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Meet Nikolas Sanchez-Wong and Arianna Knowles of RustyReconstructed in Pasadena

Today we’d like to introduce you to Nikolas Sanchez-Wong and Arianna Knowles.

Nikolas and Arianna, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
It all started when Arianna started hand painting custom shoes (Toms) for relatives and co-workers in high school. As we started college, she was attending fashion school and during that time we were going to a lot of concerts and music festivals. She would recreate t-shirts for me, such as adding pockets or reconstructing the sleeves. As we attended our first Coachella experience, we noticed the fashion at a music festival was so unique. After attending Coachella two years in a row, Arianna created outfits for both of us from head to toe for all three days.

Next year will be our 10th year attending Coachella so every year, we come up with new concepts for all three days and at LEAST one of the three days we match every year. While Arianna was making outfits for us just for fun, we started collecting vintage to resell and after collecting for three years, we tried selling it but it didn’t sell as well as we thought it would. With so many clothes being hoarded in our bedroom, we decided to start reconstructing some pieces for ourselves and we got a really positive response from it when we wore it out. People would come up to us at festivals and asked where we got these pieces and we would tell them “we made them” so that gave us the inspiration and motivation to start reconstructing the clothing we had in our room.

After making quite a few pieces, we took some to sell at the local Flea Market and sold a lot of items and people were really liking the stuff we created so that gave us even more motivation to make more unique, one of a kind garments and start selling more at the other local flea markets. Now we sell at Silverlake Flea, Melrose Trading Post, and Rose Bowl. Eventually, we would like to open our own online shop and create more unique and one of a kind pieced for people to wear.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
It definitely has not been a smooth road for us, we had a lot of clothes we spent money on and didn’t know how to make it back. We were afraid people weren’t going to like the pieces we made or we would be stuck with them. It’s a hit or miss when we sell at flea markets, sometimes it busy or sometimes it’s slow, but that does not discourage us because we enjoy attending to get our name out there and for people to be able to see our work and if we sell it even better.

As of right now, one of our biggest struggles would be trying to open an online shop. Not only financially but being able to keep up with the demand for custom clothing. It’s hard to communicate through the web with people, for example, if they are trying to “order” a hand-painted jacket, its hard for them to send us the jacket or for them to trust us and get it done as well as payment.

RustyReconstructed – what should we know? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
Our company RustyReconstructed is a sustainable upcycled clothing brand. We are not just another t-shirt company trying to sell to consumers. We thrift vintage clothing and find a way to reconstruct it and give it a new home or recreate it. Me, Nik I can’t paint for the life of me (crying face) so I mainly help out with the buying of the vintage clothing since having been a fashion buyer before, I love keeping up with current trends and as a stylist, I love coming up with new ideas as to what can be a new trend. I also am the one who does all of the hardware to our one of a kind pieces.

Arianna, is the true artist, she hand-paints, sews and of course, comes up with new ideas as well. Her fashion sense is unreal and comes up with the most exclusive designs ever. Together, we collaborate and before a garment is actually constructed we consult together and feed each other ideas on how to make it 100% what we want to showcase. I think what sets us apart from others is that we are a team of two and having have had a relationship of over 13 years we work really well together and continue to give each other ideas and motivation. We know there are a lot of brands that “reconstruct” now but the cool thing about us we have items that are reconstructed, hand-painted design and one of a kind clothing, such as the hardware.

What moment in your career do you look back most fondly on?
Having have sold at quite a few flea markets now, every single time we attend one we get anxious and think we’re never going to sell anything. This has never been an issue, it’s been nothing but positive feedback at all flea markets, whether people actually buy stuff from us or not people still stop at our booth and ask us about our brand. Having attended so many festivals/concerts every time we go one of us is always wearing a custom hand-painted jacket of any of the artists that are playing and people recognize the artwork and appreciate it. When we first started this, we always said we wanted to sell at flea markets but never had the time for it and now that we do it that has been a great accomplishment for us. Being able to actually start our brand and work on it more has also been an accomplishment for us because before we would just say “let’s make this, let’s make that”: and now that we actually make it, it feels amazing.

Arianna hand-painted a couple of jackets such as Travis Scott, YG, A$ap Rocky, Childish Gambino, and Billie Eilish. Those have been with us since day one and we never thought we’d be able to sell them because we thought we were selling them for too expensive and people wouldn’t want to pay that price, but we actually were able to sell most of them!

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