Transcript

Olesya Lane

Hello, everyone. Hello, Megan. My name is Olesya Lane and I'm founder of Seven Crafts Boutique and the Slow Fashion Bus.

Megan

Excellent. Thank you so much for coming on to this show. I'm so excited to hear about this.

Olesya Lane

My story is long one. Great. I was born in Ukraine. In case you're wondering what's up with my accent and my corporate career and my education. We're not connected to creativity or textiles or fabrics or sewing at all. And it's just my path and the way it was developing during the years. It just brought me to the stage where I just love upcycling and I love teaching people and I just promote Extel waste reduction in everything I do.

Megan

So how did you get. What was the catapult from your corporate life into figuring out about sustainable fashion? Upcycling and then going and saying, like I this is my calling. I have to go do this.

Olesya Lane

You know, I had my first upcycling project around 25 years ago, and I chopped my father's T-shirt and made it all for myself.

Megan

Did you know or was this a surprise?

Olesya Lane

Yeah, they they knew. My parents knew about that. And my mom had the sewing machine at home and knitting machine. So I was growing in this environment, watching my mom making things, sewing things. So my first project went five years ago and I was making jewelry from small bits and pieces. And I was embroidering my jeans with beads and I was making handbags for me from my mom's old bags. So it was like all the time I was making something from something. And, you know, there was no such words, probably upcycling at the time. Upcycling it's making something new from old item and to make it a better value for you. For example, something that is not you know, you haven't been using for a while. And then you made something. And it's really valuable and you appreciate it more and you use it more and you like it more. So that's upcycling this prefix up. That's what it's meaning. And my first diploma was English teacher and then management and then I did and being played relations and nothing to do with fabrics or fashion. But I was still working with clothes, you know, mending, upcycling. I was still doing it. And there was a turning point. We moved. I've been living in the Middle East for almost a decade and we moved to the UK a few years ago. And I noticed that there are so many charity shops here. And, you know, my sign fell off.

Megan

Were you want to get it or. It's fine. Oh, that's okay.

Megan

 And I know that there are so many charity shops here, and they started asking questions what's happening and why and where the clothes goes, where it is coming from, you know. And I discovered I did research and I've discovered that. So it's not really good what's happening. So I started really raising awareness and talking to people about that. So it was a point for me when I had, you know, turning point. I cannot say I was really depressed, but I was really anxious because kids were growing and I had to think what I'm going to do with my life. And I was about to make her own decision. I was thinking either I'm going to college and study something and get a job here and. I had two options, either environmental protection or counselling and mental wellness or started doing the research and see how I feel about it, and my creative voice was so loud at the time that I felt. But even worse by doing this research, because my creative voice thought that I'm going to make her own decision and my creative voice will not have a chance to speak again. Ithesef I become an employee. You know, I wouldn't have time to do all this things and create beautiful items and teach others. So I just decided to drop the idea. And I started giving sewing classes instead.

Megan

Wow, that's crazy. That's so inspiring. Especially what I'm interested in is you had said that you had sort of learned about charity shops and the just basically how they weren't. Living up to their promise, I guess, can you talk a little bit more about that?

Olesya Lane

Only 30 percent of all donated and collected clothes in UK. Only 30 percent is being sold in the UK in charity shops. The rest is being exported to Africa, Eastern Europe or to be sold on secondhand markets. And if it's not sold, it's landfills or incineration. Only one percent of all clothes can be recycled in the world. Only one percent. Why? Because of the way it's made. It's low quality. It's mixed fibers. And, you know, fabrics is low quality and threads polyester. You know, viscose 50/50 cotton polyester. So it's not really possible to recycle it and make something really, really worth, you know. And that's unfortunately how it works. And on the planet, we have at the moment enough clothing for six generations of human race. If we look at you, if you look after it in a proper way, so it will be enough for six generations. I heard it in Great British Sewing Bee. It was a shock. And unfortunately, not many people know about that. They just take things to a charity shop on the hope that it will be looked after. And they do something good.  Unfortunately is not the case to make a pair of jeans. Let's say it takes around seven thousand gallons of water in addition to chemicals, dyes and waste, cotton is very thirsty. It needs a lot of water. And there is a big problem with it. Rivers go dry. And, you know, Indian farmers, they commit suicide because they take loans and they cannot repay it. It's really difficult to grow cotton you know, pesticides. And it's really difficult and complicated issue on one side. We have sustainability. And another part of the problem is corporate, social, social responsibility. It's about safe and healthy conditions of workers, their wages. And all process starting from growing cotton, for example and up to, you know, the point when we buy items from the shop.

Megan

That's interesting. Especially, you know, you're talking about. Basically, we all have to do something both sustainability and corporate. When you're talking about six generations of clothing, do you mean in terms of all of the fast fashion stuff too, or is that separate? How do we get better at not being so terrible in fashion with things like that.

