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Zimmerman's Just Rebeccaz Combines Art and Fashion

By Regina Mahone on January 31, 2006

Just Rebaccaz; photo by Stephanie LehnertIt's about time someone combined the concept of found art and fashion. Rebecca Zimmerman — young, sophisticated, and eco-friendly - started designing sweaters in New York City just six years ago. Last May, she launched the very first line of her own, and the originality quickly made impressions on both coasts of the country.

Zimmerman, 29, fits a lot into her one-woman show: Shopping (for inspiration), designing, sewing, and making sure to take time to enjoy the bright lights of New York City.

"My brain moves a mile a minute, so I have a new idea every day. I'll go to a vintage store and get inspired," Zimmerman says. "I'll like the fabric on a pair of pants, and I'll make it into a bag. I like to find a way to use recycled products that otherwise wouldn't be used."

Zimmerman began her career as a fashion designer on her 10th birthday, when she designed a large, fruit-print, button-down shirt that tied in the front.

"My Nana taught me to sew as my 10th birthday present," Zimmerman says. "She took me to the fabric store to pick out a pattern and fabric. [While sewing], I kept trying to take shortcuts. [I kept] not pressing my seams after I stitched them, [but] she wouldn't let me get away with that — she made me do everything the correct way."Just Rebaccaz; photo by Stephanie Lehnert

Zimmerman admits to being a rebellious sewer ever since that first session.

"That lesson has stuck with me since. Now that I know the rules, I do sometimes break them," Zimmerman says. "I will use raw edges [to create a] deconstructed look, but the structural integrity is still there."

The process of turning her dreams into reality was a bumpy one for Zimmerman, who is a graduate of the Shannon Rodgers and Jerry Silverman School of Fashion Design and Merchandising at Kent State University.

"I kind of got pushed into doing my own thing," she says. "I got fired from my last job (she was designing junior sweaters at Intertex). I was miserable there, and I never thought that I could be self-employed and make a living. But, it was the best thing that could have ever happened to me."

Coming from a family of creative thinkers, it's not so surprising that Zimmerman has found success on her very own. Her sister, Stephanie Lehnert, is a photographer, while her other sister, Pamela, is an interactive sculptor, 3D computer designer, and metalsmith.