the use of machines 


Who you are as a designer? Aesthetic? Customer? Brand? Etc.? Do you, or do you plan to, offer a new line each season, create custom work or both?


I am very tactile, love color, texture, asymmetry, oddities and irregularities. Basically anything goes with me because that’s just how life happens. We are never really in control of anything and I project that into my art pieces. There is always something quirky in my looks which then projects uniqueness, which we all are no matter what is broadcast to us via the media.

One long term goal I have is to plan for my retirement by designing and creating one of a kind pieces by hand using lots of sewing techniques in each piece. Creating walking art pieces, that are cherished, loved and profitable for everyone concerned. 


I am so thrilled to have you a part of the EFWA Upcycling Challenge by Marilyn R Wilson and Dalija Vlahov. Have you ever upcycled used garments before? If so, how?

While in school, my final collection was 75% reclaimed fabric and the rest was dead stock cashmere/wool and organic bamboo. For over 20 years, I’ve been revamping clothes mostly by hand. Hand me downs was a very common thing in my life being the youngest of 6 children. My home in Yellowknife, Northwest Territories is mostly made from a reclaimed trailer and salvaged construction material from our local dump. As there are no fabric stores here in our fair city, one has to depend on thrift stores and summer yard sales. 


Please share a little about your approach/inspiration for creating your runway look for this international show? What can the audience expect?

The theme for my look is Till Death Do Us Part series 2.

Its all a part of educating as much as showcasing. That’s my biggest hope is to display another means of looking and seeing discarded waste as wearable art. This line showcases what is important is recognizing what we see is not always what the truth or story is. How long the fabric used in this collection would have taken to breakdown in mother earth’s womb versus prolonging the inevitable and breathing a whole new life into several of those cast away shirts. We as humans may never outlive the bulk of our clothes so why not try to get the most out of them while we are still alive. With this line, I’ve incorporated more texture, asymmetry and did an “I spy with my little eye”...Lets see who gets them. 
Upcycled men’s shirts created into pants.
What would you most like the international fashion audience to know about you and what you offer (or hope to offer) the world of fashion?

I feel what’s important to be made aware is to not only look at this as fashion but be open to seeing it in other dimensions. There is so much more like branding one’s own sense of style, the story behind each piece, the romance created by the encounter, art, education, gaining human compassion and on and on. Fashion is but one component, a plateau to showcase the love of the creation but not to lead the audience astray with the bombardment of the media’s fixed interpretation. 


What's next for you? What are your long term dreams?

Continue the learning curve of fabric manipulation and learning what more can be done to make my business full circle. Fair trade practices in 3rd world countries has been calling to me for some time as well…and of course travelling to seek out new textile adventures. Who knows what the wind will blow my way.


Links -

Thursday, August 30, 2018

The Cleansweep Counterstrike: A Matt Tremain Technothriller by Chuck Waldron

In this sequel, Matt Tremain is back, facing an even deadlier threat. Deceit and intrigue lie hidden behind the collapse of Operation CleanSweep. It’s time for revenge.

Synopsis - 

Instrumental in exposing the evil behind Operation CleanSweep—a diabolical “cultural cleansing” plot masterminded by Toronto billionaire Charles Claussen—investigative blogger Tremain now faces the madman’s desire for vengeance. Claussen intends to settle the score personally by luring Matt into a deadly trap.

But the clock is ticking for Claussen, too. Fraternité des Aigles, The Brotherhood of Eagles—a shadowy group that secretly financed Claussen’s Operation CleanSweep—wants answers and their money back. Consumed with rage, Claussen risks everything to get to Matt before the Brotherhood gets to him. Tremain is once again partnering with a police detective, Carling. Knowing they are being lured into a possible trap, they decide to face their nemesis, Charles Claussen.

Across four continents, Claussen sets traps, pursues Tremain, and continues to execute his signature brand of global chaos. When his fiancé’s life is on the line, can Tremain stop Claussen’s madness and still avoid getting killed?

