Much of the fashion we've seen come out of Salt Lake City over the past couple of years has been more of the craft-related kind. Rather than starting off with a single plan or a concept that took weeks to design, these makers are putting together everything from clothing to shoes and jewelry, utilizing everyday items and repurposing them into awesome items. One of the names that's been getting some traction this year has been Stitched Shades
, which has been working with sunglasses to make designs that pop and not fit the standard line found in convenience stores. Today, we chat with founder Camron June about her line and making a name with her brand. (All pictures courtesy of Stitched Shades.)
Stitched Shades on Facebook
Gavin: Hey, Camron! First off, tell us a little bit about yourself.
I grew up in Lehi, and I've lived in SLC for the past 12 years. I graduated from the University of Utah last May, earning a bachelor's in English with emphasis on literature and creative writing. Since then, I've been doing random odd jobs here and there, working on my stitching, and taking it pretty easy. My degree took me a long time to finish, and I needed a break! I'm currently in the tiny town of Gerlach, Nev., working for the Burning Man festival, which will take place at the end of the month about 20 minutes from here in the Black Rock Desert.
Gavin: When did you find yourself taking a real interest in fashion aside from casual day-to-day?
Speaking of Burning Man ... I'd say my introduction to the Burn scene and culture around 2009 really opened my eyes to the idea of finding my own fashion sense outside of what the mall was selling. I made friends with some local Burners who wore some of the most unique things I'd ever seen, and they always looked great. I learned from these fashionista friends that "it's never too much" as long as you feel good in what you have on!
Gavin: What was it about sunglasses that really appealed to you?
Shades are a great canvas, when you think about it. They're these big, blank, black discs right on people's faces, and I find so much potential in that space. I like working on small details, so the sides of the lenses and the areas that people don't actively look through are really interesting to me. I like to put as much as I can on lenses without impeding the vision of the wearer; it's a challenge, but that's what makes it fun!
Gavin: Did you get into designer shades at all, or were you more interested in cheaper and clever brands?
I generally won't spend more than $10-$15 on any given pair. This is partly because I don't want to have to charge my customers a bunch for my shades, and partly because I don't want to be out a bunch of money if they don't sell—I need prescription lenses myself so, sadly, it's not like I can wear any of these leftovers. They're still sunglasses, after all, and they get lost or scratched or sat on or whatever, just like any other pair of sunglasses. So far I haven't heard any reports of my stitching causing any failures for the shades, so people can feel confident that the stitched part of the shades will stay stitched, as long as they take care of the shades part.
Gavin: How did you eventually get into crafting and learning how to work with products like beads?
Beads are actually a new thing I'm working with and sort of teaching myself about. I'm sure I still have a lot to learn in this area, but I enjoy learning as I go. My crafting background is mostly stitching-based. I come from a long line of really amazing needlepoint workers. My grandma taught me at a young age how to stitch, and it's still something we connect through today.
Gavin: Along with stitching, prior to Stitched Shades, what other materials had you worked with?
Before figuring out how to stitch sunglasses, I was a more traditional sort of stitcher
and worked mainly on fabric. Nowadays, I also enjoy stitching designs in metal and wood, using similar techniques as I use on Stitched Shades. One of my favorite stitched wood projects is a pinewood derby car I made for a friend's pinewood derby-themed birthday party.
Gavin: How did the idea come about to create these kind of sunglasses?
As with a lot of craft projects these days, I found my inspiration on Pinterest. I found a link for designer Ulyana Sergeenko's
embroidered sunglasses and loved the idea, but certainly had no way of buying one of her exclusive pairs. So I went looking for a DIY option and found a really useful tutorial on HonestlyWTF.com
. Once I had the basics down, I let my inner designer loose and Stitched Shades was born.
Gavin: What's the process like in creating a new pair, from design to final product?
I try to pick shades that are interesting on their own and then use my designs to embellish what they already have going on. Generally, I'll draw with a marker on the lens whatever pattern I'm thinking of using, and then I'll grab my trusty Dremel tool and make my holes. Sometimes the drill bit goes through the lens really nicely, and other times I really have to work at getting it through. There's no way to know how something will drill until you do it, so that first attempt is always a surprise. Once I've got all the holes drilled, I start adding the embellishments: beads, buttons, ribbon and embroidery floss are usually my materials of choice here. Once the design is stitched and I'm happy with how it looks I secure my knots with my special glue and send them out into the world!
Gavin: What was it like for you going around and both selling them and getting them into shops?
I've been lucky enough to work with the awesome team down at iconoCLAD
to sell my Stitched Shades for me. They really appreciate and value local artists and give a very fair split on the sale price. I honestly can't say enough good things about this awesome local store, they make it really easy to get your art out for the public and they also sell great clothes, too! I've vended at a few of their local artist trunk shows and I'm always impressed with the awesome art that is coming out of SLC right now and how well iconoCLAD does at giving these artists a place to showcase their wares.
Gavin: Do you make custom pairs for people or are you just creating one-for-everyone kind of glasses?
I do custom orders as well as pre-made designs. If anyone is interested in a custom order they can message me through my Stitched Shades page on Facebook
. I also post pictures of new designs from time to time, so if you like the page you'll get those updates as well.
Gavin: Are there any ideas of expanding your line in any way, or are you comfortable with what you make now?
I love the sunglasses I'm making, but I also like trying new things. I never want to get complacent or boring with my art. Nothing is really off the table for me as far as stitching is concerned; I like placing stitches in strange new places to bring it out of the realm of "granny crafts" and into a place where people can interact with the stitching so anything that allows for more of that is what I want to do.
Gavin: Do you plan on getting involved with any festivals or markets, or maybe opening your own shop?
No plans on my own shop at this time. Facebook and iconoCLAD are the best places to find Stitched Shades right now.
Gavin: What can we expect from you over the rest of 2015?
Oh, I'm sure there will be more Stitched Shades hitting iconoCLAD once I get back into town, probably in October sometime. I've been thinking about playing with stitching on goggles for the ski season as well. Some day soon I'd like to work on some large-scale stitching projects as well, maybe a wall piece or something similar. I think it would be really fun to put up some stitched "graffiti" somewhere so maybe I can make that happen soon as well!