By Alison Rooney
Sally Streets, of Beacon, on Saturday, Oct. 12, will open a monthlong pop-up shop called Sleepwalker at Denise Gianna Designs, 480 Main St. Most of the merchandise was made from bedsheets purchased at estate sales.
How did you come up with this concept?
I had done a lot of deconstruction in my 20s, like T-shirts torn apart to make them funky and sexy. Sewing has always been a creative process for me, and my skills were progressing. And I’ve always loved estate sales. I went to one that had amazing vintage floral sheets — a treasure trove of cute fabrics. I got a bag of them and decided to make a sundress for my [preschool] daughter.
Did you find fabric anywhere else?
Beacon Art Studios, where I work, is also a puppet studio, and seeing all its leftover yardage and remnants made it come together. There’s so much [secondhand] fabric that is thrown out, and in some ways it mimics more expensive fabrics because it’s already broken in and soft. I put all the fabric through a sanitation process of two hot-water washes and discarded anything that didn’t look fresh.
What did you make?
I came up with 11 affordable product lines, including lounge wear, lunchbox napkins, tote bags, pants, dresses and meditation cushions, with prices from $5 to $18. What I’m trying to prove with Sleepwalker is that products can be made in the community at a living wage, then sold at a price that’s within $5 of the box stores, by using repurposed materials sourced locally. The concept is a bit eccentric. We’ll see if people buy.
Do you think some shoppers may turn up their noses?
I don’t know if repurposing is taking hold, but it’s important that it gets considered versus buying something that is shipped from far away, where they may have different regulations in terms of dyes, etc., and lots of packaging. We should look at the things we’ve purchased in terms of the value that went into the work, as opposed to the best possible price.
You’ve written that the project is “dedicated to Old Beacon, New Beacon and Future Beacon.” What do you mean?
Old Beacon represents the recent past and the history of manufacturing here, including textiles. I’m a gentrifier — I came up from Brooklyn — so I’m aware of the divide. But part of being a cohesive community, where people of all different backgrounds can coexist, is people earning a proper wage to enjoy the change and growth that New Beacon brings. Future Beacon is a mystery, but if the two groups can combine, the city will be a more harmonious place. Small projects like this can make a larger difference. Even if people laugh, the seed has been planted and the next time they won’t laugh as hard.