Mended Threads Clothing Brand Interview: Where Every Flannel Is One Of A Kind

Picture your life in high school: You had family, friends, boyfriends/girlfriends, schoolwork, and other hobbies to focus on. Imagine having all of that going on at 17 years old and being a business owner at the same time! Two high school seniors from Ocean City, New Jersey are living proof that you can manage the highs and lows of high school while running your own successful business at the same time.
 
 Junior year of high school, Shannon Oteri and Sophia Talese started a business called “Mended Threads” that has gone on to thrive and develop customers from states all across the country. The girls describe their business as a “hand created clothing line that focuses on bringing old thrifted pieces back to life.” Shannon and Sophia took the time to interview with me and give me the inside scoop on everything Mended Threads.


 

Dominique: First of all, for those of us who don’t know, tell us a little bit about what Mended Threads is and where/how it all started.

Shannon: Mended Threads is a clothing brand based in Ocean City, New Jersey that focuses on reconstructing and renewing thrifted garments. Our focus of using thrifted garments has proved to be very beneficial from many different aspects. First of all, it helps the environment because the apparel that we sell is utilizing fabric already created that is not being used, rather than creating garments from new fabrics that eventually put a strain on materials and resources. Secondly, using thrifted garments ensures that no two creations that we put out for sale are ever going to be the same. This concept promotes individuality and it allows for our customers to select an item that will compliment their personality and style. Finally, because we are able to find garments to reconstruct at low, thrift prices, it allows for us to sell our apparel at significantly lower prices to our customers, who usually are within the age range of 15-25. Mended Threads started in November of 2014 as an idea to spread fashion-diversity throughout the halls of our high school and was able to expand to other schools, communities, states, and countries thanks to social media!


 

Dominique: What sizes do these flannels come in and how many different styles do you offer?

Shannon: The flannels that we create do not have specific sizing. All of our original garments are usually found in the Men’s section of most thrift stores with the intention that they can be worn and styled in an oversized fashion. We decided to not use sizing because we felt that most people are obsessed with their size and without a size, we hope that our customers can ultimately feel comfortable in a Mended Threads garment regardless of whatever size they are. However, we have reconstructed and sold hundreds of flannels ranging from infant sized to flannels that comfortably fit full-grown men. Our classic style of flannel that we offer is with swapped details such as collars, pockets, and flannels. We also offer a “half & half” style flannel that swaps the same details as our classic, but also the bottom half of the shirt and even the sleeves. Each shirt, as previously mentioned, is unique and we take that into account when deciding which part of the shirt we change. We are working on more styles of shirts, including shirts with swapped backs, various shaped swaps, shirts that have thrifted denim jean accents, shirts embellished with lace trims, and more. 


 

Dominique: Do you plan on continuing the business way into your future once you graduate high school or do you have other big plans for yourselves?

Shannon: Ultimately, I would like to continue working with fashion in the future, but I also believe that it is important to help the environment, as well. Because we are more of a seasonally-based business, it would be possible that Mended Threads will be able to continue after we complete high school. However, as Sophia and I have different goals for the future and will most likely be attending college on opposite coasts of the country, there will be challenges in figuring out exactly how Mended Threads will continue, so for right now we are not sure. 

Sophia: As of right now I think we plan on continuing the business throughout college. Although we will not be attending the same schools and most likely will be in different states, we will still try to create and combine our creations for Mended Threads. I think this could bring a whole new dimension to our flannels as we will be inspired by our environments.


 

Dominique: What is your “go to” favorite outfit look when you throw on one of your flannels?

Shannon: My personal style revolves around comfort. On a lazy and chilly day, I will wear one of our flannels with leggings and a scarf; However, in the summer I will wear a Mended Threads flannel over a bathing suit or to work over a simple dress. Depending on the shirt, I will also wear jeans or shorts. On the “Photoshoots” tab of our website, we have some outfit inspiration ideas for styling Mended Threads with denim!

