Jessica Ullom is a collector. She scours flea markets, estate sales and auctions for vintage patches, feed sacks, army tents and beautiful old blankets. It takes a lot of looking and searching.
Ullom, who has a degree in art photography, photographed abandoned farmhouses for a thesis project in school, and gathered some of the abandoned items she found there.
She didn’t think much of what she jokingly refers to as her “borderline hoarding,” until one day when she decided to turn an old feed sack into a pillow. Her friends liked the pillow so she made more and took them to her first craft market in 2012, along with some of her photographs. “The pillows sold out within five minutes of opening, so I knew,” says Ullom.
Ullom grew up attending antique sales and flea markets with her father, who loved hot rods, and she was taught to sew in high school by her grandmother.
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“A love for the past is ingrained in me,” she says.
Now, the Raleigh maker works for herself under the label Hawks & Doves, producing bags and utilitarian home goods and accessories, as well as kitchenwares. Her focus is on creating one-of-a-kind American-made products that are “functional, durable and accessible.” Her line is based on what people need – for instance, a canvas knife roll created for her chef husband, or a set of aprons for a local restaurant.
Many of the materials Ullom uses are from her findings. She has a keen eye for beautiful old textiles such as Pendleton wools and hand-lettered Army canvas. These textiles are what inspire her designs.
Ullom prides herself on repurposing “found materials in conjunction with both new and dead stock American-made textiles.” Lately, she has been combining these with locally sourced leather and has created a new line of leather bags, clutches and wallets.
“Sometimes it’s really hard knowing it was somebody else’s,” she says. “It’s hard to cut it up, especially when they have the hand lettering on it. But I also feel like I found them at the flea market, someone had thrown them away probably. So I really like the idea of turning what is potentially somebody’s trash into something now that people want to wear every day. The materials have already lasted for a really long time, so hopefully what I’m doing to them just extends their life.”
Hawks & Doves
Hawks & Doves items range from about $20-$180. She is carried in a variety of local stores including DECO, NOFO, Edge of Urge and The Fort@3512 in Raleigh; Gather in Cary; Duke Homestead in Durham; and Mimosa Home & Gift Boutique in Wake Forest.
Visit the online shop at hawksanddovesnc.com.