Olesya Lane

There are so many ways. For example, if I ask you to go for 200 days without buying anything, you would you be able to do that?

Megan

With the caveat that I do mostly shop at thrift stores. So something new for me? Probably not. I know in my head I think I could do it, but probably not.

Olesya Lane

Charity shops and the vintage markets. It's an exception. So you don't buy anything. It's not something new. It's pre-loved. So that's fine. Some people are struggling a bit about it. You know, the thing is with our mentality is some people have prejudice against pre loved and vintage, but sometimes you can find really gems there. I buy vintage pre loved. And if you take your stuff to charity shop, then you need to be ready to buy something from there. It's I think, you know, that's how it should be. Let's be fair. Instead of buying, some people can afford buying from sustainable brands. And instead of doing that, they buy, let's say, 10 items. Then they spend one hundred pounds. And instead of buying, let's say, two items of good quality that they will cherish, they will look after in a proper way. You know, it will be something not only for one season, it will be something classic looking, classically you know, colors, shape could fit, you know, so it will be much better. Instead of going for 10 items and throw them away without any respect.

Megan

So it sounds like it's a case of quality versus quantity, right? And I think that a lot of people have issues with just the consumeristic culture that we have. How do you recommend. Like, what are the baby steps to get out of that?

Olesya Lane

You just need to. All right, to have an organized wardrobe is very helpful. So, you know where things are, what you have and for example, there were some studies and around 40 percent of average women, they are struggling to find something in their wardrobe at least once. And 10 percent of women, they get very upset and depressed even when they open their wardrobe. And then there are some numbers, like around 30 percent of women. They have something that is too tight or too loose in their wardrobe and it's easily fixable. And you just need to organize all your stuff, go through it and to find those items that you don't wear. And just think about the reasons why, if it's to tie to lose, it's easily fixable if it's your own size, wrong color, sorry or wrong style. It's also easily fixable. I have a sample for you example to show. Yeah. They found a pair of trousers, formal trousers.

Megan

That's amazing.

So that's the case when you change the style. I don't wear formal clothes anymore because for me, corporate, my corporate job was, you know, in the past trousers. So to make them casual, very casual. I dismantle my son's pair of jeans. That's when they were small and were wearing this pair of jeans from the early learning to walk, you know, and put them patches. And this pair of jeans will was patched here before.

Megan

You know, I love that. I love the embroidery.

Olesya Lane

Yeah, it is a patch on denim, on jeans. When they were wearing. Yeah. So I put them as these patches like this.  And when they wear this pair of trousers, people ask me, oh, well, that's good. And I tell them a story and they love it, you know? Yeah. And for me, getting dressed in this way. So people notice me and people talked to me and people asked me questions. And then for me, it's a way it's a chance to talk about the situation with charity shops and, you know, textile waste. So it's really useful. And I tried to always dress and have my handbag that I will. That was made from school jumper. Oh, wow. Yeah. And also, you know. So for me, it's like my clothes. Conversational. Conversation starter. Ice breaker or showstopper. Yeah. I really love this. That's when the garment has the story to tell or memories. You know, it's really something to hold on to. I really like it. It's cool.

Megan

I love that. It's a new way to love a memory, I guess.

Olesya Lane

Yeah, that's true.

Megan

One thing you had mentioned was mental wellness and how cycling can contribute to that. So, you know, just seeing the joy in your face as you talk about the story behind these trousers and how much you love that, you know, you've been helping other people discover upcycling and sustainable living with clothing. So what changes have you seen in terms of other people's mental illness and mental health and anxiety or anything like that?

Olesya Lane

I've read a lot about it. And it first, of course, I'm happy to see when they inspire people and when they make tthesehis tiny steps and when they do something. And I see my students' first project and it's amazing, absolutely amazing. And they love it and they're happy. And my recent intake in my online course, they're doing already some embroidery and it's like, you know, absolutely nothing interesting. A blouse, great color. Yeah, it's a bit boring. It's and I can see the destiny's charity shop of this blouse,  but my student, she did embroidery around the neck line. And then along the closure with white yarn, white and beige together. And it's really, really nice. And then she did embroidery some flowers where the brochures are usually worn on the shoulder and it's close to face. So it will be noticeable and it makes a really big difference. So they're excited. They're very happy to see the results. And when they post their projects, you know, they're really proud of the sales. It's really great. And I know that it's difficult to keep up with fashion fast fashion trends. Right. It's really difficult. It's not good for our wallets, our mental health, because it's pressure, additional pressure for our heads, our minds. But when you learn something, you learn the skill. It definitely will boost your self-confidence. And you get this fall moments from your family and friends. And then you will tell them, let's say, oh, I learned this and I did this. And then you will be able to saw hand saw small gifts for your family and friends as well and hand me gifts I really, really valued. They're appreciated. It's something special, I think. And even for me, I noticed when I do maybe ten, fifteen minutes, ten stiction before I go to sleep, I relax. No matter how full my head is with thinking, oh, never, never ending. I relax hand stitching. And it really helps. And that's why it's called slow stitching meditation. I was gonna say it sounds like it's meditative for you. Yeah. Yeah. It's it's really great. It relaxes you have some me time. Relaxing time. It's really good. What would you do. Maybe crotchety on eating or hand sewing or something else. Any hobby. Any craft. It really helps. And it's good if you can find time for it to relax. It is important. So you mentioned briefly that you're doing a course about this.

