By NANCY WU
Well Worn Strings, co-founded by Jissa Vennat (Sr.) and Grace Xu (Sr.), is a fashion brand aimed at using art and business to exercise and promote social responsibility. Co-founders Vennat and Xu are also the president and vice-president of UNI Style Coalition, respectively.
Two years ago, while serving as a Community Relations Officer for UNI Style Co., Vennat created a club project to make jewelry for St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital. A few successful fundraisers later, she decided to bring her small-scale sales to the online market with Xu. Together, Vennat and Xu started to sell their creations through Etsy.com, beginning the summer of 2014. Sparsh Sah (Sr.) says, “Grace and Jissa each have an unparalleled sense of fashion, and the thought that they pour into every article is rivaled only by the physical toil of crafting it.”
Xu had dreamt for years of starting an online store. She said, “This store was, in a way, my declaration that I can use whatever I’m passionate about to make a difference in peoples’ lives. I firmly believe that everyone has a talent that can be used to serve, and no one has to wait until college or some other arbitrary time in the future to make vision reality.” Xu has been drawn to sewing and crafting since she was a child. In her opinion, people were impressed with her work, but constantly dismissed it as a “cute hobby.” Her persistence and passion are what has led her to successfully co-found her very own brand with her partner.
Well Worn Strings sells clothing items such as kimonos and t-shirts, sewn by Xu, as well as jewelry and accessories such as necklaces and bracelets, made by Vennat. The profits from their summer collection add up to almost $1000, all of which will be donated to Rewrite Beautiful, a non-profit organization that works towards eating disorder prevention through education. The organization emphasizes using art as a means of education and positive social impact. According to Vennat, “In this way, we’ve been able to transform fashion, something that often gets dismissed as trivial, into a real means of philanthropy.”
When asked about her favorite experience as a co-founder of a new brand, Vennat says, “Every now and then, I see someone around our community wearing a bracelet I made or a sweatshirt I helped design, and I probably cherish this the most. It’s a beautiful reminder that because of Well Worn Strings, we are not just designers; we are philanthropists, and our customers are charitable contributors that not only share in our socially-conscious vision, but in the community we built through our brand.”
Next year, the co-founders plan on continuing and expanding Well Worn Strings, depending on which colleges they choose to attend.
The Etsy store can be accessed at www.etsy.com/shop/wellwornstrings and also through UNI Style Co.’s Facebook page. Irvine Residents can use the coupon code IRVINERESIDENTSONLY to eliminate shipping costs, since the girls also deliver their items personally.