What started as a passion project of repurposing and repurposing old clothes turned into the start of a growing small business in the Central Valley for Xitlaly Ocampo.
Amid the COVID-19 pandemic and with a call to live more sustainably, Ocampo started teaching herself how to repair, sew up and recycle her own old, thrifty clothes.
“Restitched” is now Ocampo’s small, part-time business where she transforms second-hand clothes into popular clothing trends and iconic pieces of clothing.
However, it wasn’t just his creative tweaks that made his company stand out. After finishing her full-time job, Ocampo spends hours creating Instagram reels and TikTok videos promoting her work with unique iconic costumes and beautiful dresses.
“I offer a variety of handmade items,” said Ocampo, who lives in Visalia. “I’m starting to get noticed without trying as the girl who makes Selena’s purple costume. That one is very popular.
The pandemic is a catalyst for starting a business
Before the pandemic, Ocampo received an old, second-hand sewing machine from her best friend, but after trying to come up with a simple design, she failed miserably and decided to give up.
However, in the first few months the pandemic hit, Ocampo found herself with plenty of free time and started learning the basics by watching YouTube videos and online sewing tutorials.
At first, Ocampo started small by making face masks – a must-have item at the time,
But as she began creating one piece after another, she was inspired to create items outside of her comfort zone, much like the infamous brown one-piece ensemble that late Tejano singer Selena Quintanilla wore. at her last gig before she was murdered.
— Xitlaly Ocampo (@XitlalyOcampo) August 12, 2020
“I have another Selena costume that I’m doing where it’s like the little black bolero and then there’s the cow print sleeves and then the skirt,” Ocampo said. “So this one, obviously, is a super simple upcycle.”
Watch: ‘Restiched’ offers sustainable clothing options
Teddy Bears in Quinceañera Dresses Are a Hit With the Gen Z Crowd
Ocampo has created several iconic pieces of clothing as a result of Selena’s costume, like Michael Jackson’s infamous Billy Jean jacket and tons of outfits suitable for kids’ costumes, including teddy bear Quinceañera dresses.
@restitchedbyxo This is my first time doing this type of project and I loved being able to reuse dresses that people normally wouldn’t spare due to staining. 🙌🏽 #upcycled #quinceañera #quince #quinceañeradresses #thrift #latinamade #latinabusiness ♬ Quinceañera – Banda Machos
In Mexican culture, when girls turn 15, they are often thrown an elaborate Quinceañera celebration that involves a formal ceremonial dance. In some cases, young women are given a toy like a doll or a teddy bear wearing a Quinceañera dress which is meant to signify that it will be their last childhood gift.
It can also symbolize saying goodbye to their youth and if they have younger siblings or cousins, the toy is often passed down to them in the ceremony.
Ocampo says Quinceañera teddy bear dresses have been among her most requested items, especially among the younger generation.
Restitched offers something for everyone
While Ocampo takes great pride in the attention it receives for its upcycled costumes, it also focuses on serving people interested in repurposing and repurposing their old clothes.
“I try to offer a lot of mods just because that’s the core of my business and the reason I started it,” Ocampo said. “I wanted people to think of sustainability as something that not only the wealthy or the elite have access to, as really the most sustainable people are those who have so little because they reuse and get so much out of their resources. things.”
Restitched does not have a website, but Ocampo offers an online form that interested customers can complete for requested services and to receive a quote.
“I don’t have a specific website yet just because I’m small and still trying to figure out everything and how I want it laid out and how I want the customer experience to be,” Ocampo said. . “Because I also think that’s a really big part of people actually saying, OK, yeah, I want you to.”
Ocampo’s journey to sustainability
Ocampo says she was just as ignorant as others about the impacts of plastic on the environment.
It wasn’t until she started working for a marketing agency in Fresno as the social media coordinator for the City of Fresno’s waste department that she began to realize how trash can’t. be recycled.
“So when I left the agency, I felt such a great passion for it and I really started to reshape my mentality,” Ocampo said. “It started slowly with reusable produce bags. So instead of going to the supermarket and getting the plastic bags that everyone will put their fruits and vegetables in, you can use real cloth bags.
Ocampo started reusing her produce bags over and over again, then realized she didn’t have to stop at produce bags, she could reuse whatever she used.
She took baby steps to learn about the different types of plastics that can go in the recycling bin and what goes in the trash, then she started switching to less harmful cleaning products.
Now, Ocampo only uses natural cleaning ingredients like vinegar, water, alcohol, essential oils and baking soda.
“So that really inspired me to keep really looking at what I can do to create my home,” Ocampo said. “To kind of live the example that I want to be set for my children and future generations.”
Fast fashion hurts garment workers
Now that Ocampo is busy creating many of her handmade pieces, it has helped her better appreciate all of the custom clothing and items.
“I was like the worst fast fashion shopper,” Ocampo said. “I would love to go to Marshalls and I would love to go to Forever 21, all of those places because it’s cheap and it’s so readily available.”
However, soon after getting deeply invested in the environment, through her research, Ocampo realized how fast fashion hurts the environment and many of the garment workers who make the clothes.
“I started learning about fast fashion and how terrible it is for the planet and for the real garment workers, the people who make it,” Ocampo said. Many of us, when we go to buy an item, we don’t think it’s handmade. Every piece we wear, even jewelry, is made by someone. It is not made by a factory.
According to the United Nations Environment Programme, the fashion industry is the second largest consumer of water and is responsible for 8-10% of global carbon emissions, more than international flights and shipping. emit together.
While Business Insider, reports that fashion production accounts for 10% of total global carbon emissions, even the simple act of washing clothes releases up to 500,000 tonnes of microfibers into the ocean each year, the equivalent of 50 billion plastic bottles .
Additionally, many garment workers are severely underpaid and at least 80% of them globally are women of color, The Guardian reports.
In 2021, Governor Gavin Newsom signed SB 62, also known as the Garment Worker Protection Act, making California the first state to require an hourly minimum wage for garment workers.
“A lot of times it’s also women of color, which I obviously identify with and I was like that’s not what I wanted my money to support, which is why I slowly started to move on. saving and recycling,” Ocampo said. .
Customers wanting changes or other services from Restitched can complete a request form here.
You can also find Restitched on Instagram and Tik Tok.