Review - 

The Cleansweep Counterstrike is book two in a series. Sometimes these can be stand alone books, but I think this time it's important to read them in order.  The main character - Matt Tremain - is a blogger who in the first book discovered a plot by billionaire Charles Claussen to bring a return to Nazi principles. He along with several other important characters ending up thwarting this plot, but Claussen has disappeared.

At the start of The Cleansweep Counterstrike, Matt - along with several others who helped him thwart this plot - are receiving threatening emails from the Cleansweep founder. Claussen is still furious his beautifully laid out plan to eliminate undesirables was ruined and he is bent on exacting revenge on all who thwarted his efforts. In this book we are also introduced to a mysterious, powerful foursome called The Brotherhood of Eagles. They supported Claussen's Cleansweep project financially and with it's failure, are hunting him down. 

While the first book was more about Claussen's behind the scenes plotting to launch Cleansweep successfully as well as others efforts to thwart it, this book is more of an international thriller. We follow Matt and his friends efforts to track down Claussen while avoiding his deadly attempts at revenge. As well we follow Claussen's constant flights around the globe in an effort to stay one step ahead of those hired by The Brotherhood to bring him in.

It's a great read that will keep you entertained throughout, and the ending hints of another book to come in this series - great news for fans of this exciting genre.

Check out a review of book 1 in this series - The Cleansweep Conspiracy - HERE!

Meet the Author - 



Chuck Waldron is the author of four riveting mystery, thriller and suspense novels and more than fifty short stories. Inspired by his grandfather’s tales of the Ozark Mountains and local caves rumored to be havens for notorious gangsters, Waldron was destined to write about crime and the human condition. Those childhood legends ignited his imagination and filled his head with unforgettable characters, surprising plots and a keen interest in supernatural and historical subplots.

With literary roots planted in the American Midwest and South, and enriched by many years living in the fertile cultural soil of metropolitan Ontario, Waldron now resides on Florida’s fabled Treasure Coast with his wife, Suzanne. While keeping an eye out for hurricanes, alligators, and the occasional Burmese python, visitors will find Waldron busy writing his next crime thriller.

Connect with Chuck: Website ~ Twitter ~ Facebook ~ 

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Wednesday, August 29, 2018

EFWA 2018 Upcycling Challenge with Kathryn Davis of slumwear208 and The Possibility Project

Please share a bit about about the journey that led you to embrace fashion design as a career.

Watching my mum make something ‘out of nothing’ always felt like magic, it sparked a sense of creativity that is so common in people who grow up surrounded by sewers. I always loved beautiful fabrics and mixing things up has been a passion of mine since high school. Designing clothing is a natural extension of having a particular aesthetic, and wanting to create it for myself and others.

I know you trained as a milliner, but are self-taught in terms of your fashion design. What comes easy for you/ What is more of a challenge? 


I love to learn, but I wouldn’t say I was particularly good at studying! I trained many years ago as a milliner but the most valuable training I have had has been in fashion retail, listening to customers and learning about their likes and dislikes, ultimately my clothing is designed to bring love back into their wardrobes as I find it very challenging that people are so hard on themselves when it comes to choosing what they wear.

Who you are as a designer? Aesthetic? Customer? Brand? Etc.? Do you, or do you plan to, offer a new line each season, create custom work or both?


slumwear108 is created to bring a much higher level of consciousness to the fashion industry. The last thing I actually want to do is to simply ‘sell clothing’, my work is about scaling a mindset of conscious consumerism and educating people on ways they can reimagine their fashion choices. I hope to truly slow things down, and encourage people to buy clothing that they love and will wear for many years.



I am so thrilled to have you a part of the EFWA Upcycling Challenge by Marilyn R Wilson and Dalija Vlahov. Have you ever upcycled used garments before? If so, how? 


I co-founded slumwear108 with a simple aim to use as mush as what already existed as possible, most of our clothing is made from up cycled silk saris or dead runs of fabrics that we personally select when we visit our makers in India. While we haven’t upcycled entire garments we do design pieces to be used in conjunction with staples already in a persons wardrobe.


Please share a little about your approach/inspiration for creating your runway look for this international show? What can the audience expect?

