June 22, 2020 / Personal
Weekly Hero - Kristen of RETHINK Tailoring and Sewing Lounge
During these troubling times I have found myself wanting to do something more. Actually, I’ve always wanted to “do something more” but I’m often not sure what to do and I feel helpless. When Covid19 began to spread across the country I began to notice a lot of people stepping up in different ways, some small, some going above and beyond. I want to use this space to highlight these wonderful people on a weekly basis. This is my way of “doing something more” by highlighting the positive moments and people that are out there making a difference. It is only a small thing I know, but it makes me happy and I hope it will make you happy too. If you know of someone that you think would make a great Weekly Hero please let me know!
Kristen and I met back in about 2005 or 2006 when we both worked at Urban Outfitters at the Mall of America. Oh, those were the days! We both went on to bigger and better things!
In the Fall of 2009 she and her boyfriend Louie moved to D.C. for his job. In the Spring of 2010, she and a fellow ginger haired friend opened their own tailoring and up-cycling shop called Ginger Root.
The summer of 2011 I photographed Kristen and Louie’s wedding that they returned to Minnesota for. This was when I felt like I really experienced Kristen’s amazing creativity and drive!
- She sewed her own wedding dress from pieces of 3 family wedding dresses.
- She made all of the bridesmaid dresses.
- She made all of the groomsmen’s ties.
- I’m sure she did other things that I just can’t remember now!
- I was just blown away by all of her creativity and artistic ability!
She and Louie returned to D.C. to continue their lives and create new ones. Once Kristen and her business partner both became pregnant they had to shut down their tailoring shop Ginger Root in D.C. as their lives were heading in new directions.
Kristen began rebranding for her RETHINK Tailoring for a short time in D.C. and also started her resizable children’s clothing line Ginger Bean in 2015.
In 2017 they moved back to Minnesota! Kristen was busy being a mom, but she was also inventing/producing her resizable children’s clothes for Ginger Bean up until 2019 when she rebooted RETHINK and began tailoring/up-cycling out of her home.
Come 2020 she found the perfect spot for her shop, Rethink Tailoring & Sewing Lounge, less then a block away from her home. Her plan was to have a shop once again for tailoring and up-cycling but this time with classes. Tailoring as many garments that already exist and getting them back into rotation. It was very important that the clothing items be 1 year old or more; items that people have in their closets that they are holding onto for whatever reason but they don’t fit right anymore.
She had her grand opening on March 14th 2020 and then had to close her shop immediately the next day because of Covid19. They found out that an employee at the coffee shop across the street from them tested positive for Covid19 and they had all been there recently and it was just a little too close for comfort.
So now what? Kristen just opened her space to welcome people into for tailoring and classes and in walks a major world wide pandemic. She can’t do any of the things she was planning on. But she felt the need to do something.
She took action. She found out that Blue Cross and Allina needed fabric masks. She learned the pattern needed and she and her team of 4 other seamstresses started sewing. Kristen even created a video tutorial for other people wanting to make masks. In the time span of less then 3 months they ended up sewing over 400 masks and donated them to 14 different establishments including hospitals and homeless shelters.
Amidst all of the mask making she took on another project as well. Kristen received a call from an employee at one of the elderly care facilities that had been hit hard with Covid19. They needed isolation gowns for the staff to keep them safe. Kristen collected the regular hospital gowns from the facility that had to be carefully transported and sanitized. Once they were cleaned she had to add sleeves to the gowns and tighten up areas like the neck. She had to apply this to over 200 gowns! After asking out in her community for donations she was able to cover the cost of extra supplies and finish the project.
Was she making any money on any of this? Hell no! She told herself, “It will all work out, no income yet, but it will work out.” Kristen reluctantly (she didn’t want to make money off of a pandemic but she needed to make ends meet) began selling her masks online to bring in some income. Buy her masks and find classes here: rethinktailoring.square.site
Then, the murder of George Floyd.
Kristen’s shop is only a few blocks away from where George Floyd was murdered by police.
Then the riots.
In order to secure her shop and everything she had been working for she had to board up her windows and move everything out of her shop and into her garage. Fortunately her space was not hit. Her place was still boarded up when I visited her but a warm Summer rain prompted her to remove the boards from the front door.
Kristen continues to help out in her community. After the riots, many homeless people were displaced and set up camp in a nearby park. She went to help pass out food and of course donated more masks.
Kristen sees a a brighter future, with less waste and destruction and more reusable items. She sees a cleaner, healthier and more accepting future for her children. A future where we respect our Earth and we do not discriminate against one another based on the color of our skin, sex or social status.
Now that’s the train that I want on!
Follow Kristen’s progress and new inventions at: https://www.instagram.com/rethinktailoring/