Growing up in San Francisco, when I was just four years old I was fascinated to watch my grandmother make her own unique clothing. I learned to sew sitting at her side, watching as she cut, sewed, and embellished fabric into beautiful clothing for herself and her granddaughters, explaining everything to me as she snipped and stitched. When I first started to sew I would pick through my grandmother’s basket of discarded fabric scraps and make clothing under her watchful eye. I loved going to Britex Fabrics in Union Square in San Francisco to choose cloth from the towering shelves of colorful bolts. To this day I remember how proud I felt wearing my one-of-a-kind creations. No one else was wearing my outfits! I was the best-dressed tomboy in the neighborhood.
My life changed forever the day in 1966 that my mother took me to see Gone with the Wind. It was Scarlett’s billowing green velvet curtain dress, designed by Walter Plunket, that caught my fancy. Scarlett’s resourcefulness taught me that you don’t have to be conventional and buy material from a fabric store––you can repurpose whatever is available and refashion it creatively. I never would have guessed that repurposing fabric would one day become my profession and my art.
Like many young people, I needed to leave home to find my way in life. I had taken some classes in fashion at a junior college, but my sights were set on Paris!
I moved there in 1980 to study textiles and became immersed in the life of the city. I couldn’t get enough of the powerful visual experience of Paris, including its fashionably dressed women. I worked there as a stylist for a local designer, a window display artist, and a visual merchandiser for several small boutiques, setting up their floor plans and front windows. As a window artist I would recycle and repurpose clothing, scraps of fabric, furniture, and other materials to create unique displays.
After my stint in Paris I moved back to San Francisco and graduated from San Francisco State University with a B.A. in art with an emphasis in textiles. I started a line of European-styled dresses for young girls made from discarded upholstery fabrics. My love of fabrics and clothing design had to be put on hold for 17 years for a career in financial services. All those years I promised myself that I would one day go back to my sewing machine and design clothing. Finally in 2010 I returned to my creative roots and began designing and sewing cashmere accessories full time.
I’ve learned that it’s always best to follow your passion, whatever it may be, listen to your creative urges, and use whatever you can find to bring more beauty to the world. Rebecca lives in San Anselmo, California, with her husband Robert, an environmental consultant, and their cat, Vern!