Jenelle Montilone offers sustainable, custom, one-of-a-kind clothing & accessories with a funky twist in her Etsy shop TrashN2Tees. In her interview she tells us how one frustrated mom has created a 100% recycled clothing empire!
Q: What types of items do you make?, what materials do you use and where do you find these materials?
Jenelle: Each original design is hand cut and made using 100% reclaimed clothing. Materials used to create TrashN2Tees designs are hand picked and collected through TrashN2Cash, local collections, or purchased at thrift stores. TrashN2Cash is a clothing recycling program I established for my customers which offers both incentives and an outlet for recycling unwanted, worn out, and stained clothing. The program will be expanding to include local bin collections and pick up options in Central Kentucky.
Q: How long have you been doing this type of upcycling? What inspired you to try to make something with what would be considered ‘trash’?
Jenelle: As a mom, I became frustrated with the lack of "cool" clothing available for the boys. I really wanted to dress them in fashion that reflected their own quirky personalities- so over 3 years ago I pulled out an old sewing machine, gathered up stained & worn out clothing, and whipped up a monster truck design. Looking back now, it really wasn't that pretty... (as I shudder at the thought of wonky stitches.) Either way, that pin points my "ah-ha" moment. Little did I know, I was yearning for a creative outlet and a platform to raise awareness for a cause that I am passionate about, environmental protection. I spent a lot of time honing my craft & teaching myself many different aspects of sewing. I joke that I've found a way to combine all the loves of my life and call it a day job. But really its true.
Q: What have been some of your biggest accomplishments and proudest moments regarding your craft and/or shop?
Jenelle: TrashN2Tees has earned some amazing press & recognition on venues like Halogen TV, Practically Green, Green Child Magazine, Build A Little Biz, Etsy, and various other eco/crafty blogs. I was recently named A Leading Mom in Business according to StartupNation.com. They're all proud moments for me, but I get really geeked out by the genuine connections I am able to make within the community I've been able to build and be a part of. To hear that something I've done or been a part of directly inspired you to take action fills my heart with fireworks.
Q: What are your goals for your shop? Where do you see your business in the next few years?
Jenelle: I am currently working with an app developer to create an epic & revolutionary product that will change the way you recycle. A goal I have for 2012 is to become more involved locally. I hope to create some events this year that will give people a hands on opportunity to repurpose as well as establish drop off bins & locations for clothing recycling collections. My Etsy shop goals are for consistent sales & continual growth. Extended goals for TrashN2Tees- I would be ecstatic to be doing the very same thing I'm doing today... with the addition of some hired help (or minions as I like to call them) who will coordinate events, handle the nitty gritty of PR, and oooh! deal with the books. That would leave me plenty of time to focus on creating amazing products and delivering my customers an inspiring & delightful shopping experience. Can I add a personal chef to the list?
|The Mustache Rainbow Clout Set|
a collaboration between TrashN2Tees
and North Star Knits (also on Etsy)
|Custom Order Original|
|Rainbow Striped Hoop Earring|
Q: Where do you get your inspiration for your work?
Jenelle: I gather inspiration everywhere- most often though I am inspired by things that make me smile, laugh, and just bring joy to my life. I noticed that many times my tshirt designs correlate to whatever is trending in my house- hiking, camping, nature or maybe monster truck, baking cookies, or a simple rainy day. I also pay very close attention to Etsy Merchandising Reports for "it" colors and themes.
Q: What do you do outside of working on your shop? Other hobbies, career, family?
Jenelle: I wake up everyday with the #1 thing on my to do list... be awesome! I spend as much time as I can exploring & admiring the world around me, digging in dirt, hiking, dancing like a maniac, and cuddling my boys. I fill in the rest of my days with doodles, scissors, recycling goodness, reading up on SEO and sometimes dirty dishes. (boo)
Q: Any additional information or parting thoughts you would like to share with us and your potential customers?
Jenelle: Though I make every effort to repurpose the materials I have on hand- often creating new products to utilize the scraps- I also work with a clothing recycling facility. I transport clothing and scraps that will possibly be processed into useful goods like rags, insulation, packaging and sound-proofing materials. I want to invite you to join my on my TrashN2Tees Blog where I share tips & tutorials on reusing anything from electrical wire (to make bracelets) and dryer lint (playdoh recipe included) to stylish remodeling of clothing.
You can also connect with Jenelle and TrashN2Tees here:
TrashN2Tees Etsy Shop