Local entrepreneur breathes life into old fabrics by upcycling
Born out of necessity and a life long passion, Janelle’s Upcycled and New Fashions came to life this July after owner Janelle Clyke found herself without a job due to the global health pandemic.
This, along with some encouragement from friends, pushed Clyke to pursue her passion for recreating clothes and reducing fabric waste into a business.
Located on the second floor of the newly renovated Goodman Building in downtown New Glasgow, Clyke has a small shop filled with her creations and commissions from clients. She has made it her mission to help cloth stay out of the landfill by repurposing it. This is not something new to her though, she shared that she has been doing this for a long time.
“I grew up as a minority and poor but none of my friends ever realized that,” she shared. “I would sew my own clothes.”
Working with what she had as a teenager Clyke would take to the sewing machine and renew clothes she had or found into designs that were one of a kind. She carried this through to her adult years. While working as a student support worker at Northumberland Regional High School Clyke shared that when the school would have too many larger sizes of shirts ordered that people were not interested in purchasing she would alter them to make them more appealing to students who would then be more inclined to buy the clothing from the school. Although it was just a side project she completed on her breaks, she enjoyed taking on the project.
“I had no idea how many people could not sew,” said Clyke. She said that students would also sometimes order altered clothes from her requesting certain items. With her new store, Clyke has been making clothes that she finds second hand as well as donations to make her creations.
“I get these items donated to me and I price them for my time,” she said, making most of the clothing affordable to many. Each item includes a tag telling the customer what the item used to be or what it was made from so they can see the transformation. Making use of her crafty skills Clyke also crochets and makes custom orders for babies such as the clothing many parents seek for newborn photoshoots such as mermaid tails as well as basics like hats and mittens.
“I’ll have knitted hats and scarves here at a reasonable price,” she said adding that her goal is to have a free basket where people in need of these items as well as things like winter coats can come find what they need without having to worry about money.
Along with custom and re-altered clothes, alterations, and crochet projects Clyke also offers custom vinyl prints which she also adds to upcycled clothing to make it look just how she envisions it. Because she can create custom vinyl projects she also does custom shirts, handmade masks that she puts logos or words on, and more. Recently she has been creating company masks with logos as well as Black Lives Matter shirts.
She mentioned that she had run into some trouble with the Black Lives Matter clothing she is making when residents of the county began posting threats and hateful comments on a buy and sell post on Facebook to let people know that they could find the shirts locally. The post has since been removed and Clyke added that she will continue to sell the merchandise in her store.
“I can’t keep anything in the store,” she laughed about how popular the altered clothes have been. She sees the business as fulfilling a need. “I just hate seeing things wasted,” she said.
When most second-hand shops would throw out a ripped shirt Clyke says she welcomes it and is happy to use the clothing to create something new for someone to wear from a crop top to a cloth grocery bag that can fold up to fit in your purse.
When it comes to clothing and culture Clyke welcomes it all, as she hopes to offer some specialized products made for black hair care, which she sometimes recommends to those who are curious about her dreads, to creating barber smocks, cosplay costumes and sewing ears on a hoodie.
“Our mandate is to stop textiles from going into the landfill,” she said.
Showing off some of her upcycled creations, Janelle Clyke stands in her new shop located on the second floor of the Goodman Building in New Glasgow. (Brimicombe photo)