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Teen Entrepreneur Finds Passion Creating Wearable Art

Ellie Heath stands next to some of her designs - made of recycled fabrics and adorned with her distinctive artistic touch (Photo: F. Elmasry / VOA)

SEVERNA PARK, MD - Before she could even talk, Ellie Heath used to spend hours drawing. When she grew older, the 15-year-old discovered the joy of sewing.

“It is my biggest hobby. It relaxes me. It started off with earrings and felted mice, and then I eventually got into sewing and jean jackets,” Ellie says.

Her passion for creativity inspired her to become an entrepreneur. “Three Blue Bunnies” is the name of the company she founded to make what she calls “wearable Art.”

“My definition of wearable art is something that makes you feel unique. It’s one of a kind often handmade,” she explains. She sells her products in farmers markets, local church fairs and craft shows.

Ellie Heath stands next to some of her designs - repurposed jeans jackets adorned with her distinctive artistic touch (Photo: F. Elmasry / VOA)
Ellie Heath stands next to some of her designs - repurposed jeans jackets adorned with her distinctive artistic touch (Photo: F. Elmasry / VOA)

Design comes to her

All the pieces Ellie creates are made of recycled or donated fabrics.

“There is over 21 billion pounds of textile in the U.S. alone, in landfills and I strive to reduce that number, at least a little,” she says.

She is repurposing jeans jackets by adding her distinctive artistic touch on each of them. The process starts with finding the fabrics matching the jackets.

“Then, I find out the design that works on it through trial and error or maybe just the design comes to me,” she explains. “And then, I cut it out and pin it on the jacket sew it on. And all of my jackets are finished with a costumed label that I make that says my name, and the number of the jacket that I have.”

Ellie credits her mother for encouraging her and her siblings to develop their artistic skills.

“My Mom has always been a huge supporter of the arts,” she recalls. “She’s always given us this place to express our creativity whether in musicals, theaters or on paper and fabrics.”

Ellie’s Mom, Amy Heath, an elementary school art teacher who is now a stay-at-home mother, says creativity feeds kids’ brains.

“I think it’s very important for children to have as many opportunities as possible and be inspired by as many objects and people,” Heath says. “Ellie started making earrings and felting, then exposing herself through church craft fairs, and now she’s a member of the greater Severna Park and Arnold Chamber of Commerce. So she’s getting ideas and experiences through other businesses.”

Learning opportunities

Ellie honed her creative skills in middle school at teacher Cheryl Crow’s Family and Consumer Science class.

“It was back in 2011, 2012, I believe, we introduced new classes called Project Runway,” Crow recalls. “It was about fashion and sewing. Ellie, I guess, would have been 10, 11 (years-old), in 6th grade. I remember she was right in front of me. She's a dream student. She was always very involved in the class, always working very proficiently, very creative, but also very kind, helpful to the other students.”

In this class, students learn the basic sewing skills.

“I’m very impressed, but glad that I had a hand in teaching Ellie the very basics to help her develop her skills,” Crow says.

Over the last three years, Ellie has created costumes for theatrical productions at Severna Park High school. Last year, Ellie designed several dresses for school musical “Mamma Mia.”

“This year we will have a big project Cinderella,” drama director, Angela Germanos, says. “That will require expensive costuming. A very tricky one is costume changing from ragged Cinderella to rich Cinderella. We hope to do that transformation right on the stage in front of the audience. This will be a big challenge for Ellie.”

But Ellie seems to like challenging projects. Last year she took part in the school’s Prom gowns fundraiser, organized by Key Club.

“We have students modeling prom dresses that are usually donated by a bridal salon,” Key Club co-adviser, Teri Ann Stahl, says. “Every once in a while we get a student who shows exemplary talent and who would like to show off their designs in the show. We were thrilled to have Ellie volunteer to design a dress that could be modeled in the show. Our student model loved it so much that she purchased it and wore it to her senior year prom.”

Live your dreams

Ellie has many dreams. She wants to be an elementary teacher and be able to spread the joy of creativity among children.

She also dreams her business will grow and become an inspiring model for other young people who have a dream to pursue it and make it a reality.

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    Faiza Elmasry

    Faiza Elmasry writes stories about life in America. She wrote for several newspapers and magazines in the Middle East, covering current affairs, art, family and women issues.  Faiza joined VOA after working in broadcasting in Cairo for the Egyptian Radio and Television Corporation and in Tokyo for Radio Japan.