Marylou DiPietro wears many hats. A self-starter with unbridled creative vision, she’s a published poet and writer, playwright, mosaic artist, wife and mother. And, to add to the list, she’s tapped into her entrepreneurial reserve and has embarked on a journey into the world of fashion.
DiPietro has given faded flannel and worn leather new life. They’ve been “reborn” into kitschy chic computer and IPad cases, handbags, tote bags, even checkbook covers. The periwinkle bridesmaids dress is especially lucky and gets to be Cinderella in its second life. Or, Cinderella’s clutch purse, anyway.
DiPietro started Reincarnations Fiber Studio in 2009 following an encounter with an eager computer store salesperson who tried to talk her into buying a computer case to house her new “green” Lenovo Netbook.
“He said ‘this is the greenest,’ trying to sell me a case made with neoprene. I thought to myself there’s no way I’m going to buy this.”
On her drive home, her artistic side and entrepreneurial spirit had a meeting of the minds trying to come up with a better alternative.
“Almost everyone needs a laptop case, so why not make them out of materials that already exist? I was already a knitter and had been thinking about making things from old sweaters,” she said. “A lightbulb went off, and I decided to try and make a case and a bag out of a sweater.”
Enlisting the help of a friend who had more sewing and pattern design experience than she did at the time, DiPietro kick-started her business and was soon experimenting with a variety of fabrics from used clothes.
“But, I learned pretty quickly that whoever was going to be doing the sewing needed to work on an industrial machine because of the thickness of some of the materials, especially leather.”
A few months after starting the business, DiPietro met Noi McEwen, who is a master seamstress and now does the majority of the sewing and hand stitching for the company.
“She’s amazing — she can sew anything,” DiPietro said of McEwen. “She’s originally from Thailand, has been sewing since the age of 10 and used to make costumes for her grandfather’s Chinese Opera company.”