Local textile artist Rebecca Levine spent four years in design school after college and even interned with Nicole Miller in New York City. When she was exposed to textile design, she found her passion and decided she wanted to do it herself. She now has her own line, R. Levine, based right here in Cleveland.
The Carroll News: What products does R. Levine offer?
Rebecca Levine: What I always say is, what we offer is something new. I design fabrics. I focus on original prints for clothing and accessories. I focus on great design. There are so many different designers out there, but I try to keep it very unique to me. I started with silk scarves, but when I met people who weren’t scarf-wearers, I began to adapt and make other accessories. A lot of people wear neutrals, so I like to make accessories with a lot of color to brighten it up.
CN: What sparked you to begin this business?
RL: I’ve always loved doing projects. When I was little, I would always make gifts for everyone. My grandmother helped me with projects when I was little, and she loved colors, glitter, beads, everything, and now I do. I had always wanted to do this but wasn’t sure. When I graduated from Miami of Ohio, I went to the Illinois Institute of Art to learn silk painting. I initially started making gifts for people close to me, and people loved them and showed more of an interest, and it just snowballed. From there I started talking to more and more people and then beginning to appear at shows.
CN: You offer a special item that you created yourself, the Wrapband. What is it exactly?
RL: I’m most excited about the Wrapband. It’s my newest accessory. People say, “I haven’t seen this before it’s something new.” So I love the fact that I was able to be so creative. I do a lot of customizing for them too. I make a ton of designs from what I think my customers will like. The Wrapband is a designed strip of Rayon fabric. In the center of the Wrapband there is a silk-covered button. A lot of people mistake it for a watch. Some of my most fun ones are embellished with crystals. I have had a lot of people request personal ones with monograms and even some for weddings with the couple’s last name on it.
CN: Do you currently have a store?
RL: As of right now, most of my product is sold online. I have been expanding lately by going to different shows around the country. I started off doing larger shows, one in Los Angeles and the One-of-a-Kind show in Chicago. Lately, I’ve been wanting to keep it more local. I love Cleveland, and I love to meet people directly. Trunk shows and parties have been really popular lately at country and athletic clubs. Home parties and even parties at salons and spas have been fun for me to do. I really love to reach out to people in person.
CN: You seem to have a lot of products; how exactly do you go about a trunk show?
RL: A lot of shows I do are in the holiday season, because people are looking for gifts; but there has been an explosion of home shows along with the jewelry and cooking lines, so I thought why not get into it as well. I can usually just bring my whole mobile booth to a person’s home or whichever venue they select. It’s nice to have people see my brand in person because the design is so intricate. Plus, the artistry just can’t be captured online. I like to have the opportunity to see people get excited about my work and see its beauty.
CN: Many of your pieces are handmade; do you do a lot of special orders for your customers?
RL: I hope to always be able to offer uniqueness. I do everything on my own, from the brainstorming to the actual creation. The turn around time is pretty quick now; I’d say it’s done within a week’s time. I’m also able to do special orders for themes such as weddings. I recently did a whole wedding party because the bride’s [dress] colors resembled that of a peacock, so I got to have some fun with that and design accessories for the whole wedding party.
CN: On your website, you offer a men’s section. What sparked you to begin a men’s line?
RL: There aren’t many options for guys out there. And in the beginning, my brother brought this to my attention, and I just kind of ran with it. I currently offer shirts and ties. I wanted to focus on masculine things because not every male is looking for something overly decorative; you know, stylish, but still masculine. A lot of people have been asking for men’s accessories lately. I think it’s men not wanting to be left out. I have been getting more orders than I originally anticipated. People have been going back to old school, with a new twist, ties and pocket squares. With these accessories, men can add a little flare to their outfit.
CN: What trends do you anticipate for summer and how has your product changed for the warmer months?
RL: It’s quite obvious that neons and pastels are in this summer. I already use color quite a bit, but people wearing neutrals can brighten up their ensemble with a pop of color. Also, matching bold colors are in as well, so there are just a ton of options for the summer season. Summer is my high time because I love color, and it’s more fair game. With accessories, I’m seeing a lot of big, bold items: earrings, necklaces, etc. Accessories overall are an easy way to take what you have but really change the outfit. Another trend that I’m seeing is monograms. I am getting a ton of custom orders lately. Scarves are always in. As opposed to a winter scarf, silk scarves are multi-seasonal; they’re lightweight but also a little thicker fabric. I like to mix my line with luxury (the bright colors) and silk (still very comfortable.) All my accessories are versatile and can easily be worn from day to night.