Let me take you to my happy place.

Loud music is vibing from the speaker towers, caressing my cocheals. Everyone is having a good ole time- smiling, laughing, and moving to the rhythm. I am swerving and grooving around the music festival on my roller skates- just tossing and twirling my favorite pair of scissors. A crowd encircles my live model and I as they look on with curiosity- being inspired by the interactive fashion art happening before their very eyes.

For the past decade, my prominent creative passion has been cutting up used t-shirts and other rescued garments. In my life, Scissors* = Happiness. With the help of my handy dandy scissors, I have cut out my own path to happiness by creating a career that ticks all my boxes.

Art, Environmentalism, Body Positivity ,Human Connection, Travel, and sometimes Music,.

To be honest, I wasn't always this happy. I graduated from the University of Florida with a degree in Environmental Science. Learning all about how severely humans have disrupted the planet and continue to pollute and strip it of its natural resources was quite depressing. Very depressing. To make matters worse, it seemed as though the general public of the US did not even care. We are the largest consumer market in the world but only have 330 million people. The average cotton t-shirt requires 716 gallons of water to create. Yet, they get tossed out so easily at the first signs of wear or stain only to be replaced with the newest of fast fashion. Instead of pointing fingers and criticizing others to guilt them into changing their ways for the sake of saving our only planet, I started communicating through a more positive method. Art. With scissors (and only scissors) I am able to breathe a whole new and stylish life into an overlooked and often ill fitting shirt. I have cut up over 7,000 garments in my decade of snipping. That would be conserving more than 5 million gallons of water.

This artistic process is definitely interesting to watch. Any person that wants their shirt transformed puts it on and takes center stage. I am roller skating around them with sharp scissors in hand, observing the fit, the graphics, and their body shape. My mind is already swirling with many ideas. Some people let me just go to town with my shears but I always encourage collaboration. I say “It is your shirt after all! I want you to feel good in it and love it forever!”

I will prompt the design process by asking a few questions- Do you like sleeves? How do you like the length? Would you like me to take out the collar? I have noticed that 80% of my live models actually let out a relieving sigh when the choking collar of a crew neck is finally removed. You would think more people would be nervous with sharp scissors near their jugular, but the amount of trust people have in me is truly heartwarming. I’m sure you are wondering now if I have actually drawn blood from any of these people. Anticlimactically, no and thank goodness. Gross!

I like to ask which part of their body they would like to show off and if there are any tattoos under here that you would like to show the world! I honestly believe that anyone can rock a cut up shirt. I have cut shirts for big and small, old and young- I love the challenge of making something appropriate for anyone.

Besides talking about design, I get to know the human wearing the shirt. At this moment, we are really the only two people in the world. I like to give each person special attention and care to create an unforgettable memory with a stylish souvenir. We bond and it is beautiful. It is amazing how a t-shirt can tell such a story. I am always honored when someone sends me a shirt that belonged to a loved one that has passed.

With COVID, it's obviously been a lot harder to have this interpersonal encounter. I’ve been lonely and struggling financially. At the same time, I have been blessed with the support of the people who mail me their shirts for customization- it has kept my head above water and kept my happy meter high. Instead of working on a real and amazing human, I resort to one of my many mannequins. I will not disclose the number of mannequins I own. The conversation is boring and usually one sided- but I’m still happy making something from the heart for another human. I tell them that everytime they put on their snipped shirt, they are being hugged by me.

Thank goodness festivals are coming back to our lives! We can once again, unite in real life and not over the zoom screen.

I am rewarded everyday by taking the giant leap to follow my passion and become an artist and small business owner. It did not happen overnight. In fact, a very serious life obstacle pushed me to this point. In 2012, I was diagnosed with Hodgkins Lymphoma. Such a medical threat to my existence was a wake up call. While going through chemo, I decided to finally teach myself music (my name is Melodie afterall!) and also to put my all into the thing I love doing the most- that ticks all my boxes. That love fuels me and scissors are the only tool I need to make it all happen.

*A nice pair of Fiskars that have known ONLY the feeling of fabric

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2 Days before the entire world shutdown due to the pandemic, I was 2,700 miles away from home. Alone in a hotel room, I flew to Pasadena, California for my official America's Got Talent audition in front of the judges and live audience to perform on the largest stage in the world! As the news of Corona became more serious, I was informed that there would be no live audience. That made me a little less nervous but I was bummed that my friends and family that lived nearby could not attend and support.

A few hours after checking in, I read online that the celebrity judge that I was working with was actually feeling under the weather, luckily not with Covid. She had been feeling sick for a few days. I called my producer to confirm and she asked if I could fly all the way back the next week. Disgruntled, I agreed to this. The quarantine went into effect just a couple days later.

It was a strange time for us all. I honestly just stopped everything. I was at a pinnacle point in my career with such an amazing opportunity at my finger tips and it was all put on hold. I swear I didn't cut shirts for 3 months! I took this time to settle into a new place with my handsome partner, to relax, and to start a garden and a new obsession.

There were a lot of positives and negatives that came from covid- 2020 was definitely a roller coaster!

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Updated: Jun 28, 2021

In 2013, I received an email from a producer of NBC's America's Got Talent asking me to audition for the show. My first questions was - how the heck did you find me? They found a video on YouTube of me and my friend Ryan Wheelbarrow creating custom clothing together. (posted below) The producer loved the energy, the dancing, the concept and wanted me to showcase my tshirt cutting talents in 2 minutes or less! I decided against participating in this possibility for many reasons. I always had it in the back of my mind.

Fast forward to 2020, I am on a work snip trip to San Francisco and my cousin forwards me a link to apply for a private audition via his casting director friend. I sent a few examples of my work to her, she loved it, and we scheduled an audition 36 hours later! Mind you, I still only have 120 seconds to wow the casting director and I haven't a clue of what I will do! The wave of excitement and anxiety comes on strong- I realize what a fine line that is to navigate!

The entire 36 hours before the audition, I am beyond nervous. I feel like barfing, I can't eat, it's like my digestion system doesn't know how to function anymore. I'm constantly playing out the best case and worst case scenarios in my head- wondering which way it will go. I haven't practiced and I don't have a model to cut on. What serendipity! My best friend, Luna, was coming to visit me the next day and obliged to do the audition with me as long as I didn't snip off her long beautiful brunette hair!

We arrive to an elementary school for the private audition and I am breathing deeply to keep myself together. We head upstairs and I strap on my roller-skates. Oh yea.. Im pulling out all the bells and whistles to WOW! I start rolling around the hall listening to Moon Hooch to get me amped and in the zone. I am the last act of the day. The acapella group exits the room and I roll on over. My toe stop breaks right off! What?! Really?! Now?!

It's Luna to the rescue and all the staff are scrambling to get different types of tape to repair my skate! We did our best and we laugh as we roll into the audition room...

Let's just say it did not go very smooth. I almost stabbed Luna right in the boob. Must have played it off really well because we got a call back! Can't wait for what's next!

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