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Dara Dudeck is 18 years old and runs a successful business turning thrifted jeans into stylish, high-waisted shorts for girls and women. 

“I was at camp one summer, and there were so many girls wearing cut off Levis. I thought they looked cool, so I went to the thrift store and bought a few pairs,” Dara says.

“They sat in my closet forever until I finally started doing something with them.”

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No pair of Dara’s shorts is quite the same. Aptly named Loved Shorts, each pair is creatively reinvented with bold fabric, studs, lace, and of course, a liberal amount of ripping and distressing. They aren’t your average cut-offs.

“They’re basically old man pants, being used in a new way,” Dara says.

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Reclaiming mostly mens’ Wranglers and Levis, every piece of every pair of these shorts is second-hand. That includes all the decorative elements, so Dara finds herself spending more time in thrift shops than ever before.

“I have to admit, I didn’t really go to thrift stores at all before I started doing this,” Dara says.

“But I’ve started getting into it. Now I like going and trying to find other stuff too.”

Aside from working on Loved Shorts, Dara has two jobs, is the oldest of seven siblings and helps her mom run a natural foods business. She first began selling Loved Shorts at the St. Norbert Farmers’ Market from a small shelf added to the corner of her mom’s table.

“My mom didn’t think it would go over that well, but I was sold out by the end of the day.”

This past summer, Dara was running her own table and selling as many as 30 pairs in an afternoon. That’s a lot of love, and shorts – though some people have less love for her shorts than others.

“I’ve had a few older women come by and tell me that the shorts will fall apart,” Dara says.

“But, I sew each pair by hand, and I’ve never had anyone come back to tell me they’ve had a problem.”

           

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dara finds sewing by hand easier than using a machine, plus it allows her to work on sewing projects more casually.

“I don’t use any tools aside from a needle. That way I can bring a pair along wherever I go and just do it whenever.”

Though Dara has other aspirations aside from being a shorts seamstress, working with old Wranglers and Levis isn’t something she plans on giving up anytime soon.

“I’d like to do it as long as I can, but I probably won’t be able to do it forever,” Dara says.

“Right now it’s a trend, so as long as that keeps up, I’ll be doing it.”

Though fashion trends are constantly changing, there’s always potential to get creative with second-hand clothes and hone practical skills like sewing.

“I didn’t really get into doing this with sustainability in mind,” Dara says.

“But, I think it’s great to take stuff that would most likely just sit
there and put it to use in a totally different way.”


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