Lacie Mattox, who moved to Tucson from Los Angeles two years ago, is a single mom of four kids ages 3 to 14. To help pay the bills, a corner of her house is reserved for creating what she describes as "hippie" clothes out of cloth scraps and old clothes she buys by the pound, mostly denim. With help from friends, Mattox started a GoFundMe campaign to purchase sewing machines so she can make clothes faster and build the business. For more info, go to gofundme.com/Lacie.
Where are you from originally?
Los Angeles. All my family is back in California. We moved here on a prayer and a dream two years ago. It's been rough since we've been here and tough not knowing anybody. It's just now starting to feel like home. People I've met here thus far have been wonderful. L.A. is not a place of warmth and affection. I had to leave to find a better spot to raise my children in.
How did the GoFundMe campaign start?
I work at the Triple T truck stop gift shop. Ron Austin's wife came in one day. When it's not busy I sit there and sew. She happened to see me sewing a skirt so I ended up making her a few skirts. She came over and picked them up, and it went from there. If I had a sewing machine I could do them in bulk and wouldn't have to wait on orders coming in to get started on a piece. This town is great. There are so many places and different festivals where I could set up a booth. And the city loves supporting local artists.
How did you get this idea of sewing in this style?
I discovered a place where I can buy clothes for 99 cents per pound. With one pair of jeans I can make two aprons and four tops. Literally nothing goes to waste. It started out as a necessity. (I could either) get the kids clothes or keep the electricity on. As I started wearing them more and more and the kids started wearing them, we couldn't leave the house without people asking me where I got my stuff. It's kind of neat and the kids love it.
The campaign seems to be going well.
We had an anonymous donor, and are halfway there. I am so humbled and grateful. I don't know what to say when it comes to this kind of stuff. It's fantastic.
Why do you think there's been such a positive response?
I think it's because I am a mother of four and things are tough for everybody right now. But I am trying to come up with alternatives to put my family in a better position. Since we're talking about getting multiple sewing machines, the idea is that I could teach other people how to do this—maybe teach the needy and homeless and show them how they can make a brand-new outfit for next to nothing. All it takes is just time, and you can do it all by hand.
You've described this as a green business.
Yes, it's my version of recycling. That's what I tell people. You can make your life a little bit green and a little bit lighter.
How did you figure out how to make these outfits and aprons?
Trial and error. It's been a fun process and I've gotten so much better. My kids love their clothes. Right now I'm working on a skirt for the 3-year-old that matches the material on my skirt. She can't wait. She'll grab it and run around the house saying "Thank you, Mom." My 10-year-old goes to school and the other kids say, "You're a hippie," and she says "Yes, I am." She loves it and all of her teachers love the stuff.
What's in the future?
I've got a passion for this and love to see people in the stuff I make. It's almost a piece of art. I'd like to create a family business. I want to go to the swap meets, the street fairs and sell in consignment. Before I can go out, I need to sew in bulk, but I also need tables and a couple of folding chairs and a pop-up tent. Nothing extravagant. I just need that initial boost.