Meet Jessica Garmon! She is the owner of Trashed, a creative recycling studio in Historic Downtown Concord, North Carolina. She’s a mother of two, an entrepreneur, and is basically living the life we often daydream of. Jessica believes EVERYONE is creative and spends her days teaching people how to turn things they would normally throw away into something beautiful. Used light bulbs become floating candles. Last months magazine pages turn into decorative bowls. Outgrown t-shirts are transformed into fashionable jewelry. Jessica has a talent to see things differently and is generously sharing it with the community.
We discovered Jessica’s store in December while strolling down Union Street. Her shop was closed at the time because she was spending Christmas week with her family – one of the perks to owning your own business. We knew we would love this place from its sign alone. By doing a quick Google search we found Jessica’s fabulous website…a peak into our dream world. After exchanging a few emails we arranged a time to meet during our summer trip to North Carolina.
When she opened the door to her 400 square foot studio, Jessica was tan, happy, and surrounded by crafts! The space itself is gorgeous, with high ceilings and large windows that fill the whole room with sunshine. These windows even have beautiful stained glass at the top, which Jessica discovered after removing a layer of paint. It’s almost as though their creativity was waiting to be unleashed too.
Jessica, who previously worked as a design architect, has furnished the entire space completely with reclaimed and donated pieces. She truly has an eye for seeing another life in something others consider waste. There is an old couch she reupholstered, industrial bins donated from a store that went out of business, and a gorgeous fireplace mantle. Our absolute favorite piece is the two-tiered worktable constructed of old wooden pallets. It is large, rugged, and provides the perfect surface to create anything. The more paint or dinks it gets the more beautiful it becomes.
Jessica has been imagining this store for several years. She would sit at her favorite coffee shop on Union Street and look across at the storefront, picturing her craft workshop right there. When the space upstairs became available for rent it seemed like the perfect starting point. Jessica was never nervous about this venture, even though she wasn’t exactly sure what the store would be. She said in 2011, it just came to her soul. She knew it was the year to do take the leap.
WHAT TRASHED HAS TO OFFERIf you enjoy making things and getting together with your friends, Trashed is ready to help unleash your creativity. What started out as a schedule of drop-in classes filled with “Coffee & Crafts” on early afternoons & “Ladies Craft Nights” in the evenings now caters more toward the customer’s individual schedules. Jessica has found that life gets really busy and a good way to make sure you give yourself that time to rejuvenate is to schedule it. She now offers 2-hour time slots for you to host any occasion. From birthday parties to bachelorette activities to just an afternoon with your friends, anyone can sign-up to repurpose & rethink their “trash”.
Being a mom puts Jessica at an advantage to know exactly what you and your kids want. Having their birthday party at Trashed provides your child and their friends with a unique, fun afternoon activity and at the same time eliminates most of the stress for you that comes along with organizing a party. Jessica happily takes care of the food and party favors. She’s also got your back in the summertime by offering summer camps that both educate and entertain your children.
During a party or class Jessica teaches you how to create a recycled craft. Her most requested projects are a Framed Jewelry Display made out of old burlap or chicken wire & a Decorative Book Wreath made by rolling up the pages of an old book. One of the most exciting aspects of attending a class at Trashed is that everything in Jessica’s bins of treasures is at your disposal. It’s like Willy Wonka opening his chocolate factory. Booking a party there is like getting your own golden ticket
Jessica’s favorite part of a session is seeing the end products. “Everyone has access to the same materials, but in the end each person has something unique and beautiful.” Even the people swear they aren’t creative are able to tap into their creative soul and impress themselves.
Since she owns a workspace based upon recycling, you might except to see Jessica picketing big waste producing businesses, but that’s not the case. “I’m not a recycling freak, but I like to do my part,” Jessica told us. And that she does. She has made it possible for herself and the rest of the community to get the most out of what we would typically discard, cleaning up the world a little at a time. Because of this, the community has completely embraced Jessica and her shop on both the front and back ends. Not only are they signing up for her classes, but they also donate by the box load. Trashed accepts everything from old egg cartons and random buttons to expired gift cards and wine corks. If you’re like us and have a hard time throwing away anything that can possibly be turned into something new and fun, having a place like Trashed is like having a sponsor for your hoarding obsession. It gives you a reason to get rid of the things you were holding onto with the good intentions to use them someday. Let’s all make a pact to be honest with ourselves and donate our “stuff” to someone who will actually use it.
JESSICA’S HIGHS & LOWS & ADVICE
You know how much we love our Highs & Lows at Love Jac, so we wanted to find out what Jessica’s were for her business so far. Here’s what she said.
High: “The outreach the shop has had. To see someone who swears they don’t have a creative bone in their body make something beautiful and gain that confidence is what makes me happiest.”
Low: “It’s got to be the little time I have."
We had to ask the owner of this recycling paradise for her advice to the rest of us who don’t have our own studio (yet) and we must admit we were surprised by her answer. We had expected her to have a room at home just like the studio, but that’s not what Jessica said and her advice was a lot more practical.
“You must purge. Donate it. Recycle it. Give it to someone who will make use of it. If you don’t know what you want to do with it don’t save it. If there isn’t a plan for it, it will just sit around your house and take up space. You will basically turn into a hoarder. Collecting things can make you feel weighed down, so get rid of your “stuff” and you will feel more free.”
“Schedule a time to get creative…whether it be getting together with your girlfriends at someone’s house once a month or setting time aside time for yourself every week to make something…you must plan it.”
A woman of our own heart, she loves checking things off a list and knows the importance of giving yourself the time to rejuvenate. She strongly believes you need to feel free and have a clean slate to get your creativity flowing. Jessica’s most productive when her kids have gone to bed and the house is clean. In the little free time she does have, she loves making gifts for people and necessities she might need around the house.
WHAT’S NEXT FOR TRASHED
Currently Jessica’s biggest decision is when to take the business to the next level. She would love to move into a street level location and hire employees so the shop can be open more hours. This will allow people to pop in, make something, and let out that creative energy. Jessica has already created a place where people can think differently. She has made her mark in the community and we can only imagine what Trashed will become. We can’t wait to watch it grow and attend a class ourselves on our next visit North Carolina.
We hope Jessica’s passion has inspired you as much as it has us. If you live in the Concord, NC area you must schedule yourself a re-purposing party . If you don't live there we think it's worth a visit. In the meantime, at the very least, we hope you take a second look before you throw away that water bottle your drinking out of. You never know what it can be turned into.