By Tiffany Merlo Phelps
When Ponte Vedra High School senior Scout Snell looks at a piece of second hand clothing, she sees a story and a lot of potential.
“You never know where these clothes are from and the life that they had before you,” said Snell, who will attend New College of Florida in the fall. “You are continuing the life of these clothes, extending it to be something more.”
Snell recently took her passion for thrifting and fashion and created Cut from the Cloth by Scout, a company dedicated to sustainable and handmade fashion. She sews her own clothing and upcycles her thrifted clothes, having produced three collections (drops) sold online so far. She described upcycling as the process of taking something old and turning it into something new and more useful.
“I have become very passionate about sustainability and the environmental impact of clothes and the impact of not buying from fashion retailers,” said Snell.
Snell notes on her company website that, “According to the Environmental Protection Agency, 5 percent of landfill space is occupied by textiles. Only 27 percent of people donate their clothing and only 7 percent of people purchase used clothing. Let’s change that.”
After receiving a sewing machine from her aunt as an early graduation gift, Snell taught herself to use it by watching YouTube videos.
“I like how seamless it is as compared to just a needle and thread by itself. It is more streamlined and faster. It is different, and I gravitated to it,” said Snell, who gathers inspiration from sustainable fashion YouTubers.
Snell also likes Japanese consultant Marie Kondo’s concept of finding items that spark joy.
“I like to take clothes that you used to love and create something new, so that the clothes will last longer and continue to bring joy and love,” said Snell.
Her top three consignment shopping spots are the Salvation Army off Beach Boulevard, BEAM Thrift in Jacksonville Beach and any Goodwill Store. Snell takes a methodical approach to shopping by going section by section, something she recommends to any first-time consignment shoppers.
“Otherwise, it can be very overwhelming,” said Snell. “You really have to look when you are in thrift stores. You have to imagine yourself in the clothes and look for the potential since there are usually no mannequins there displaying different outfits.”
Snell described her style as a mix of everything, sometimes soft pants and t-shirts for comfort (for example during the stay-at-home orders) and sometimes jeans and t-shirts for a classic casual look. She also loves girly casual pieces and graphic t-shirts, the latter being very easy to find in thrift stores.
Snell’s favorite handmade items are her two-piece sets and her New College tie-dye pullover sweatshirts. She said she will often look at an outfit and create it visually or look for a pattern or a guide, taking measurements and working with different textures accordingly.
“It is fun to create my own college pieces and to make it any way that I want to,” she said.
Snell, who currently works at a local ice cream shop, plans to bring her sewing machine with her to college and continue pursuing environmental sustainability through fashion. She will also take some of her classes at the Ringling College of Art and Design.
Snell’s mother, Tricia Booker, is proud of her daughter for both her fashion sense and her desire to make the world a better place.
“I’m most comfortable wearing whatever is most comfortable, so her ability to turn almost anything into a style has always astonished me,” said Booker. “But her interest in sustainability and upcycling clothes just makes my heart soar. I love that she feels passionate about something that can literally help change the world.”
During the pandemic, Snell started making face masks available for sale even when elastic was incredibly hard to find. She sewed the mask with four longer strips to be tied on the back of the head. She jokingly used a cow pattern, calling them “moosks,” and the name stuck. Snell admits to loving a good pun.
To learn more about Cut from the Cloth by Scout, to place an order or to purchase a gift card, visit www.cutfromtheclothbyscout.com. Also, Cut from the Cloth by Scout is interested in any old clothing donations that may be otherwise thrown away.
“Anything you send us will be used in some shape or form when upcycling our clothing. Anything is appreciated. We will handle the shipping. All you have to do is drop it at your local USPS,” said Snell.
Anyone interested in donating should contact Snell at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photos courtesy Scout Snell