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Teenage Business Owner Makes ‘Wearable Art’


Ellie Heath stands next to some of her designs - made of recycled fabrics and adorned with her distinctive artistic touch (Photo: F. Elmasry / VOA)
Teenage Business Owner Makes ‘Wearable Art’
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Before she could even talk, Ellie Heath spent hours drawing pictures. When she grew older, the 15-year-old discovered the joy of sewing. She says she finds it calming.

She started out making small objects, like jewelry and soft playthings. Over time, she began making clothing.

Her love of the creative work led her to open a business. Three Blue Bunnies is the name of her company, which makes what she calls “wearable art.”

“My definition of wearable art is something that makes you feel unique. It’s one of a kind, often handmade,” she explains. She sells her creations in farmers markets, at sales for local churches, and other places.

Design comes to her

All the pieces Ellie creates are made of used or donated fabrics.

She says there are 21 billion tons of cloth material in waste landfills in the United States. The teenager hopes to reduce that amount through her work.

She works a lot with jean jackets, renewing them with artistic additions. The process starts with finding cloth material that looks good with the jackets.

“Then, I find out the design that works on it through trial and error or maybe just the design comes to me,” she explains.

Ellie credits her mother for pushing her children to develop their artistic skills.

“My mom has always been a huge supporter of the arts,” she says. “She’s always given us this place to express our creativity…”

Ellie’s mom, Amy Heath, is a former school art teacher. She says creativity feeds kids’ brains.

“I think it’s very important for children to have as many opportunities as possible and be inspired by as many objects and people,” Heath says. She praises Ellie’s membership in the local business alliance in Maryland, where they live.

“So she’s getting ideas and experiences through other businesses,” Heath says.

Learning opportunities

Ellie sharpened her creative skills at school. Cheryl Crow was one of her teachers early on.

Crow calls Ellie “a dream student.” She says Ellie worked hard and was always “very creative, but also very kind, helpful to the other students.”

Students learn the basic sewing skills in Crow’s class.

Over the last three years, Ellie has created clothing for theatrical productions at Severna Park High School. Last year, Ellie designed several pieces for actors to wear in the school musical Mamma Mia.

Angela Germanos is the school’s theater director. The department is putting on Cinderella this year. She says there will be a tricky clothing change performed in the play in front of theatergoers.

“This will be a big challenge for Ellie,” she says.

Live your dreams

Ellie has many dreams. She wants to be a teacher and to spread the joy of creativity among children.

She also dreams her business will grow and become a model for other young people who have a dream they want to come true.

I’m Caty Weaver.

VOA’s Faiza Elmasry reported this story for VOA News. Caty Weaver adapted it for Learning English. Kelly Jean Kelly was the editor.

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Words in This Story

sew –v. to make or repair something (such as a piece of clothing) by using a needle and thread​

unique –adj. used to say that something or someone is unlike anything or anyone else​

jean jackets –n. a piece of denim material clothing that is worn on your upper body over another piece of clothing: a usually short and light coat​

trial and error –expression the trying of one thing or another until something succeeds​

opportunity –n. an amount of time or a situation in which something can be done​

inspire –v. to make (someone) want to do something : to give (someone) an idea about what to do or create​

challenge –v. a difficult task or problem: something that is hard to do

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