Give a girl a sewing machine, stand back, and watch her create a movement.
At least, this is true for Arly, the 26 year old creative mind behind The Thriftsy Gypsy, the San Diego festival fashion company specializing in thrifting, upcycling, and fluffy kimonos. I fell in love with the colorful world of The Thriftsy Gypsy after swooning over her creations while she was vending at Desert Hearts. The vibrant colors, the fearless fluff, the bold sequins- I just KNEW I had to get to know this chick.
The Thriftsy Gypsy is an endeavor that started off as Arly’s passion project, and has now escalated into a tenthold-name within the festival scene. She even has a brick and mortar store in Oceanside, CA where you can attend lively shopping events, and request custom pieces or funky alterations. When asked how difficult it’s been to build her brand, Arly responded, ” It hasn’t really been hard. It’s easy to build a following when you love what you’re doing and following your heart.” This genuine advice is something I think all aspiring entrepreneurs should make note of. When you have passion and drive, coupled with a unique product, you will be successful.
Arly was first gifted a sewing machine from her boyfriend, only two years ago. From there, she decided to take a sewing class at her local college to really get a feel for the craft, and most importantly, learn how to create the kimono she wanted for Burning Man. Well, imagine her excitement when the final project for class was, in fact, creating a kimono.
The assignment called for creating a traditional kimono (think Memoirs of a Geisha), not a sassy coverup for a festival ensemble. Nontheless, Arly did her own thing, and created her version of the kimono. Funky. Fashion-forward. With a hood.
And when it came time for her to present the project, naturally her teacher was taken aback by her blatant disregard for “The Rules”. But instead of getting reprimanded, Arly was given the sound advice to “keep doing what you’re doing.”
However, in between her sewing classes and bartending until 2am, Arly was also dealing with a chronic health condition that continuously put her into the hospital. With constant ER visits and surgeries, comes being unable to work a regular job, and she was forced to take a leave from bartending. Arly had been saving for a solo NYE Euro trip and was sure that she would have to use those savings to instead support herself during treatment. However, instead of dipping into those funds or becoming a martyr, she used all of this as fuel to start her Etsy shop.
And thus, The Thriftsy Gypsy was born.
Now Arly would be able to sustain herself and still fulfill her dream of traveling across Europe. This trip, specifically Berlin and Amsterdam, provided her with vintage goods and flea market finds that really sparked her creativity. Her advice for solo travel? Remember that “Wherever you go, there’s people. They won’t bite. Put yourself out there. You will make friends.”
Fast forward to the now, and we have the wildly unique and ever-imaginitive Thriftsy Gypsy- still doing her own damn thing.
Perhaps the reason The Thriftsy Gypsy is truly one-of-a-kind is because she doesn’t get her inspo from trends or other designers, but textiles. Instead of flipping through fashion magazines, once Arly finds a piece of clothing or a fabric she loves- she spends quality time with it and imagines the possibilities- and then just creates. Seriously. No two pieces of hers are the same, so if you see a Thriftsy item you love- buy it, or regret it. Added bonus: you’ll never have to worry about running into someone wearing the same thing as you.
Whenever I wear my favorite Thriftsy pieces, my sassiness and spunk seem to be awakened. However, for some, wearing bold statement pieces to festivals may seem outrageous or attention-seeking. To that, Arly says, “As much as you think people are looking at you and judging you, realistically everyone is there for the music. It’s a judgement-free zone.”
So basically, do your own damn thing, too.
Arly’s pieces add a much-needed flair to a world that tends to take bespoke fashion forgranted. With fast fashion retailers popping up left and right, there are so many clothes that just go to waste. Thriftsy Gypsy’s dedication to upcycling is a creative step toward a greener future and consumer awareness.
And, while we all have different definitions of success, The Thriftsy Gypsy’s is one we can all get behind: “Success means being able to support myself. To have a company that people are passionate about, supportive of, and interested in. It’s having people involved. It’s creating a movement.”
Want to win your very own Thriftsy Gypsy fluffy kimono? Head on over to my Instagram here.
Photo Credit: @ImKeiki
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