Sophia: My outfits Vary but I like layering flannels with dresses, tights, boots and thick socks. On a more casual day, leggings and a t-shirt with chucks and a flannel are always a go to.


 

Dominique: Do you have any clothing brands, models, or designers that inspire you or that you look up to?

Shannon: I feel most inspired by French street style as well as brands such as Madewell, Free People, and Urban Outfitters. My fashion inspiration icons are Caroline De Maigret, Lou Dillion, Mademoiselle Agnès, Audrey Lombard, Olivia Palermo, and Julie Sariñana. I often find fashion inspiration through Instagram, Youtube, online fashion blogs, magazines and fashion trend websites. 

Sophia: I’m all over the place with what I wear. I can be in Forever 21 clothes on day, Free People, I basically just shop for what I like regardless of the brand. I love anthropology for their whole concept though. Their entire company is so focused on the details and this makes it magical.


 

Dominique: An interesting and unique part about Mended Threads is that the models in your brands photo shoots are hand picked and some of them are probably even friends of yours! (Although it looks like they just stepped out of a California modeling agency!)  How do you decide who gets to model for shoots?

Shannon: Aw, what a compliment! Thank you! Our website models are all friends and family who live close to us! We usually ask people to model for us the night before a shoot and the amount of people that we ask depends on their availability. We do not have any appearance or style requirements for a model, just whoever we can envision wearing our apparel. For our Instagram, we follow the same method of selection, but we also often repost photos of our customers wearing their Mended Threads shirts! 


 

Dominique: It is a huge accomplishment to have your own company up and running at the young age of 17. Plus, it has been so successful! Did you ever think that it would become as successful as it did?

Shannon: Definitely not. We originally started making shirts for ourselves, but then decided to see if anyone else would be interested. Mended Threads is something that we both take pride in, because we are very detail orientated. We spend a lot of time selecting garments from multiple thrift stores, laying out and deciding which shirts to swap, the sewing process, our social media appearance, and our website appearance. We have invested in not only equipment to create these garments, but also tools for marketing, such as: cameras, lenses, professional studio backdrops, studio lighting, and we have invested in local events such as town block parties and farmers markets. Sophia and I both believe that giving back to our community and society is very important and we often donate hundreds of dollars of our profits a year to local causes and organizations. 

Sophia: Honestly, I didn’t think it was going to get this big at all. We started out just making them for ourselves when we were bored and then all of the sudden we had a bunch of people wanting them.


 

Dominique: What is your advice for other young girls and guys out there who want to start up their own business but don’t know where to start?

 Shannon: Everything starts with an idea and a passion. I would suggest to anybody, regardless of their age, to first pursue something that makes them feel good. For tips on expanding, I would stress the use of social media as a way of reaching a larger network of people. Social media allows for others to share their tips, experience, and support. Also, it is important to dedicate yourself to the details– especially because when you are starting out small, there is no excuse to why every detail of your business shouldn’t meet your standards. Strive to appear professional, even if you are young and inexperienced.  It is also important to reach out to others and help when you can. It also can be beneficial to involve yourself into your local community because experienced entrepreneurs are often willing to provide tips and insight.  My last piece of advice to inspiring entrepreneurs would be to work with the ever-growing influence of the Internet and include online elements to your business so that you are accessible; whether it be a website, an Etsy, a Yelp account, or an online portfolio.

Sophia: My advice would be to use your passions to find careers. Shannon and I used our prior skills of sewing and our love for fashion to make a business. That’s the key. To first find something that you love and then to take that passion and form it into a career. By doing this, we have been able to be successful because it’s not a chore or job but a hobby and passion that we just so happen to make money off of.


 

 I’d like to thank Shannon and Sophia for taking time out of their day to do this interview with me!
 You can check out Mended Threads on Instagram @mendedthreads  
To buy a flannel of your own or as a unique gift for your family and friends visit their website at mendedthreadsusa.squarespace.com
Be sure to check out the pictures below to get a look at some of Mended Threads flannels!

Are your threads mended?”

FullSizeRender (14)
©All pictures belong to Mended Threads
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