Change Makers - Abalonia Koomans O'Reilly from RE.CUT
Without a doubt, since I started this journey with The Upcycle Movement, my favourite part has been the inspiring people it has connected me to and allowed me to discover around the world.
Our Circular Post is about sharing the story of these inspiring upcyclers and change makers who are helping to make the world go round.
I want to shine a light on the good news stories and efforts of those who are working hard to actually do something to tackle waste.
Whether that is in a big or little way, it all makes a difference.
Their imagination, determination and creativity to remake and bring new life to something is incredible and inspiring.
This Circular Post is dedicated to a wonderful, colourful, extremely talented, West Cork fashion upcycler..
Abalonia Koomans O'Reilly from RE.CUT
Tell us about RE.CUT
RE.CUT is a sustainable slow fashion brand based in West Cork that makes colourful clothing and accessories out of offcut and upcycled fabric. I guess my motto would be that every piece of fabric has potential, I believe that even the smallest scrap can be used up to make something great. I started RE.CUT as a way to use up fabric scraps I had collected during my years sewing and then started sourcing old clothes from charity shops and taking these apart to upcycle too.
What motivated and inspired you to start RE.CUT?
I always knew I wanted to create and design. Growing up with parents who were conscious of having a low environmental impact, I gravitated towards upcycling and repurposing. I loved dressing up and sketching designs, enjoying more fantastical or vintage looks over modern fashion. I decided to study costume design in Dublin, and while there became more aware of the waste created in the making process. I started saving all my offcuts as I couldn't bear tossing them out. After a few years working in costume and styling, I started to play around with all the scrap material, and eventually settled on the mosaic & patchwork style that is RE.CUT.
What is the problem that RE.CUT aims to solve or address?
With RE.CUT I hope to play a small part in keeping fabric waste and second hand clothing from being dumped in landfills and on the doorsteps of countries in the Global South.
Where do you source your materials from and who makes your gorgeous products?
I source second hand clothing from charity shops, mainly off bargain rails. The fabric offcuts I use have been gathered from all over including many lovely donations. I design and make all RE.CUT pieces here in my studio in West Cork.
Why do you think that upcycling and repurposing are important?
I think they are important because there is already so much in the world due to fast fashion and consumer culture. This is having a massive impact on peoples lives and the environment. It’s also important for people to see the possibilities of upcycling and know that their old clothing, furniture etc does still have potential, things shouldn't just be discarded without thought. I think there’s a great sense of pride that comes with being responsible and conscious of what we buy.
What do you find is your biggest challenge?
I find my biggest challenge so far is marketing products and my business. I love the making and creating side but social media and marketing is a whole other world.
What is one thing you have learnt from running your own business?
I’ve learnt that there is a lot more involved than just the design and creating side of it. It can be overwhelming sometimes so I find that it’s important to look to loved ones for help and support when things are tough.
What is your favourite thing about what you do?
I love getting to work with such varied materials, there is always problem solving to be done which I enjoy. It's great to see how the design evolves as it’s made. Sometimes they can change quite drastically as I run out of a particular fabric or change my mind as I see another colour or texture that works better. That is definitely my preferred design method, an evolution during the process.
If you were to give advice to someone starting out wanting to start up a business in upcycling what would it be?
Do it now, don’t wait around worrying that it won’t be good enough. Even if you just start small, I think it’s very important to be doing the things we love. The more people coming up with creative ways of tackling waste the better!
In your everyday life – tell us about a change you have made to help lead a more sustainable life. Do you have any tips to share?
I try to shop locally where possible. I go to the local market almost every weekend to get groceries, plastic free, and also get cleaning products and soaps refilled. I recycle as much as possible and have a home composter.
One tip I use when shopping for something that isn’t really essential is to put it on a list. Keep an eye out for the items on your list second hand. You would be surprised with how much you can find in charity shops or freecycles, and sometimes this extra time makes you realise you don’t really even need it.
What are your hopes for RE.CUT going forward?
At the moment RE.CUT is a growing passion project, but I’d love to be doing it full time. My hope is to do more markets this summer and also set up a website for all my creations and ideas.
Thank you Abalonia, you are an inspiration!
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This blog was written as part of our Circular Post - keeping you posted on environmental initiatives and designs that are helping to make the world go round.
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