Sitting amongst towers of fabric Alison Murphy, owner of Utilitu commands a kind of seamstress royal prowess. When asked what “Rethink Waste” means to her, Murphy says craftsmen like her have no choice but to reuse. She proceeds to explain there can be a discrepancy in value of discarded goods and collecting those goods can be cost effective for a small business owner. Utilizing and sometimes by her own admission hoarding fabric is perhaps the most visual clue in her garage studio that she chooses to “Re-think Waste”.
With early inspiration from family to upcycle, Murphy says she has been re-thinking waste before there was a phrase for it. Her mother would sew her elaborate costumes for school productions of Shakespeare from thrift store eighties dresses. At the age of eight she began finding worn garments and transforming them into backpacks and embroidered bags which she would sell to class mates. As a mother, Alison has already been passing on her Do-it-Yourself and upcycling philosophy to her children designing a beautiful tool belt for her six year old son Sailor.
Choosing to work in an industry that is all about repair gives Alison a sense of community membership that she is excited to share at the upcoming Repair Cafe, April 3rd, at Pakit Liquidators. Fixing a zipper or applying a patch she explains “It’s not just a pair of pants, the interaction will shepherd all these other positive actions”. These community connections and repercussions for her work fuel a deep passion to deliver a quality product.
During the first Repair Cafe last November, Alison says making participants happy made helping out totally worth it. She looks forward to seeing everyone’s projects not knowing what each person will need for their repair, saying, “Being challenged keeps me quick on my feet and a better seamstress”. Please join the Environmental Center and the Rethink Waste Project for the Repair Cafe and you will have a chance to consult Alison Murphy on your sewing needs.
Photo and Interview by Krystal Collins