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OUR STAFF

Executive Director, Elizabeth Freeman Kelly

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Lizz is a New Orleans resident and artist whose combination of experience and interests made her a natural choice for the Executive Director position following the retirement of ricRACK’s founder in 2022. She has 15 years of retail management experience in secondhand consignment clothing stores in 8 different states, as well as 10 years of financial management experience at the New Orleans Musicians Clinic and Assistance Foundation.
Freeman is also a textile artist whose work includes quilting, applique,
natural dye, cyanotype, and embroidery using only salvaged and secondhand fabric, modes of construction that echo the sustainability ethos underlying ricRACK’s mission.

Operations Director / Instructor, Samar Malek

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Samar is a professional seamstress and designer from Tennessee. Originally taught to sew by her grandmother, she honed her design skills at the Material Institute in New Orleans.  Samar has a background in sustainable production sewing, film/tv costuming, vintage clothes slinging, and client styling. At ricRACK she helps keep operations running smoothly and leads various adult sewing classes in the studio. She designs under her familial nickname, SIM SIM, arabic for ‘sesame seed’. Samar draws inspiration from her family, history, fairy tales, and the nature and city surrounding her. She sews, dyes, and knits garments from deadstock fabrics passed down from her grandmother to bring fantasy to life.

Studio Manager / Instructor, Mary Woodall

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Mary Woodall has more than 40 years of experience in the art of sewing. As an experienced seamstress, designer’s assistant, studio manager, and teacher, she has worked on projects that have been featured in trade magazines, pattern books and on HGTV. Mary is a seasoned sewing instructor, working to ensure enjoyable classes provide employable skills to students. She is interested in facilitating environmental and creative awareness, built around a community space sewn together around the common ground of a needle and thread. Mary excels at coming up with innovative ideas in all of the classes she leads and is the studio organizational specialist.

Creative Reuse Shop, Moonlite Phillips

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Creative Reuse Shop, Shel Roumillat

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Creative Reuse Shop, Anjle Latiha C

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Anjle is a creative polymath who draws on over 20 years of experience in fiber art, costuming, performance art, theater, music, writing, drawing, and painting to create art that combines story, image, and form. Anjle enjoys the challenge of applying skills across disciplines to develop their own unique approach to their craft. combines story, image, and form. Anjle enjoys the challenge of applying skills across disciplines to develop their own unique approach to their craft.

Alterations, Amira

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Amira is a visionary seamstress with 15 years of experience and a passion for creating sartorial magic. Her journey into the realm of bespoke fashion began in childhood. Her Mom took her to the fabric store instead of the toy store so she could make custom creations to show on the living room runway. One of her most cherished milestones was the privilege of working on costumes for Beyoncé's Renaissance tour, where her craftsmanship helped bring Queen Bey's artistic vision to life. Amira's heart truly belongs to bridal wear. Her specialty lies in crafting and altering bridal gowns that are nothing short of spectacular. Each creation reflects her commitment to tailoring perfection and her belief that every bride deserves to shine on their their special day. With a keen eye for detail, an unwavering dedication to her craft, and a heart full of passion, Amira has become sought-after in the world of sewing and fashion. Amira is the creative force behind @ElizabethTailorNewOrleans.

Instructor, Jahireen Hebert

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Jahireen is a self taught multimedia artist and performer with a passion for sewing/ fabric manipulation. Born and raised in New Orleans, they have a unique relationship with fashion and self expression which is translated in the garments they produce. They’ve been stitching away for 6 years now and won’t stop until all of the skill’s they have acquired are passed on to the next generation which they have the pleasure of doing through ricRACK- a local textile repurposing nonprofit that teaches sustainability aligned sewing classes and programs in schools. They have an affinity for making fashions for all shapes and expressions as a nonbinary artist, Jahireen feels connected with the molding process of making clothes fit people and not making people fit clothes.

 

Instructor, Carolina Gallop

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Carolina was born in La Ceiba, Honduras and was raised in Boston, MA. She moved to New Orleans from Los Angeles in 1999 where she trained as a Fashion Designer. Carolina enjoys hosting Fashion Show events and had done so since arriving in New Orleans.
Carolina has been teaching adult and children sewing since 2010 and enjoys the “Art of Sewing”. She enjoys the look on her student’s faces when they finally “get it”.
Carolina enjoys working with the Community and likes to meet new people. She is trained in Medical Administration and is also a trained Paramedic. Carolina enjoys teaching and sewing new projects and is currently creating and making hats for an upcoming show in Massachusetts. She leads several adult beginner to intermediate classes.

Instructor, Chloe Bernert

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Chloe is a professional performer, seamstress, costumer, and textile artist. Though predominantly a costumer, they grew up watching their grandmother sew quilts out of old sheets, tablecloths, and scraps of fabric bought at thrift stores. As a sewist, Chloe is all about high glamour and low impact. They want garments to make a person feel like a million bucks while made out of carefully hoarded and preserved materials. They work as ricRACK’s Saturday Morning Kids Club co-leader and they have an exceptional rapport with the 8 – 11-year-olds that come to ricRACK each week to learn or build upon their skills. Chloe also leads the biweekly Wear & Repair session, which encourages the community to fix what they have in order to keep it out of the landfill.

