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      Upcycling the UP

      Over twenty billion pounds of clothing ends up in our landfills every year.

      One in every ten garments bought are never worn and sometimes simply thrown away, but not everyone is cut from the same cloth. Locally, there are some people making the most out of what they already have.

      "People bring me their tired, their worn, their bridesmaid dresses, their prom dresses. They all know where to get rid of them," laughed Jo Ann Shelby, one of the reDesign Fashion Show's featured designers.

      The redesign movement rejuvenates the old and neglected into something beautiful. Angie Kemp has upcycled since she was a child, cutting up her dad's old shirts and making homemade Halloween costumes out of anything she could get her hands on.

      "I would just try to look for the craziest stuff I could find and make it even crazier," said Kemp, a student at NMU.

      After moving up from the Lower Peninsula last year to study Environmental Issues and Sustainability, she found an outlet for her creativity, the reDesign fashion show. With the help of the cousin she never knew, Angie won last year's Open Contest and now dons the title of Featured Designer.

      Jo Ann Shelby won the same category four years ago, utilizing the sewing abilities she honed as a kid to repurpose vintage garments into recognized works of art.

      "It was something I'd always done. Now they call it upcycling," Shelby noted.

      And that canny ability to salvage scraps that otherwise might be discarded is inherent to the Upper Peninsula, which makes the venue for this year's show at the Marquette History Center even more fitting, highlighting Yoopers' innovative nature.

      "People used something and repurposed it out of, really, the need to do so," said Cris Osier, the Assistant Director at the Marquette History Center.

      And although the show may have outgrown the Garden Bouquet and Design shop, the heart of the movement still resides where the event found its legs.

      "This is a hub of creativity, and I want people to feel that they can be creative and they can express themselves," explained Kim Smith, the owner of Garden Bouquet and Design.

      Angie's story embodies the upcycling philosophy. She took an untapped relationship with her cousin and repurposed it into a friendship that will last a lifetime, all the while, revitalizing 99 cent sweaters and attic dwelling laundry in the same fashion.

      "I didn't know her. I really didn't know her that well. So first, just having her work here, that's one thing. But then to realize what an amazing artist she is and I see that, I see her growing. Who knows where that will go for her?" Smith, Angie's cousin, added.

      Finding the beauty in something that's been there the whole time personifies the upcycling movement, preserving a U.P. practice, generations in the making.