Kim Smasne says many people first think the hats she makes are just for kids, but that they often change their minds after trying one on. “When you put these on, you’re going to feel funky, fun, flirty — and I’m not just saying that to sell you a hat,” she said. In this picture, Smasne is selling her wares at Enumclaw’s Friday Night Market. Photo by Ray Miller-Still

Kim Smasne says many people first think the hats she makes are just for kids, but that they often change their minds after trying one on. “When you put these on, you’re going to feel funky, fun, flirty — and I’m not just saying that to sell you a hat,” she said. In this picture, Smasne is selling her wares at Enumclaw’s Friday Night Market. Photo by Ray Miller-Still

Wacky Wearables keeps clothes out of landfills, one sweater at a time

It all started with a stained sweater and a wood elf.

Correction: An earlier version of this article incorrectly spelled Kim Smasne’s last name. The article has been updated.

Eumclaw local Kim Smasne is nothing if not thrifty.

So when red wine was spilled all over her cream cashmere sweater back in 2019, she didn’t fret — at least for long. Instead, she busted out her old sewing machine and turned the ruined garment into a sweater skirt and matching hat.

Her first attempt wasn’t superb; “The hat was a skull hat and fit horribly [and] the skirt fit horribly and was too tight for my comfort,” she recalled.

But now she was hooked, and with a little inspiration from Franklin, her wood elf figurine, Smasne started to buy up used sweaters to turn into fun, wacky hats for herself.

“I was just making them for me with no intent to sell them,” she said. But that all changed when she brought a bag of them when she visited her mother in Long Beach. “A couple ladies walk by and asked where I bought them. I told them I made them. They asked if I would sell them a couple, which I did. It made my heart warm seeing them walking around with them on.”

And that’s how Wacky Wearables began.

The small business is just a side gig for Smasne, who works full time as a construction superintendent, but it fits into a lifelong love of finding new purposes for old things.

“I used to dumpster dive,” she said in a recent interview. “We made a Christmas tree all out of stuff we found — all the ornaments were [made] out of what we found in the dumpster one year for our job… it was really cool. I can’t stand seeing everything that goes into landfills.”

And after a little bit of research, Smasne was horrified to discover how much clothing makes its way to the dump; according to the movie “The True Cost,” the average American throws away more than 80 pounds of clothes every year. In 2018, more than 17 millions tons of textiles were created, and more than 11.3 million was just landfilled, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

Luckily, many clothes end up at second-hand stores like Goodwill, where Smasne often shops for her sweaters. But she’s constantly surprised by the quality of the items she comes across — even name-brand items with the tags still on them.

“This whole experience has made me see people just really discard things that are really good quality,” she said.

But while Smasne is trying to be environmentally-conscious, she’s also aware that people are in need of good-quality clothes, so she doesn’t snag donations the moment they’re given to Goodwill. Instead, she waits until Goodwill is about to ship unpurchased items to its outlet stores, where they’re sold for cents by the pound, according to Green America.

Smasne estimates she’s got around 200 sweaters hanging around her house, just waiting for the right moment for them to be turned into a hat.

“It’s such a weird science. It’s art,” she said. “I feel like the sweaters are paint and I am painting an abstract picture.”

If you want to check out Wacky Wearables’ wares yourself, you can find displays featured at Arts Alive! on Cole Street, Magickal Earth on Railroad Street, or at the Friday Night Markets currently being held in the old Kelly’s Mercantile building from 4 to 8 p.m.

You can also check out some of Smasne’s designs online on her Facebook page at www.facebook.com/ksmasne/.


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