Megan

How does that work in terms of I know you said before that, before we had started this, that you were doing it face to face, but now because of covered and everything lines. So how does that all work?

Olesya Lane

Yeah, I had a few difficult weeks when everything. And my life stopped and I couldn't teach face to face. For me, I think it's unfair to keep all my knowledge, ideas and inspiration to myself. I need to share it with people. I mean, if I was given this, then I might my purpose to to learn to teach others. And I learned myself a lot. I learn, I practice. I experiment wherever imaginable and unimaginable things. And then I teach the best bits to my students. So, yeah, when we had the lockdown and I didn't know what to do, I. And then I just started writing the tutorial video tutorial. And it went so easy because my corporate career, part of my job was writing procedures and policies and flow charts for big multinational companies. That's perfect for tutorials then. Years. Exactly. And here I just need to write something, what I'm passionate about. So it was so easy. I absolutely loved it. So I made a tutorial and then I thought, okay, let me convert it into an online course. And I made five videos for five lessons. I created five worksheets, added some extra information, which you will need to learn in order to cycle your garments create unique pieces. And what aspects are included into this project? Upcycling called upcycling. Yeah. What you need to do. What you need to take into consideration and put all additional links. Additional information. Some tasks, you know. And some reference to my tutorial, of course, because there are some theory projects and tips. What to do. What not to do. And just put it out there. And yeah, that's how I didn't expect it to be like that. I loved it. Yeah.

Megan

That's amazing to me that you found this and you loved it so much that you taught it to other people. And you're building this community of connections. And it's for a greater good to you know, it's not just, I don't know, a class about. Something that doesn't have a higher purpose. You know what I mean?

Olesya Lane

Yeah, yeah, that's true. And that's probably something that pushes me every day, keeps me awake sometimes at night. My ideas and you know.

Megan

They never stop. I know.  I am someone who loves thrift stores, but is not handy with a needle. For someone like me, how do I start getting into upcycling and, you know, having more? I guess, consideration for my clothing.

Olesya Lane

Visual amending is good. If it's not upcycling, you can do. You can try visual mending. It's absolutely gorgeous and visual mending can be something, you know, if you have, let's say, defect or stain on your clothes, you can do some embroidery on top of this. The fact and cover top on this will be as well, visual mending. And if you use, let's say, a big blunt needle with know big eye. It will be very easy to you to use it for embroidery with yarn. And you can. I don't. Oh, yeah, probably. I can show you this here. You have embroidery with yarn or a ribbon. So there's no there with ribbon. This is what you use the big blunt needle for its centimetre ribbon. And you just put it through a bigger needle eye and you embroider it. So that's how I did. And that's embroidery with yarn.

Megan

That's brilliant. Yeah.

Olesya Lane

If you just if you don't do any big projects or any creative stuff. greySo if you just use this line, just simple stitch running stitch on your maybe solid color blouse, maybe gray brown, something that is not really give, giving your face the sparkle, you know, some color. Not really our colors. So you can add something like this. Right. And, you know, make your garment more joyful. Just maybe two colors around the neckline and something. You know, there are different ways. And as I say, I mentioned it at my course once. If you apply Marie Kondo's principle in upcycling you do it like that. You take a garment that you haven't worn for a while. You hold it and then you give it some love. And then you look at it and then you see what's missing. And then you have this special connection. And then this garment will tell you what's missing. And this government will help you with projects. That's pretty.

Megan

And I love that. But I looked at it all revolves around a story. Right. So it's the story of how you got this piece of it stuck to you and how you get customized it. I love that. I love. You know, I think that a lot of people are afraid of expressing themselves, especially in a corporate environment or something like that, where they can't, you know, they have to be more conservative or so I think that. You had mentioned that the student with the beige and the white threads, and I think that, you know, what I'm getting from this is it runs the gamut. You know, it can be this story that stops people in their tracks. And where is that from? Where did you get that? Or these little, you know, these little touches that just make it so personal to you? I love that. And it just can run the gamut of that.

Olesya Lane

Yeah. Yeah, that's true. Yeah. It makes it really unique and personal because that's also the skill that not everybody can do for different reasons, you know. But once you try, even a little tiny detail will make a big difference.

