Last weekend, Calico hosted a pop-up shop with local denim designer, Ali Grace, of aligrace Revitalized Fashion!
This 21-year-old entrepreneur is the literal definition of "girlboss." From her super-cohesive and sexy branding, to her laudable mission to reduce fashion waste and recycle vintage denim, Ali Grace (her actual first and last name) totally has her sh*t together. I was so impressed and inspired by her work ethic, focus, and style! Read on to learn more about this Southcoast-based creativepreneur or watch our recent Facebook Live to get to know aligrace!
So Ali, you're still in college! Where do you go to school?
Yes! I go to UMass Amherst and I'm going to be a senior in the Fall.
That's awesome! What's your major right now?
At UMass, I actually have the liberty of creating my own major! So what I've done is draw in a bunch of different classes, departments, and subjects like math, statistics, computer science, graphic design, marketing, and business to pull together my own unique major as an artist and entrepreneur. It's really cool, because it's given me the skills and experience to do exactly what I want to do!
What inspired you to create your brand?
Since I was 7 years old or so, I've been creating my own designs. I've been working with denim since I was little, and I would make denim skirts and things like that. As I got older, I realized I really loved making my own pieces, and that I could actually make them better than the ones I was buying in stores. I knew how I wanted them to fit and what I wanted them to look like!
What made you decide to focus on recycling vintage stuff -- particularly vintage denim?
Well, first of all denim is timeless. It's not going anywhere; it's classic. Working with vintage Levi's has been great, the material is SO soft and perfect. There's just so much denim out there, so I feel really good about recycling it. There's no need to make or buy new fabrics, when we can use what's already been made! I like working with denim because everyone can wear denim, everyone has a pair of jeans! No one is saying "I would never wear denim!" And it's so easy to work with!
What processes and customizations do you do on, let's say like a pair of shorts?
One of the styles I like to do is a simple cuffed short, for these I like to use the classic Levis 505's, because they have such a nice high rise. I have them in a four different washes, light, medium, dark and black wash.
Then I have a medium level of distressing, which is just distressing in the front and maybe a little on the back pockets. I like to do these to vintage Levi's 501's, 505's and 550's.
Each pair I make is unique, and I don't have one particular process. I've learned a lot by trial and error, so now I really know what works and what doesn't!
On my website, I've starting to offer more customization, so you can choose distressing on the hemline, butt cut shorts, cutting away the flap over the fly and other little design details.
Do you see your brand evolving to include other types of clothing?
I've recently added chokers! I use leftover pieces of denim from my cutoff process to make these -- I don't like to waste or throw away any fabric! I think everything should be repurposed.
I would love to expand into men's fashion eventually. Right now, I do have some distressed men's jeans, but I haven't quite mastered the fit and process yet! I know how my pieces fit women, but it's hard for men because I don't quite know their sizing yet.
And, someday, I'd also like to get into repurposing tops, like vintage sweatshirts and tee's!
What's your favorite part of running Ali Grace?
I love seeing an order come in, making that special piece, and then receiving feedback a week later, saying "OMG I love them, they're perfect." Seeing and hearing people are happy with their purchase makes me love what I do!Totally love that feeling - I feel that way with my own store! Do you have any advice for anyone selling something they've made or someone that's interested in entrepreneurship?
Totally love that feeling - I feel that way with my own store! Do you have any advice for anyone selling something they've made or someone that's interested in entrepreneurship?
For sure! So what I can tell you is I've been doing this for a long time, and I've just finally I got the ball rolling. If your heart is in it, you need to go for it! You can't let little setbacks and bumps in the road get in your way, if you're not reaching where you want to be! There's levels to it; see every move that you make in the right direction as a milestone! You have to celebrate the milestones! Even the little ones! If you're happy and moving forward and love what you do, then you're doing the right thing. Don't let anyone get in your way and just go for it!
Watch our Facebook Live with Ali Grace!