In 2011, Sally hopped on a plane and came to Vancouver to enrol in the Fashion Business & Creative Arts Program at JCI Institute. During the program, Sally used her passion for knitting, to specialize in hand knits as well as creating fabrics using repurposed garments and interesting textiles. Since graduating, Sally has featured various collections in different shows and has successfully become a recognized designer in the community. We’re starting this interview with where her passion for fashion started, and what her two upcoming collections with Raw Artists & The Story of Fashion Magazine have in store for us.

Simon Armstrong – Repurposed Curtains

When did your passion for fashion start? 

My story of Fashion began when I was 12. I was introduced to a young brash modelling agent who later became someone I looked up to as a mentor, penpal and friend. Growing up in a small town in Central Alberta, it felt like the World of Fashion was worlds away. Growing up as a Pastor’s Kid, it seemed like there were many people who tried to label me into who they wanted me to be or become. Working in Fashion wasn’t one of those labels. I guess I felt like I connected with Kel, I wasn’t the coolest, prettiest, or most confident girl in High School, yet I had this powerhouse behind me who was a modelling agent, and scout who was busy making his way in the world of fashion, but no matter what always took time for me regardless of what I had going on in my life. I look back now and realize how much of a gift that was. I think that I thought back then that my path was to work in the modelling industry, but it didn’t work out. It wasn’t meant to. I needed to discover and follow my own path. I ended up back in Sylvan Lake, where my Mom taught me the beat of knitting, and I instantly fell in love.

Did you always know you wanted to focus on knitwear?

Yes, and No. When I first started to learn knitting I would walk up to the local two /four store in the middle of the night, and browse through the magazines looking for knitwear. I also watched every fashion show online to see any signs of knitted pieces or scarfs. It was through this – I felt so ALIVE. That is when I started branching off from just knitting scarfs. I would look at the shapes of garments and would work out my own patterns. It was a very exciting, scary, and satisfactory ( when something worked out) time for me.

Sally Omeme

Alfonso Arnold – Repurposed Jeans and T-shirt

Have you always been passionate about the repurposing of fabric?

One of the first times I repurposed fabric was for a school project with JCI. The project was to turn a white T-shirt into something else. My roommate gave me some of his old t-shirts and I cut them up and knit a scarf from them. That is what came naturally for me. For my end of the year Fashion Show. I was asked to design a small knitwear collection instead of styling for my segment. I literally couldn’t afford food, let alone materials. So once again I took to repurposing garments. It was later that year where I was a volunteer at Eco Fashion Week, where I was inspired by the concept of the 68-pound challenge, where you take 68 pounds of wasted materials and recreate a collection. I thought to myself, ” you are already doing that.” I approached Eco Fashion Week, showed them my Eco Knitwear, and showcased with them later that year.

Soon people were donating “special things for me to recreate things from.” I was asked to create another scarf from the T-shirts of a friend’s Dad who had passed away. I was able to create a fur vest, two scarfs, and some fur key chains from someone else’s fur coat. I was given doilies that were made from a lady named Dagmar who was 93 years old and loved to crochet. I was able to sew some of them into my sweaters. Tom gave me his wife’s wedding dress that I was able to repurpose into a knitted creation.

These are my PASSION Pieces because I feel like it is my responsibility to make something special because I know their story. When someone donates something to me, they are trusting me to create something that makes their loved one live on. Also, I love this thought of how God can use the broken, ugly pieces of our lives, and create something beautiful from them.

I started my journey into Fashion at an older age. I was actually in Health Care first, I thought my dream of working in Fashion was dead, but one day I just hopped on a plane to attend JCI, and then things started to happen from there.

Sally Omeme