This post was sponsored by Neo Thread and I received an item for review.
When it comes to upcycled goods, there’s a clear dichotomy between “craft” and “art.”
Neo Thread‘s line of secondhand, upcycled, and hand embroidered goods definitely falls in the latter category. I’m all for experimenting with previously used materials to create new and inspiring pieces, but it takes someone special to achieve something remarkable.
Sarah Holley scours Albuquerque thrift shops for base clothing and materials suitable for repurposing before creating one-of-a-kind pieces to stock her shop, like the hand embroidered Peace Hand tee I’m wearing in this post. A testament to her talent, she was able to grow Neo Thread into a full time business earlier this year! I sent over some interview questions to get a better sense of her process and what inspires her.
How did you get started in this business?
Sarah: I started neo • thread as a typical, broke, business, specifically entrepreneurial, undergrad student. I would frequent local thrift stores purchase and modify clothing to my liking and, to my surprise, the liking of others. Students started complimenting and asking where they could shop my look. So, on a whim, I decided to stop getting ready and get started. I had always wanted to start a business that centered around creativity and improving the community and realized that nothing would make me feel ready for this endeavor so I best dive in.
Initially, I sold through Instagram through comments (pre-DM) then moved to Etsy. I graduated college in 2015, became discouraged, dropped neo • thread, and got a grown-up job. But the passion kept tugging at me, I wanted to create: to create well and for a greater purpose. At the end of last year, I decided to start neo • thread back up. I formulated the vision, filed the business paperwork, created the website, and got to work. I was able to leave my job and become full time with neo • thread this last February.
Who is your archetypal customer?
The young, multi-mindful woman; that is, the young free spirit who is ethically, earth and style conscious.
Tell me a bit about your process for selecting base materials and customizing them.
I scour vintage and second-hand stores for high-quality articles that stand out to me. Whether that be in an oddly shaped dress with a great fabric pattern, a cool vintage jacket or top or a cozy sweater in need of revamping, I’m on the hunt for the beauty unseen. For me, it is important that neo • thread clothing makes a statement about its wearer. So, in customizing, I want the pieces to be stylish but not overly trendy. Meaning, you can wear that piece beyond the year you bought it. The fast fashion industry has trained us to throw clothing out after its 7th wear and that leads to more textiles in our landfill. I want to end that! I want to make clothing that is unique, lovable, and lasting.
How long have you been doing embroidery? Are you self taught or did someone train you?
I’ve been embroidering for about 4 years. My aunt gave me a tattered, embroidery book my grandma had given her in the late 1950s. I poured through every page, in love with the art that could be created with such plain materials. As a skill, embroidery is not difficult to learn. However, it requires a great deal of patience, which has been and continues to be my greatest challenge. I have a great love and appreciation for embroidery and hand-stitching for this very reason.
What are your long term goals for Neo Thread?
neo • thread is meant to be bigger than myself, an online shop, or even a place with cool, ethically-sourced clothing. The goal is to create a platform and community for other creatives to take part, join the movement, experience mentorship and do exactly what I do, modify discarded clothing into beautiful new pieces. These seamstress/artists would be mentored and trained on how to create and sell their items on neo • thread. I want these creatives to experience more life, and financial and creative freedom. All the friction of shipping, branding, and boring business work would be taken out of their way so they could focus their energy on doing what they love: creating! Imagine a world with more ethically-sourced clothing, more encouraged and empowered creativity and less and less textile being thrown to the landfill. This is my dream – it’s what keeps me excited and full of hope!
Wearing c/o Neo Thread Tee, c/o OESH Sandals
You can probably tell, but this t-shirt really gets me. It makes me feel cool and comfortable in my own skin. The embroidery is impressive, even more so in person than online. And the base tee has the softness and give of a well-worn vintage band t-shirt without looking like something you would sleep in.
Since all of Neo Thread’s creations are one-of-a-kind, this particular shirt is sold out, but Sarah has other cool tees in her shop, which you can check out here. Neo Thread also carries sweaters, dresses, shorts, and jackets.
Like Sarah mentioned, the goal is for Neo Thread to become a multi-maker marketplace centered around quality, upcycled goods, so if upcycling’s your thing, make sure to reach out and see how you can get your products on Neo Thread.
A note from Sarah: neo • thread co. shoppers are adoringly referred to as neo • t girls. neo • t girls are about the clothing but even more so are about a movement. A movement towards self-expression, sustainability, ethical sourcing, and an empowered community. The movement has been represented with the call to action to “ be a #neotgirl”!