Megan

So where would you recommend a person, let's say they've been they have a sewing machine and I know a lot of people have been making masks and happen, you know? So what is the someone who has a sewing machine and has been, you know, dabbling in this? But now how do you how do you advise them to go to the next level with it? It depends what you would like to achieve. If, for example, you know, already you have a few governments that you don't wear.

Olesya Lane

And I suggest you start working with them first. So if you would like to start upcycling, start something you as upcycling, you need to stop doing a few things. You need to stop buying new clothes, and you need to stop taking your clothes that you don't wear to charity shops when you stop doing these two things. Then you have already a few items that you can work with. And for example, if something that you don't wear and you don't, you're sure 100 percent that you will never wear it again. Then you can use this fabric for patches, for appliques, for any details that you can add. For example, here, if you look on the front, even changing the buttons, it makes a big difference here. I think brown buttons, they were here and these are yellow buttons. And this is men's type. Oh, my goodness. That's great. And it matches this scene here. And it's silk tie. I'm sure everybody can have will have a few ties that they probably no longer wear. My our husbands and brothers, relatives, friends, they can donate you to play with them, you know, or you can buy them in charity shops. One hundred and one pounds or two pounds. You know, they're so cheap. Yeah. Yeah. So that's little detail. I edit, I cut the sleeve. It was long sleeves and I know this and change the buttons, even changing the buttons. It will make a big difference if you don't want to do anything extreme like this. Change the buttons. Yeah. Detail here. Maybe if you have ribbons at home more. Any dreams you can use them to add detail on your color here. Just whatever you like. Once you start you will have an uninterrupted flow of ideas for six.

Megan

And I love that you can just kind of, you know, look around and just find new purposes for things, like you said, the ties or scarves or all those. So tell me about your Facebook page that's your main hub right?

Olesya Lane

 I started this Facebook page in 2017 and I called it Seven Crafts Boutique. And at that time it was number seven on. These were different things that I tried all different crafts and I use different objects and it was just before I took textile fabric direction, so. And then I thought, OK, what I'm going to do? And textile. And I had this idea, I had this idea, big project, to have a sewing gig around the UK. And I imagined myself in a camper van or something like that, going there, the places and telling people what's happening with fast fashion and what's happening in charity shops, you know, and show them basic sewing techniques, mending and show them what they can do with their items, upcycling. And just give away basic sewing kits. I have them already. And then we had this pandemic. And so I had to stop. And then I decided I'm going to take it all online. So that's how my website was born slowfashionbus.co.uk And I have a group as well Slow Fashion Bus – Upcycle and Mend. So this is where I share ideas. And the plan is to have four weekly maybe webinars, one now or something to chat with people and share my ideas projects and show them a few stitches. So just some, you know, free shot sessions shutting stitch.

Megan

I love just taking the literal sewing circle, I guess, and putting it just there.

Olesya Lane

Well, if someone doesn't want to so they can bring their knitting projects and sit in front of the screen and show us what they are doing, you know, or crocheting or embroidery and you know, it's different.

Megan

So in that group, like, what is the just most out there thing you've seen so far as someone like I a Mohawk out of fabric or something?

Olesya Lane

There was a lady from Bristol, I think, and she was them showing us here, embroidery projects, raised embroidery. And she showed us a few projects that were already completed and were framed on the wall. Absolutely amazing. And this is something that I was reading about in the book. It's called Stomp Stomp Work. And it raised embroidery. And that's the technique that was used. 16TH century New England and 17th century where people were embroidering fine cusk with heal cleaning. And it's very, very delicate work. And there are a few of them preserved in museums and they're very beautiful. And still we're using the same technique. And it's really beautiful. And she had made some of those. Yeah. She made some landscapes like little garden scene, you know, this sort of nature. Some kind of beauty.

Megan

Yeah. So for someone who wants to find out more information about this, where would you direct them to go about embroidery?

Olesya Lane

Just about. All about. Well, do your upcycling in a sustainable fashion. Oh, yeah. My website is the first point where everything, all information is there slowfashionbus.co.uk  and 7 Craft's Boutique is my Facebook page. And please. Yeah. Have a look. Welcome. I post everything to old places so. Yeah. Oh my links are there.

Megan

Well fantastic. And I will link to that on all the shows too so everybody can just head right to it. Thank you so much. This has been so interesting and I love seeing all of your designs. You know, for those who are listening, go on YouTube and we'll show you all the designs. But go to Olesya's page too is that you can see all of those fun things. Thank you so much for this. This has been so informational.

Olesya Lane

Thank you, Megan, for having me. And I hope whoever's listening. I hope you will check the information and you will get interesting, you know, and try to do that.

Yeah, absolutely.