Supastarr goes green with unique fashion

Pamela Crimbchin

Scribbles Café & Bookstore in Kent may be a fair trade coffee shop during the day, but when the lights are off and the doors are closed, Scribbles becomes the workshop for Supastarr, a hand-made clothing boutique.

“Some weeks are really busy, and we can be up all night printing,” Carla Wilson, owner of Scribbles and Supastarr, said. “We are never not working.”

When Wilson was 17 years old, she started a music venue in a friend’s basement, which hosted a few well-known bands, such as P.O.D.

“We did a show with P.O.D, Living Sacrifice and Zao shortly after the Cornerstone Festival in Bushnell, Illinois in 1998,” Wilson said. “It was pretty amazing. There were only maybe a 100 kids there.”

Wilson wanted to give all the money to the bands, yet she still needed some to pay for the space and flyers, among other things. She decided to start silk screening off-pallet T-shirts and selling them at the concerts.

“When we opened our coffee house, we knew we would need supplemental income, because coffee isn’t exactly a lucrative business for an independent,” Wilson said.

Carla’s husband, who owns Scribbles and Supastarr, is a freelance writer for Arts & Entertainment Weekly in Cincinnati and CIN Weekly. While he was at work, Wilson stayed at home to raise their daughter and started silk-screening again.

“I just started making stuff that I liked – handbags, wallets, little dresses, pillowcases and blankets,” she said.

She and her husband started printing on the cheapest material they could find, selling it for as little as they could. However, after learning more about the products they were purchasing, they began looking into alternatives.

“Learning where and how things are made, and who is making the things we are selling, and how that affects them personally – their community, their culture – was so completely eye opening,” Wilson said.

Fair trade changed the way Wilson and her husband lived. They changed Supastarr’s line to be printed on entirely sweatshop-free apparel made from mostly organic and recycled materials.

“It’s important for us to make a living doing what we care about – earth, art and community,” she said.

Supastarr’s apparel is also all printed off-pallet, making each piece uniquely its own.

“We don’t use any kind of press at all,” Wilson said. “We lay down the shirt. We place something odd between the layers, usually a broken up piece of cardboard, and then we just throw down the screen.”

Most of the inspiration for the line comes from nature and from Wilson’s daughter.

“We both are easily captivated by the beauty that surrounds us,” Wilson said of she and her daughter.

Supastarr is 70 percent online and 30 percent in-store sales, wholesale orders and festivals. Wilson is surprised at just how much support they get from the Kent area alone.

While Wilson is happy with how well the businesses are going, she loves silk screening simply for the art of silk screening.

“I love just sitting down and doodling on scrap paper,” she said. “Sometimes when I’m finished I can stand back and look at something and say, ‘Sweet, let’s print it.'”

Contact all correspondent Pamela Crimbchin at [email protected].