Amplify V2I1: @made_by_tser
Vermont-native and New York dweller @made_by_tser found a new obsession during quarantine: making her own clothes. The 22-year-old recent television graduate of Hofstra University has always had a fondness for the creative and the crafty, for social media and everything that she learned in her undergrad. Her emphasis is on sustainable clothing, and she hopes to use her talents to reduce her own fast fashion footprint, and inspire others to do the same.
“Over quarantine, I’ve just been creating a bunch of crafts. I’ve just been sitting at home this whole time, no job or anything, so I’ve been sitting at home finding stuff to do. I had a lot of craft supplies leftover from school - I started out making earrings, painting canvases, making mason jar crafts - and then my parents got me a sewing machine for graduation. I just started experimenting with that, and seeing what I could make with that. I started making bucket hats and then it evolved into making shirts, and now I’m making full-blown outfits.”
Her Instagram page, which she started using for her designs in late June, used to house all of her crafts as a way to share them with her close friends. “It wasn’t ever supposed to be like anything crazy, but I looked at it and I was like...This is just kind of a modge-podge of stuff, and it doesn’t even look cohesive - it’s kind of like somebody just threw a bunch of crap on an Instagram page.” After taking a good look at it, she decided to use to share her designs instead, and use what she’d learned doing social media for her sorority and what she’d learned as a TV major in college.
“I’ve always loved social media and Instagram and I try to make things; even my personal page, I always wanted to look very cohesive, like I love editing the photos. They all look the same and so I wanted to make it more like an artsy place to display my projects. When I decided I wanted to make this Instagram to kind of showcase all of what I was making, I knew that maybe I could grow this into something more.”
Growing up in Vermont all her life, Tser says there was little room for her expression through fashion. “In Vermont….like style doesn’t really exist; it’s like you have flannels and Patagonia, and athletics shorts - you call it a day.”
The culture shock from Vermont to Long Island, New York is what really helped her find her own style. “Girls were wearing Gucci belts and going to class dressed up to the nines and at first I was like, ‘oh my god, these people are crazy, like who wears this stuff?’ - and then only like a year and a half later, I was going it too,” she laughs. “It was the first time I actually had fun with my style.”
She describes her style as very neutral, but also using bold prints and colors to accentuate her looks. “I feel like I kind of ‘collab’ my New York looks with my Vermont looks - it’s kind of like a mix between Vermont and New York style,” she says. One thing she says that her style will never be: “girly.” “I’ll never wear tons of pink or things with lace, or bows. I like to wear a lot of black, and while I do like some colors, if I’m going to wear a color it’s going to be green or blue. Very ‘less is more’ but still adding a little element of fun.”
Aside from doing social media for her sorority, Phi Sigma Sigma, during her undergrad, Tser also served as the Membership Recruitment Chair, or MRC, organizing recruitment events. “I just fell in love with the whole idea of putting a look together … I could work on event planning, putting together a whole look, putting together the look of a room and outfit choices for a whole group of girls.”
Although she will be attending NYU in the fall for graduate school in Higher Education and Student Affairs, Tsering says that her love for these passions were really shaped during her time as an undergrad.
“I’m starting a whole new career field in student affairs and higher education, which I’m super excited for, but since I’ll be in New York City doing that at NYU I think it’s a really cool opportunity for me to have this other side hustle going on. New York City is one of the best places to be for fashion so I think it’ll be really interesting to take this there, and bring my sewing machine and then when I’m not working or doing school, that’s definitely something that I’m going to continue to do throughout the year.”
Though she’s excited about this next step and her career, she says that having a ‘side hustle’ is something that she’s always had to think about. “It’s the career I know I’m meant to do, but I also know it’s not the best-paying field to be in.”
As for this side hustle, she began by upcycling her own clothing and making clothing from scratch with fabrics she had around the house. “Sustainability is always something that’s been interesting to me. I think (this past) Earth Day really struck me, because I saw all of these people posting about how clean the Earth is, blah blah blah, ‘let’s save it’, and I was like...how many of these people actually do anything outside or enjoy the planet?”
She says that clothing is one of the ways she impacts the Earth the most, so she decided after college to start thrifting, selling her clothes on platforms like Poshmark, and trying to make her own clothes rather than buying them.”
The pieces she makes now are her style - “chic, laid-back, trendy and modern, and just casual and comfortable.” Her current pieces are all very summery and light, and she’s even using fabrics to make two-pieces sets. “It’s not only trendy but it’s something that is actually a sustainable style: you can wear a two-piece set together or separately and have three different looks going, and that makes it a good combination because it’s going to last longer than buying three separate pieces. I’m looking at how to make more with less, not less with more.”
Reflecting back on her time as an undergrad, Tsering says that she recognizes how much her shopping habits impacted the Earth, and how, by sustainably making clothing, she’ll now be able to reduce that.
“During quarantine is when I kind of starting realizing how much I wanted to minimize my fast fashion footprint, because I realized in college I felt like I was such a ‘I have to go to Forever21 and get something for the next mixer’, and like I’m probably never gonna wear it again.” She emphasized the importance of loving fashion and being stylish, while maintaining more eco-friendly habits and making better fashion choices.
“I think I have a great platform because I feel like sometimes the people who are most guilty of fast fashion are girls our age - we’re big consumers of stores like Forever 21, and all of those huge places that just do one-season trends. The people that I engage with, that I follow, that I’m friends with, those are the kind of people I want to help influence.”
As for the future of her designs, she’s just getting started. Aside from making pieces, which she says are inspired by what she would want to be buying - but making it herself. “if I don’t try, I’ll never know, so I’m testing the waters and seeing where this goes. But I think the opportunities that I have, to continue to do this in New York, is something that I’m really excited about and even just working with other content creators, seeing how they like it and getting feedback, having them promote pieces - I think that’s kind of the next step, where I’m going with it.”
You can find more from her here at @made_by_tser