Volunteer Coordinator / Instructor, Blythe Craft

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Blythe is a nurse practitioner by trade but has been sewing and doing needle work for as long as she can remember. She started doing embroidery-based textile art several years ago during an open call for a collaboration in Texas. Sustainability interests her because it encompasses so much more than just reuse- it weaves together economics, social justice and so much more to stimulate positive change. Blythe teaches one of our monthly Adult Total Beginner classes and is our Volunteer Coordinator.

Instructor, Lorenza De la Puente

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Lorenza De la Puente is a New Orleans native who graduated from the Fashion Institute of Technology in 2019 with a Bachelors in Fashion Design. She has spent the last two years working on her Masters in fashion design at Politecnico di Milano. Lorenza loves to crochet, knit, and sew and she is passionate about teaching and working with children.

Instructor, ​Thayer Abaigael

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Thayer Abaigael has worked as  a set costumer for film & television productions. Her most notable work can be seen in The Hammer, The Nikki & Nora Files, and most recently, Mayfair Witches. She's a long-time ricRACKateer, and has been a fan of repurposing textiles since recreating her first costumes at 6 years old, from thrift store finds while on shopping trips with her mom. She is an avid collector of vintage clothing, fabric, notions and trims, and often looks to the past for design inspirations to reinvent into new creations. Her love of patchwork quilting led her to support the heroic Trap-Neuter-Return efforts of Trap Dat Cat, using her sewing skill to fill a need for fitted trap covers.

Communications & Donor Relations, Michael Lamendola

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For two decades, Michael has worked in various capacities as a Communications Specialist with artists, musicians, nonprofits and small businesses to ensure their online presence is effective, engaging and relevant by offering affordable a-la-carte content creation, development and project management services. She has also produced successful events in New Orleans, San Francisco and New York City. She joined ricRACK in 2022 and is very excited to help make an impact in the sustainable fashion industry, textile recycling and waste reduction.

OUR BOARD

Board Member, Darren Isabelle

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Darren Isabelle is a native New Orleanian. He grew up in a family of sewers and is a life long costumer.  You can find him most festive holidays in the French Quarter costumed from head to toe enjoying New Orleans. He has been the business manager for Urban Earth Design Studios, an Event and Floral Decor Company for over 20 years.  He has been involved with ricRACK since 2012, with the Hollywood Thrift Sales and joined the Board of Directors in December 2019.

 

Board Member, Pamela Wood

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Pamela Wood has worked in the fashion industry in one capacity or another from designer and stylist to costumer in film and t.v. since 2000. Her work can be seen in such productions as Leverage and Queen Sugar. Originally from New York, she began her time in New Orleans working in her other career...fundraising; which she has done as a consultant for 26 years. You can often see her face in ricRack's social media campaigns as the Skinnybillionairess, beckoning and scolding viewers to our retail location to shop and sew.

Board Member, Rosane Archery-McGowan

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Rosane Archery-McGowan is a consultant whose career spans chemical engineering, finance, entrepreneurship and angel investing.  She is passionate about climate action, conservation, and impacting our community through volunteering and mentorship. For fun, Rosane enjoys running and walking in nature, sketching, enjoying family and friends, researching new topics,occasionally sewing, and trying her darndest to sing. She has volunteered with ricRACK since 2020 and joined the board in 2021.

Board Member, Beth Burvant

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Beth has had a love for crafting! Raised in Minnesota she learned the lessons of humility and hard work, as well as how to crochet, knit, can, and drive a stick shift in the snow.  She has a degree from University of Wi-Madison in Radio, Television, Film Production, and a certificate of Business Management from the Harvard Extension school, with a focus on non-profits.  One of her favorite pastimes is playing Barbie Project Runway with her daughters; and yes, it is exactly what it sounds like.

Board Member, Wendy Celeste

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Wendy has always had an affinity for arts and crafts. At an early age, she taught herself how to sew starting with a renaissance costume and has been making costumes, jewelry, and accessories ever since. She received her degree in Visual Communications from the Art Institute of Fort Laudable and has worked as a web designer, illustrator, and graphic artist. She now works in movie post-production as an offline editor and junior colorist at Kyotocolor.

Board Member, Natasha Wilson

Board Member, Elizabeth Townsend Gard

OUR FOUNDER

Founder, Alison Parker

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Alison Parker started her professional career developing and maintaining costumes for the Cirque du Soleil. In recent years she shifted her focus to wardrobe for TV shows like Girls, NCIS New Orleans, and Stephen Soderbergh’s Mosaic, or feature films like Looper, I Am Legend, or The Highwaymen, costuming Kevin Costner and Woody Harrelson.

After spending 20 years surrounded by the waste of fabrics and clothing, and finding a lack of sewing resources, Alison Parker knew ricRACK was an organization that needed to exist. Born in Bradford, England, Alison immigrated to the States in 1980, and went on to graduate from the University of Florida with a degree in theatre production, specializing in Costume Design. In November 2019, Alison accomplished her greatest feat by combining her passions, historical costuming, social justice,  and repurposing clothing.  She created prototypes and patterns, organized sewing circles, and in effect, costumed close to 300+ re-enactors for Dread Scott’s 1811 Slave Rebellion Re-enactment. Her techniques are the most prolific and sustainable used by any costume designer today. When Alison and her husband are not working, they live on their sailboat in Southshore Harbor with Beatrice the Boat Cat and Thibodeaux the dog. 

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