Gemma: Beginnings

Jenna Davis

As far back as I can remember, I've loved fashion.  I would play dress-up as a little girl, wearing my dress-up clothes in all sorts of creative ways, sometimes even taking something so simple as a bath towel and trying to tie it on as a dress.  As I grew up, of course I loved reading fashion magazines and recreating looks, adding my own flair.

I moved to Nashville to pursue songwriting in 2010, I started designing my own clothes & accessories to wear at shows.  When I would wear them, I had a few friends ask me to make pieces for them, and then brought to light the idea of making pieces to sell. Initially, my inspiration came from designs that I liked and wanted to recreate. 

I do a LOT of thrift store shopping(I LOVE bargain hunting!), and one day I bought a cardigan with an unusual design; the front & sides were much longer than the back. I instantly saw potential for a new design, so I took it home, found some scrap fabric I had laying around, and went to work.  A few hours later, (after a little trial and error) I had a new, one-of-a-kind piece that I LOVED.

The next couple of years I focused on music; wrote a lot of songs, put out an EP, butkept crafting & designing on the side.   A friend of mine had an expensive jacket that I really liked, so I, being the cheapskate that I am, decided to try and recreate something similar.  She joined me in the thrift store search for materials to make myself a jacket, and while talking and perusing the aisles, we had the crazy idea to turn our love of thrifting into a business.

About a year went by, and life got busy for both of us, but the idea never left me. I just couldn't shake it. Finally, after having a pretty significant dream about it, I decided it was time! I had no idea what it would look like to start a small business, but I knew it was something I had to do.

I began with thrifted pieces and some scrap fabric, took them apart, designing as I went, cutting and sewing them into a new design.  It was SO fun to see a brand new piece come to life—straight from my brain!

Below, on the right, is one of my first pieces--made from a couple of different thrifted shirts:

Aside from the fact that I love thrift store shopping and being creative with clothes, I also love the idea of taking something old and making it new; AND the fact that it cuts down on waste in that I get to recycle and re-use pieces of clothing that were no longer wanted.

I also love that because of using thrifted and donated clothing, each piece of GEMMA swag is one-of-a-kind; no two pieces will be exactly the same—just like each person on the planet!

Because everyone is so unique, we each have different ways we can impact the world around us. 

That being said, If there is a good idea rolling around in your brain that you just can’t seem to shake—listen to it. Who you are, in your own unique way, can be a gift to the world around you.

Don’t be afraid to take the risk and crawl out onto that limb.

Early on in my GEMMA dreaming, I was very hesitant to take the leap into making it a reality. I was afraid that if I tried and failed, it would be a gigantic waste of time. Then a wise friend said to me, “Do you love making clothes? If you love it, then no matter what happens, it wont’ be a waste of time.”

So, friends, if you love it—give it a try. Don’t be afraid to fail.  Failure isn’t falling down; real failure is falling down and not getting back up to try again.

So, there you have it! This is just the beginning for GEMMA. 

Keep an eye out for new pieces on our Instagram @getgemmaswag, and check the blog for stories of how those pieces came to life. 


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 “Fashion is very important. It is life-enhancing and, like everything that gives pleasure, it is worth doing well.” — Vivienne Westwood