One of our new Makers this year is Ericka McThenia, doing business as ErickaLoveLeigh, creator of handmade, upcycled bowties. Her work is really unique and beautiful and we asked her to tell us a bit more about her craft.
GCMC: What do you Make?
EM: I mostly make bowties but am starting to make regular neck ties and dog bowties, as well.
GCMC: Why bowties?
EM: I make bowties because I think they are incredibly fun fashion accessories. My boyfriend wears them and gets a lot of compliments and has continued to encourage me to make more. Sewing is one of the ways I can express that creative side. And I love the satisfaction of wearing the creations.
GCMC: What inspired you make them?
EM: The first bowtie I made was actually a Secret Santa gift for my boss a few years ago. Shortly after Christmas, my grandfather – who was an avid bowtie wearer – passed away and I made some bowties four my cousins to wear at the funeral. Since then, the bowties kind of took on a life of their own and have evolved into this little business.
GCMC: Why do you what you make is important, or good for other to know about?
EM: My bowties are made from old clothes, and I do this so as not to use virgin cotton. This is important because if you know anything about agriculture, you may know to water and energy intensive cotton agriculture is and how damaging the runoff and pesticides can be to the environment. By using second hand material, all the bowties become a sustainable fashion choice and give many discarded clothing items a new life. After all, they say fashion recycles itself.
GCMC: Why do you think Gulf Coast MakerCon is important?
EM: I fancy myself a mover and a shaker. I’m a Tampa native and I love seeing my fellow Tampanians creative side. And I love that Tampa has so many markets and ways to promote and display our creativity.
GCMC: What do you hope to get out of attending MakerCon?
EM: I hope to spend the message about sustainable fashion. I also hope to make a few people look good and feel good.
GCMC: Anything else you’d like to add?
EM: Everyone can wear a bowtie. By no means are they only a man’s fashion accessory. Annie Hall is perhaps one of the most identifiable women in menswear. It’s simply an accessory to complement your personality and I guarantee you’ll turn a few more heads with my designs.
If you’re looking for a new look, or to accentuate the one you’ve got, check out ErickaLoveLeigh’s booth at Gulf Coast MakerCon 2016!