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Merging Passion & Fashion

Merging Passion & Fashion
July 27
13:18 2019

Sustainable art fashion seems to be the next big thing in the fashion world and single mother Deona Pilgrim is wasting no time in tapping into the local and international market with her brand Feet 2 Soles which includes locally made footwear, jewelry and hair accessories handcrafted from recycled materials.

The Belizean entrepreneur spends her days in her art studio located in Ranchito, Corozal where she sends her son to school and then labors with love, producing a wealth of cultural, leather and fashion footwear using her bare hands.

The Belizean entrepreneur spends her days in her art studio located in Ranchito, Corozal where she sends her son to school and then labors with love, producing a wealth of cultural, leather and fashion footwear using her bare hands.

In her spare time and on weekends, Pilgrim takes her son with her to participate in beach clean ups in Corozal where she would collect washed-up plastic bottles and other materials. The plastic bottles she bags and takes home with her where she converts them into colorful hair products, jewelry and arts. The caps she would place in a bundle then donate to the local Cancer Society which would, in turn, assist cancer patients with treatment.

Pilgrim also makes use of old tires and tubes, which owners of tire shops, knowing what she has in mind, would make available to her.

She also visits used clothing stores to purchase fabrics of her choice, and textile stores for material she needs. What she cannot obtain locally, she imports from Mexico.

Pilgrim told the Reporter that when she first started out her business in September 2017, she was competing with local stores, but after realizing that most of her customers are tourists who have a liking for cultural products, she started producing those and pretty soon she realized that as fast as she could make them they would disappear from the shelves.
Pilgrim explained a simple shoemaking procedure, stating that “first I have to create the soles using a footlas, which is a mold for each foot size depending on what I want. With that, I create the soles from the car tire and then I create the inner soles, which is the part that you use to attach the straps on to the footwear.

I have the machines that I use, I have a cutter, I would draw out the size and design that I want and would cut it with the blade. Some of the tires have metal inside there so I would cut the softest part without going into the metal. To shape the soles I sand it down on my sanding machine then from there I create the insoles from cardboard that is made for footwear. Then I use an orthopedic foam made for footwear that I glue on to that. At other times I would use the tire tubes and cover it with fabric and then seal it on to the inner soles. Sometimes I use a volcanizing process which is a type of glue that requires heating, so it’s a different process than the ones I have to sew. I would then apply my desired design.”

Her sales peak during the tourism high season and locally around cultural holidays or events. She explained that on weekends she would get on the bus with her son and participate in environmental sales, trade shows, art fests, market days and even camps out at tourism venues. She also has gift-shops and resorts across the country that carry her brand. While those are already enough to keep up with, Pilgrim said that she has also tapped into social media sites where most of her income streams are from.

Pilgrim told the newspaper that from a very young age she loved the arts, and fashion as well as shoes. She explained that when she got older she became environmentally conscious. In 2015 she enrolled in a school in Mexico where she learned to manufacture shoes, and in 2017 when she completed her courses she came back to Belize. As an environmentalist she decided to use her skills and merge her passion with fashion.

”We need to teach people about sustainability because global warming is real, the ocean rising is real, the effects of the plastic waste that is washing up on our beaches and affecting marine life is real and sad, so it’s me just trying to educate people about the damage that we are doing to our earth and our environment,” she told the Reporter.

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