Mya Castillo-Marte has launched Creative Repair, a weekly pop-up at Durham Craft Market in North Carolina, which specialises in mending wearables and home furnishings. Customers can bring in items for on-the-spot repairs, or more extensive work can be taken away and returned in a week or two. Castillo-Marte will also carry out house calls for larger projects. Pricing varies by item, with on-site fixes costing between $5 and $15, and take-home repairs ranging between $30 and $50. The pop-up grew out of Castillo-Marte’s disappointment with the mass production of “crap” in the retail sector, she said.
According to a report from Indy Week, the clues are everywhere at the newest tent at the Durham Craft Market. There’s a wicker basket full of cloth, books about leather and fabric stacked and bound with a dark green belt, and a woman with a measuring tape around her neck who is threading a needle through the holes of button-shaped sugar cookies. Still, the people who approach the tent seem to have tunnel vision for the clothing rack. They peruse its small collection of shirts, vests, and jackets before realizing that all of the items are in disrepair.
The woman behind the tent is Mya Castillo-Marte, who soft-launched the Creative Repair pop-up several hours earlier. Technically, Castillo-Marte is 35 years old, but the service she is offering is an ancient one. She specializes in mending wearables and home furnishings. If a customer brings in an item that’s an easy fix, she can do it on the spot at Creative Repair, a weekly gig she launched on May 20 at the Durham Craft Market, which takes place next to the Durham Farmers’ Market downtown.
For more intensive repairs, she’ll take an item home and bring it back to the market in a week or two or drop it off at a designated location. She can also do house calls for larger projects like armchairs or ottomans. Other items are welcome too: Castillo-Marte loves a good challenge, and if she doesn’t know how to fix something, she probably knows someone who does.
Pricing varies by item, but Castillo-Marte says on-site fixes typically range from $5 to $15, and take-home repairs average between $30 and $50. She also offers multiple price options for a given item: if a customer just wants an item to be functional again, they can opt for a lower price; if they want a more comprehensive restoration, they can pay more.
The pop-up grew out of Castillo-Marte’s disillusionment with the retail industry. After graduating from the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York in 2010, she worked several jobs centered around the mass production of private label products, which are manufactured by third-parties for brands like Charlotte Russe and H&M. “I was part of the process of bringing hundreds of thousands of units worth of crap into the United States,” she says. “A lot of bubbles were popping for me in the fashion industry.”
Castillo-Marte’s experience in the fashion industry led her to question the fast fashion model and its impact on the environment. She decided to start Creative Repair to offer a more sustainable alternative to buying new clothes. “The idea is to extend the life of clothing and textiles,” she says. “It’s a way to be more mindful and conscious about what we consume.”
Creative Repair is not just about repairing clothes; it’s also about building community. Castillo-Marte sees herself as a connector, bringing together people who need their clothes repaired with those who have the skills to fix them. She hopes to create a space where people can learn from each other and share their knowledge. “It’s a way to bring people together around a common goal,” she says.
Castillo-Marte’s vision for Creative Repair is to create a movement around repairing and repurposing clothes. She sees it as a way to challenge the dominant fashion industry and its unsustainable practices. “It’s about changing the narrative around fashion and textiles,” she says. “We need to start valuing the materials and the labor that goes into making them.”
To finish on a strong point, Creative Repair is a sustainable alternative to buying new clothes. Mya Castillo-Marte’s vision for the pop-up is to create a movement around repairing and repurposing clothes. She hopes to build a community of people who value sustainable fashion and challenge the dominant fashion industry. With Creative Repair, Castillo-Marte is not just repairing clothes; she’s building a more sustainable future.