say "hello" to one of the most incredibly talented artists i have ever had the pleasure to meet: Olivia Hooper.
i met Olivia when she needed a doll model for her clothing line at Olivia'sUltimate on Etsy. little did i know...not only are her doll clothes the cutest, but her children's clothing is amazing! (and all those sweet little characters on the front of her dresses...all drawn by Olivia!) then, she did me the wonderful favor of sending photos of sweet little Ruthie in her clothes, and i discovered this woman is one heck of a photographer, too!!
Olivia is an amazingly patient mother of two, an attentive spouse, an intelligent business person, and a loyal friend. all in all, the total package. i am blessed to call her my friend, and i know you will love knowing more about her...
~When did you begin dressmaking and photography?
Dressmaking: I started making upcycled dresses early this year, and people really encouraged me to sell them because they liked my fabric combinations. Opening my Etsy store was a hard decision because I wasn’t sure if there would even be a demand. I finally decided to try it 3 months ago and was surprised at how fast it took off.
Photography: I picked up my first dSLR when my daughter was about a year old. I had a friend who took fabulous photos of her daughter modeling eBay boutique items and I really wanted to learn to take pictures of my little girl so that I could have tons of them rather than go to Picture People or other mall establishments all the time. Next thing I knew I was buying studio equipment, learning all about portraiture, lighting, etc. and people were calling to ask if I could also do photos of their kids.
~Why did you choose your dressmaking style and your personal take on photography?
Dressmaking: There is no limit to upcycling knits. There are millions of old knits in thrift stores to be found and made into something beautiful and fun to wear. My oldest daughter LOVES dresses but also likes to be comfortable. Upcycled knit dresses just make sense for girls her age. Being part of this upcycling community is great. I have made so many friends and learned how to do so many things.
Photography: I love kids. Being able to capture their innocence on camera is priceless.
~Do you have a favorite photo or a favorite dress that you've made?
I’m attaching my favorite dress and my favorite photo.
~Do you also collect dresses or photographs (or anything else handmade)?
I buy upcycled clothing from other designers including chimi and changa, Lil Blue Boo, Nookie Scooter, Jam Clothing Co, Upcycle me crazy, Soren Lorensen design, and Alli Cat Creations. Everyone has their own twist on upcycling, and it’s all beautiful in their own unique ways. I also love Blu Moon Babies for doll dresses.
~At what point did you realize your gift was more than a hobby?
Dress Making: When I sold over 50 dresses my first month. Woo hoo!
Photography: When I started getting 10 boxes a week from designers full of clothing for Izzy to model.
~Please tell us about your workspace.
Dress Making: My studio is my husband’s office. Did I kick him out? ;) Well, let’s just say he’s real nice and let me have it. I just redid the studio this weekend in fact. I now have a counter height table where I do all my cutting at. A large shelf behind it to keep bins of knits and knit yardage. I have a rolling rack full of main print/panel t-shirts that are color coded. A small desk to hold my laptop. A longer desk that holds my serger and sewing machine, a large bookshelf of cubby holes to hold other fabrics, boxes of beads, and baskets below for toys and other kid friendly art supplies to keep the kids distracted while I work.
Photography: Any outdoor space is my favorite because I LOVE using natural light. I especially love areas with green grass, trees, and water. Blue skies are a plus!
~What is your favorite part of the process?
Dress making: Thrifting! Going to find the perfect piece to upcycle.
Photography: I love prop shopping but my favorite part is making the families I shoot for really happy.
~What is your least favorite?
Uploading the millions of photos to edit and listing the dresses on Etsy. Can’t computers work faster??
~What inspires you?
My girls and other creative people.
~What is the best time of day for you to create?
I’d say morning, but I’ve been working really late nights in order to actually get things done!
~Tell me about your biggest fan.
My husband. He has liked pretty much every single dress I’ve made and every single photograph I’ve done.
~What is your strangest request?
Dressmaking: To screen print “Juicy” on the skirt back for a 3 year old. That was the little girl’s nickname.
Photography: To take photos of art work to send to a printer in China for a catalog because the communist government would not allow this artist’s pieces to be transported in and then taken away again. He is a “treasured artist” so his pieces must remain in China.
~What is your favorite request?
To make whatever I want and surprise them!
~Which similar artist do you most admire?
Dressmaking: Ashley of Lil Blue Boo. I use her patterns and I admire that she shares so much of her creative knowledge and work flow. She likes helping the stay-at-home mom in building a business for herself.
Photography: There are SO many I would never be able to pick one.
~Which classic artist do you most admire?
I am a huge fan of Picasso. I don’t always love every piece he’s done, but I admire him for experimenting with so many techniques and mediums.
~What do you know now that you wish you knew when you began?
I think I’m so new at this I’m still learning and have so many questions!
~Tell me an artist you’d like to have subjected to these questions?
~What is your favorite flower?
*a giant "thank you" to Olivia for sharing with me! all photographs and interview words in black are owned by Olivia.