TUPELO • Julie West’s business, reDesigns, has a new location and some new partners, but the mission hasn’t changed.
“When you walk through the door, you’re going to experience creative solutions for people and products, skill building, upcycling and repurposing, and encouraging entrepreneurship,” said West, 47.
West started reDesigns in a three-car garage at her Tupelo home in 2016. The company employs about a dozen women of all ages and abilities. Together, the team makes hand-braided rugs, pillows, bags, wall hangings, placemats, baby quilts, seat covers, tea towels, hand-twisted bowls and custom T-shirt quilts from donated fabric and other materials.
“T-shirt quilts are our bread and butter,” West said. “That’s the thing that has to keep happening for us to keep the doors open.”
Last fall, reDesigns did a pop-up shop at Red Door Antiques on Coley Road. At the time, owner Linda Hale was going out of business.
“There was something about it,” West said. “Linda was moving out and it all started coming together. The Red Door had been here a long time – it was established. It was a natural move for us to rent the building from Linda.”
In May, reDesigns at the Red Door moved into the former antiques shop. The team painted the walls white and lightened the floors in the front of the building to better show off their colorful wares. The back of the building is the workshop, with industrial sewing machines and sergers, tables for cutting and piecing, and bin after bin of neatly stacked fabrics.
“We moved the fabric one truckload at a time,” West said. “I could not believe all that was in our garage and no one else could, either. We didn’t realize how much we really needed to be out of my garage. We couldn’t move forward where we were. We were at a crossroads.”
To help defray costs, West invited like-minded vendors – which she calls makers – to set up their wares at reDesigns at the Red Door.
“It’s not all faith-based, it’s not all special needs, it’s not all upcycling,” West said. “That’s not the way life works. It’s about what you’re going to do with what you have. We’re walking on unchartered territory here.”
On Friday, West invited the makers to a meet-and-greet so they could get to know each other ahead of the soft opening Tuesday. Kevin Rose was there to show off his handmade wooden spoons and crosses made from black walnut.
“I was struggling with an illness a couple of years ago that took the use of my hands and lower legs away,” Rose said. “I was trying to fit back into my former life – I was a triathlete. I needed to find something to occupy my mind and my hands while I was going through some dark times. I’d seen people make wooden spoons on Instagram and I thought, ‘I can do this.’ It’s been great therapy for my hands.”
Other vendors include Jennifer Meadows, who does upcycled artwork; Kelly Williams of Stone Stories Ministries; Crossroads Pottery from the folks at Itawamba Crossroads Ranch; Rachel Brooks Art, which features watercolors; Trippe Howell’s hand-painted cowbells and canvases; Linda Hale’s antiques; and Community Naturals, which makes natural candles and soaps.
“The booths are all arranged in vignettes,” West said, “so that you can see how all our items complement each other in one way or another.”
At the meet-and-greet Friday, West welcomed the makers with a few words, a few tears and a prayer.
“We feel like the Lord has opened up a plan and y’all are all part of the onset of it,” she told the group.
Hale said she has been amazed as she’s watched West’s small company unfold.
“I can’t wait to see this little business survive and thrive,” Hale said.