Danielle McAllister - A&C Feature Artisan

Our interview today is on Danielle McAllister, the master behind Rebellious Clove. Danielle primarily makes up-cycled accessories from leather and silk including earrings, bags and necklaces. She was one of the first makers to be signed on to the collective and has been going strong ever since.

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

I grew up in the Kingston area, in Yarker, its a tiny village between Odessa and Napanee. I left for about 5 years to go to school in Toronto and returned when it became clear I was not cut out to work in fashion. 

Are you completely self taught? Did you go to school for the Arts?

It is a bit of both self taught and traditional schooling. My grandma taught me to sew when I would spend summer breaks with her and my grandpa at their little log cabin in the woods. She is the one who taught me how to "up-cycle" before there was really a word for it. She would take me to every thrift store in town and we would buy sweaters to unravel and knit new things (I can't knit at all). She gave me my first sewing machine, which was a vintage (even then) Singer Featherweight and I used to sew lying on the floor in my room using my elbow to control the foot pedal. Then I went off to take Fashion Design at Seneca College in Toronto, where I learned a lot more about patterns, fabrics, the business and how to take critique of your projects. 

Can you explain the techniques used to make your bags/accessories? Where do you draw your inspiration from?

My inspiration comes half from social media/Pinterest and half from looking at my materials. I scroll through usually Instagram and Pinterest saving things as I go as "ideas" for example, I saw fanny packs were a thing again and saved a picture. I keep a running list of things I would like to try to make and when I find a leather garment I think would work well, I make the thing. The photo just serves as a starting point. 

When was the first time you sold your own art? How did it make you feel?

I think the first time I sold anything was in college. I had started making jewelry and selling it on Etsy, then my classmates saw it and asked me to make the jewelry for their final collections. In total my jewelry was in three different runway shows. It felt a lot awesome but also a bit like "meh, its nothing special, what I am doing, anyone can do it." 

When did you decide or become an artist? How long have you been working as an artist? How did you find your calling?

I am not sure I would call myself an artist, I often refer to myself as a maker more than anything. I like to make things and if people also like them and buy them, then I am happy. I have been saying since I was young (like grade 5 or 6) that I want to be a fashion designer. I think it took a long time for me to realize I don't want to just be a designer, and I am only just finding my true calling now of combining plus size/size inclusivity and Eco-fashion. 

Do you have a favorite piece? Why?

My favorite piece changes all the time. Every time I make something new that has been in my brain for a while and it comes out and looks awesome, it becomes my favorite piece. Right now that would be the fanny packs. 

What projects are you working on right now?

Hmmm...what am I working on right now? Well I have book working to get my personal website up and going so people have somewhere other than to go and interact with me. As well my Youtube channel just hit 10,000 subscribers so I am trying to keep that momentum going. I talk about what it is like to be plus size and sometimes do plus size sewing tutorials. I am gearing up to start beanie production for fall. My up-cycled knit beanies are a top seller in Fall/Winter/Spring and I want to get a head of the rush this year. 

Why did you join Arts & Craft Collective? What's part of it do you find the most exciting?

When I heard about the summer pop up store and all the artists and makers that would be stocked, I just thought, YES! this is so needed and will be appreciated by the tourists who come to Gananoque over the summer. The part I find so exciting is seeing my friends' things on a shelf next to mine. Getting to see them do well and succeed, getting handmade items into the hands of loving shoppers who understand why handmade things are important. 

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