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Sally Ann and Shelby

With fashion week taking place this month there was a lot of hype about style. With all that, I thought it’d be great to introduce you to an alternative fashion – not one you’d find on the runway. You’d find this one in arts markets, at pop up events, and in a Shasta Compact. That’s not the name of a designer; you can take that as literal as you read it. Actually the designer’s name is Sally Ann, and the Shasta Compact’s name is Shelby. Inside of Shelby, you can find a boutique. dsc_4944

I don’t get many Saturday mornings off, but when I do I head over to the Riverside Arts Market. That’s exactly where I first ran into Shelby, then into Sally Ann. I knew as soon as I stepped inside, I wanted to write the longest post I could about them! First blown away by the creativity, and then when I got out of my daze, I noticed that everything was hand made by Sally Ann herself. Sally Ann started out making handbags and purses and added in sleepwear and lingerie. Not the typical lingerie you’d find in some secret place. If that were the case, I would never be writing about them.

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You can follow the thread back to Sally Ann’s very beginnings when she was 7 in Muskegon, Michigan, where she grew up. Her mother gave her a sewing machine, told her how it worked and let her at it. No real training, just a lot of practice. Sally Ann’s first shop started out on Myspace when she was in college. Ah, good ole Myspace. Not only did she post her collections on Myspace but she was able to sell her pieces in local record shops. That’s where the history begins, but let’s fast forward to Shelby. Sally Ann would go to trade shows with a routine of setting up and breaking down, the not-so-fun parts. She was looking for a way to make it a little bit easier on herself. Low and behold in the country of Greenville, South Carolina would she find Shelby. Shelby, a human selling her 1973 Shasta Compact but waiting for just the right person to sell it to. She told Sally Ann she knew the potential the Shasta Compact had and didn’t want to sell it to just plain ol’ anyone. When she heard the visions Sally Ann had she knew it’d be the most perfect fit. Sally Ann named her mobile boutique after the original owner, Shelby. Shelby has many stories of her own so let her tell you over on Sally’s webpage.

One of my favorite parts about Sally Ann in our conversation was her telling me every piece she ever creates is second hand. The only thing you can find that is new is some of her hardware. That’s only due to the fact that hardware is hard to find second hand. If it isn’t second hand then you can bet it’s vintage or older fabric.

We talked about clothes today and how the quality of fabric now just doesn’t match up to what it used to be. This began a discussion that added encouragement and inspiration to my own personal thinking. Sally Ann not only sews with secondhand materials, she personally only wears second hand items. If she finds something she likes but doesn’t quite fit her, she tailors it to herself. She majored in anthropology, and that’s where she discovered the human cost behind products.

Those $2 shirts at Forever21 travel back to an unfair wage to a person making them. Hearing that, it just doesn’t sit right for most of us, right? It doesn’t sit right at all with Sally Ann, to the point she only buys secondhand clothes. If she’s not going to buy secondhand she’ll only buy from places like Threads for Thought, which focuses on sustainable apparel. Sally Ann wants to know where something is made and said something to Morgan and I that I couldn’t shake, “Value what you buy.”

Usually, when we interview our people of the city, they’re huge city advocates. Interviewing Sally Ann was a little bit different as she and her boyfriend just moved to our beloved city last year. So what’s her take on Jax so far? “People are so nice here!” She noted how people are always doing something and the rest of our community is so supportive. If someone has an idea, we have some of the biggest encouragers.

If you can’t find Sally Ann at RAM on Saturdays or Winter RAM you may find her at European Street, Black Sheep, or Burrito Gallery.

She’s found something she loves, that she’s great at, and has turned it into a living. Sally Ann sews all week and sells at Riverside Arts Market. If she’s not there, or if it’s the off season, you can find her stuff online. Don’t forget to keep up with her on social media and by golly, let us know what cute things you buy out of Shelby!

Amanda Gibson

Photography by Morgan Burden
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