Fashion, sewing, and philanthropy seem to come naturally to Menlo Park resident Lauren McGinnis. On her own initiative, the Hillview School 7th grader started making cloth bags last fall, which she sells at Angel Heart Cakes, donating $2 per bag to My New Red Shoes.
“I first learned about My New Red Shoes when I was a first grader at Oak Knoll and my Mom was involved in a clothing drive,” said Lauren. “So, when I decided to donate some of the purse proceeds to charity, I picked MNRS.”
Over the holidays, Lauren sold about 100 bags and also had quite a few special orders. That resulted in a $250 donation to MNRS. According to Lauren’s mom, Irene Searles, the bag production has also been a great learning experience.
“When she first started, we made her pay for her materials (fabric and zippers), and then she had to calculate how much she could sell the bags for, to make enough money for her time,” said Irene. “Then, she picked the charity and decided how much to give. She also learned how to speed up her production by doing batch processing instead of making each bag one at a time.”
Lauren first learned to sew at a camp taught by Sonia Moroder when she was in 5th grade. She’s also taken a class in fashion drawing/water colors from her neighbor, Giovanna Baffico, currently studying at Marist College. From the clutch-size bags she first produced, she’s expanded into other cloth items — Klennex holders and an eye glass case lined with fleece, making it easy to clean the glasses.
“My favorite fabric store is Peapod in San Francisco,” Lauren said. “I buy mostly cottons but work in linen a bit, too. Recently, I made my first bigger purse, a city tote bag. And, I’ve also begun making flag type, string celebration banners — Happy Birthday and things like that — from reusable materials.”
Lest you think that Lauren spends all of or her free time sewing, she also plays basketball and lacrosse and is taking French lessons. “This summer I’m going to live with a French family for three weeks,” she said. We presume she’ll be packing a few of her cloth bags as gifts.
Orders for Lauren’s bags can be made through her mother Irene: firstname.lastname@example.org.