Photos By Kayleigh Omang
Ashley Dedin Carlson uses her sewing talents to repurpose cherished clothing items into memory items to wear and love. Through her brand, Remade to Remember, she upcycles textiles and she creates sentimental keepsakes for generations to come.
Tell us a bit about yourself and what you create.
I’m Ashley. I create handcrafted memory items from cherished clothing for people who are looking for a unique way to memorialize their loved ones.
How did you get into this type of creating?
Remade to Remember evolved out of my first business, AENDEE which was a ready-to-wear accessories brand that started with a brick and mortar store on 8th Street in Fargo. I started AENDEE right out of college and created all different kinds of items out of shirts I’d buy at thrift stores. Eventually, I realized that the projects were much more meaningful when there is a story involved.
What is one of your favorite pieces you’ve created? Why?
This is a really hard question! I’ve been very lucky to be trusted with some amazing projects – I’ve deconstructed wedding dresses, military uniforms and the last pieces of clothing that a family held on to after a loved one passed away. Every project makes me feel very connected with the people I work with, I love hearing the stories of their loved ones and how they will use their new items to celebrate the life of their family or friend.
What is your most popular type of product you’ve made?
Infinity scarves and zipper pouches are very popular, I think because they are unique and also functional. I’m certainly not the first or only person to make memory pillows but the other items that I offer are either wearable or usable and I think that makes them even more meaningful.
What is a word that best describes you?
Passionate. I get very dedicated to my work no matter what it is and can’t help but give 100%.
How do you stay inspired to create?
My clients are really my source of inspiration, they usually come to me with a story that gets me so excited that I can’t wait to work on their project. Sometimes the stories are sweet (a set of zipper pouches for siblings made from their mother’s wedding dress) and sometimes they’re sad (an infinity scarf made from a widow’s husband’s shirts who passed away just weeks after their wedding) but being able to take a raw material and turn it into something beautiful keeps me inspired and gives my work real purpose.
What has been the most challenging and most rewarding things about doing your business?
I went from being a full-time entrepreneur (I ran my brick and mortar for about four years) to beginning the next chapter of my life—closing my shop, getting married, becoming a mom and starting a new career. The biggest challenge with keeping my business alive has been finding balance. I thought that it was something I could “put on hold” until I had “more time” but I eventually realized that it needs to be a part of my life no matter what. Even though my business isn’t my full-time gig like it used to be, it is still equally as meaningful. The most rewarding part of running Remade to Remember is absolutely hearing from my clients how much their new items mean to them. I’ve had so many teary-eyed moments with clients where my heart was so full…that’s by far the most rewarding part of it.
What advice would you give to someone interested in starting a handmade business?
The advice I’d give today is different from the advice I gave seven years ago when I opened AENDEE. Back then I’d say, “Go for it! If it is something you’ll always regret not doing…you at least have to give it a try!” and although I still think that’s solid advice, I’d add that your craft does not have to be your career. It can be something you do for fun, for love, on the side or in secret, and the fruits of your labor are equally as valuable as someone who is running their handmade business full-time.
Where can people find your work?
How can our community help your business grow?
Since I am just making a return to my craft after a long pause and I underwent a huge rebrand from when I had my storefront, I think this type of feature (an article or a story) is incredibly helpful to spread the word that I’m still here in this community and my services are still available.
What’s next for you?
Balance! I’m changing up my role in my career and working less hours, giving myself more time to pour into Remade to Remember and my own personal hobbies, art and craft. I’m also trying to actively nourish the parts of my creativity that aren’t so goal-oriented and spend more time making just for fun and for play. I think we’re in such a “boss”/”entrepreneur” culture that we forget that it’s good to just do things “for no reason”…things that we don’t share on Instagram or build a business around. I plan to take more time to cultivate those kinds of creations to help balance out my business endeavors.