I am inspired by a growing awareness of the value of the makers throughout the entire supply chain, we have collaborated with LifeLine to upcycle men’s shirts and have them printed by a local printer using the artwork of a local high school student. We also want to create clothing that can be worn by both men and women, we feel blurring ‘identity’ lines takes us closer to the Unity that is so needed to restore a sense of belonging to the supply chain. We also love the growing influence of streetwear on the runway, a break with tradition of highly structured garments on the runaway is a metaphor for us, signalling an accessibility in fashion that should be welcomed.


What would you most like the international fashion audience to know about you and what you offer (or hope to offer) the world of fashion?


Our message is about restorative justice, providing people with an awareness that if they wear clothes, they can be part of a solution to the problems within our current fashion industry. We come back to one simple message - be kind with your choices.


What's next for you? What are your long term dreams?
Everything we do is through collaboration - so I have no idea what’s next, it just depends who emails us to invite us to do something wonderful.


Links -

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

EFWA 2018 Upcycling Challenge Interview with Aroha Langley

Please share a bit about the journey that led you to embrace fashion design as a career.

Well, I come from a huge family and most of them are creatives - carvers, performing artists, designers etc - so I think growing up I always knew I’d be doing something like this. My Nan in particular was a maker and actually taught me what I know in terms of how to knit, how to thrift, how to mend things, basically how to turn nothing into something really beautiful. Fashion design was always going to be THE career choice for me, or at least now, a very, very stimulating and expensive hobby 😊

I know you are studying at at the Melbourne Fashion Institute. Talk about the highs and lows of studying. What do you find easy? What is a challenge?

Everything is a challenge! Finding the balance between homelife, running a business and studying, ensuring my garments and styling is polished and refined and doesn’t look like something that’s been pulled from a Salvos store rack, even making sure I stay true to my ethos and aesthetic as a designer, it’s all hard, but I love it.

Who you are as a designer? Aesthetic? Customer? Brand? Etc.? Do you, or do you plan to, offer a new line each season, create custom work or both?

Right now, I’d describe my aesthetic as clean, androgynous and urban. I love working with simple silhouettes and then referencing some of the loud, iconic trends of the 90’s. All of my garments are made from sustainable fibres and recycled fabrics and where possible, I’ll adopt zero-waste construction techniques. The pieces I create are unique, handmade and in most cases, one-off items, so I think at this stage, the extent of my output would definitely be custom work.


I am so thrilled to have you a part of the EFWA Upcycling Challenge by Marilyn R Wilson and Dalija Vlahov. Have you ever upcycled used garments before? If so, how?

All the time. I ALWAYS thrift and alter or re-style my personal looks, especially when I have an event planned. Actually, most of my assessments to date are based on upcycled garments. I find way more satisfaction, creatively and ethically, when reusing something that already exists.

Please share a little about your approach/inspiration for creating your runway look for this international show? What can the audience expect?

My runway look is inspired by Korean streetwear, combining colours & prints that aren’t typically well matched but I think do work in creating a punchy, statement look.


What would you most like the international fashion audience to know about you and what you offer (or hope to offer) the world of fashion?

Definitely to help promote that being fashionable doesn’t have to come with a hefty price tag, either on the environment or the pocket. There is an opportunity, especially for new designers, to encourage sustainable fashion, and I think in a sense we actually have a responsibility to do so.

What's next for you? What are your long term dreams?

I think the idea of collaborating with other designers and creatives is a pretty exciting concept - exchanging ideas, working around differences of opinion, understanding someone else’s design ethos and creative process.With that in mind, I’d LOVE to collaborate with local Aboriginal artists, maybe create some inspired prints that remind us of stories of an old Australia.


Links - 

Sunday, August 26, 2018

EFWA 2018 Upcycling Challenge Interview With Tracy Kim of Trixed Up


Please share a bit about about the journey that led you to embrace fashion design as a career. 

I don’t think it was ever a conscious decision to become a fashion designer. I have been making my own clothes for a while now as I was slowly becoming more disillusioned with clothes from most retailers, particularly fast fashion. The quality wasn’t there, and it felt like everything was pretty much the same in every shop. I came across Refashionista and loved what she was doing, and I learnt along the way about the impact that fast fashion was having on the environment as well as ethical manufacturing processes and decided I would try to buy my clothes from the op shop or make them myself for a year. I really enjoyed the thirill of the hunt for the perfect pieces to either wear or transform, knowing I was being environmentally friendly, because you never know what you might find at the op-shop! That has slowly transitioned to making things for others as well, and trying to pursue it as career.

I know you earned a BA from Murdoch University in English, History and Creative writing, but your design/sewing skills are self-taught.  Talk about the highs and lows of studying. What did you find easy? What was a challenge? 
 
I loved all of the reading working on my degree allowed me to do. I am fascinated by other points of view and thinking about how authors minds work to tell the stories they do. I found I loved putting together my points of view or trying to express an idea through storytelling. 

On the exact flip side of that, I find it very hard to put myself out there for others to judge as I am quite introverted by nature and the thought of pouring myself into a piece to have it negatively received is terrifying. While I do realise that it is all part of the process and a necessary part of growing and becoming a better designer/storyteller, I do struggle to balance to two. 


Who you are as a designer? Aesthetic? Customer? Brand? Etc.? Do you, or do you plan to, offer a new line each season, create custom work or both? 

At the moment I am a stay at home mum, so trying to find time in between school runs and entertaining my 4 year old, my designing and sewing comes in fits and spurts. I try to be inspired the pieces I am transforming, or the fabrics themselves. Its usually how I approach op-shopping, I don’t necessarily look at everything on the rack, I scan for a fabric that calls to me and then see if I can work with the garment. 

My aesthetic is a little bit edgy, a little bit quirky, a little bit nerdy and most often with a print or pattern. I like to be a little bit different, although not necessarily cutting edge or alternative.
My customers are most likely female, in their 20’s or 30’s who understand the value of hand made and the environmental impact of fast fashion. 

While I don’t currently have a collection, I hope to introduce a new line of sorts each winter and summer, if not each season. I say line of sorts because at the moment I don’t do the same piece in different sizes, I hope to create similar items from my op shops finds that will be unique as well. My latest inspiration is a line of jackets embroidered with art deco designs. 


I am so thrilled to have you a part of the EFWA Upcycling Challenge by Marilyn R Wilson and Dalija Vlahov. Have you ever upcycled used garments before? If so, how? 

I am so thrilled to e part of the Upcycling challenge, thank you again! As you will have realised by now, most definitely yes, that what I do! Sometimes the transformation is as simple as chopping some length of a dress to make it more fashionable. Sometimes the changes are more invisible in that the garment has fit issues and a simple seam or dart can change it from dowdy to fitted. Often I will find items that are damaged so I will change a dress into a skirt to remove the issue if I cant fix it. Other times I will completely remake a piece into something else if the fabric allows, by deconstructing the garment and staring from scratch. I find its about working with the fabric and not trying to force it to do something it cant. 

Please share a little about your approach/inspiration for creating your runway look for this international show? What can the audience expect? 

When I saw the challenge, I immediately wanted to enter, because it is something I am passionate about, and while I love labels like Cue that are Australian made and designed, I would really like to have a part in changing perceptions about eco-fashion. My inspiration came from just thinking about how I could make a whole outfit from one men’s shirt (hopefully!) without it looking like a shirt. I also like to work with the existing garment if I can, so I didn’t want to completely deconstruct the shirt, that’s why I have left the button placket on the back of my design. Hopefully the audience can see you don’t have to reinvent the wheel to have a fashionable and eco-friendly garment. 


What would you most like the international fashion audience to know about you and what you offer (or hope to offer) the world of fashion? 

I want them to know that fashion and environment can work together. I want them to know that just because your Mum or Grandma wore a dress doesn’t mean it cant work for you. I hope to offer not only my own take on eco-fashion but inspiration and the means by way of tutorials and even classes so they can do it too. 

What's next for you? What are your long term dreams? 

I’m honestly not sure what’s next for me. I will keep refashioning at home and hope to grow my presence online through a blog and social media. I would even like to get in some bricks and mortar locations if possible. My long term dreams are to be able to share my hopes for recycling garments with as many as possible and have more people take a critical look at how and where they shop for fashion. 

Links - 

EFWA2018 Upcycling Challenge Interview with Regina Bochat

Please share a bit about about the journey that led you to embrace fashion design as a career.

I have always loved clothes and fashion for as long as I can remember. I think it was something I inherited from my Dad and his sisters, who always appreciated well made clothes and shopping at department stores. Growing up, I loved playing dress up, especially at one of our close family friend’s house as they had the most exquisite dress-ups including wonderful ex-dance costumes.

As my baby sister got older, we played endless games of dress up, doing our hair and makeup for photo shoots, emulating one of our favourite TV shows - Absolutely Fabulous. We had a little children’s plastic sewing machine which we loved making Barbie Doll clothes on. I got my mum to teach me how to sew on her machine out in the back shed and spent many afternoons altering my clothes.

As I got older I liked finding unique (and cheap!) clothing at op shops. I have always loved expressing myself through what I wear and admired others when they did the same. I love bold, authentic, stylish fashion choices that tell a story about the wearer - making an impact.

Through high-school I enjoyed studying drama, sewing in home economics, art, and craft classes. In my final 2 years, while focusing on University Entrance exams, I chose to study mostly sciences to help with my physiotherapy degree.

I completed university and worked as a physiotherapist for 5 years. However, Fashion Design had always been my ‘dream job,' one I never thought I could make a reality. But as I started craving something creative as a way to express my unique perspective, and seeing my partner pursue his dream career as a filmmaker, I decided to take the plunge and look into pursuing fashion.

Last year I started volunteering with Eco Fashion Week Australia, and this year I enrolled in a Bachelor of Contemporary Arts- majoring in Fashion Design, at Edith Cowan University in Perth.

I know you are currently studying at Edith Cowan University. Talk about the highs and lows of studying. What do you find easy? What is a challenge? 

It has been really interesting coming back to Uni to study Art after doing such an intensive degree as Physiotherapy. I find Uni such a joy as designing, making, and working creatively is so fulfilling. I always feel better no matter what kind of day I was having. Also, coming in with a big of life experience, and knowing 100% I want to be there and make the most of it, is really empowering.

Challenges can be trying to work in a way that is completely new to me coming from a science background where there is usually 1 correct answer. I like to accept all challenges and push myself to develop my design skills. It can be very hard when you start work on making something and realise you were on the wrong track, that you need to step away from it and start something fresh. You have to not your ego get too bruised but focus on growing as a designer. Of course another challenge is time as I am also juggling work and other commitments to pay the bills etc.

Who you are as a designer? Aesthetic? Customer? Brand? Etc.? Do you, or do you plan to, offer a new line each season, create custom work or both?

Currently I am just emerging as a designer. I am looking forward to using more upcycling in future work, and would like to work towards zero or minimal waste practices. I would like to make Avant-Garde pieces for events, and all of my pieces will tell a story as part of a concept. I would love to create annual or seasonal collections, as well as doing custom work. I look forward to seeing where my journey will take me.


I am so thrilled to have you a part of the EFWA Upcycling Challenge by Marilyn R Wilson and Dalija Vlahov. Have you ever upcycled used garments before? If so, how?

As I mentioned, I used to upcycle my own clothes as a school student. For my 19th birthday, I found a beautiful vintage skirt at an op-shop that I worked with a seamstress to upcycle into a party dress. I have recently de-constructed and re-constructed a skirt and top into one garment for a university project.

Please share a little about your approach/inspiration for creating your runway look for this international show? What can the audience expect?

My approach and inspiration for this piece relates to my family, where I grew up, and conservation. The audience can expect scale, 3D, tactile, and earthy themes in the piece.



What would you most like the international fashion audience to know about you and what you hope to offer the world of fashion?

I will offer my passion for garments and the knowledge that power that what we wear can have on us and others - it is a form of communication. I will offer stories and messages, a window into who I am as well as a vehicle to spread awareness about what’s important to me.

What's next for you? What are your long term dreams?

Next I would like to enter a larger collection into Eco Fashion Week Australia. I would also like to finish my fashion degree and continue to create beautiful garments long term. My biggest dream is to show in Milan Fashion Week.

Links –