We all have talent. Some people paint. Some write. Others perform. There are math wizards and those who are medically gifted. Makeup artists. Hair gurus. We’ve got lawyers, athletes, social workers, and then there’s Kristen Alyce, who looks at garbage and sees not only its beauty but also the value in these objects.
Her story begins with a pile of magazines. Friends kept suggesting she toss old issues but Alyce was fond of them. Instead, she saw a new purpose for them: “I wanted to find a way to keep [the magazines]. I thought about the pages and colors and began rolling each page, attaching them to one another until I created a corset top. Then I needed a bottom half. I found a material I knew I could make puff into a skirt—Publix grocery bags. That was my first dress.”
Alyce is founder and CEO of Garbage Gone Glam, an aptly named company that promotes the environment’s favorite three Rs—reduce, reuse and recycle—through the creation of fashion a la garbage. It’s a brilliant marketing tool, reminding people to not be wasteful while offering companies an innovative marketing platform. For instance, last year Garbage Gone Glam was sponsored by the Belgian government and Belgium Bike to create a dress out of the Flanders flag for Las Vegas’ cycling trade show, Interbike. Alyce fabricated the straps out of a bike’s rubber inner tubes and used the chain for a bracelet. When hired by Hyundai, she built a dress out of the company’s used seatbelts and pamphlets. “Whether someone is interested in fashion or not, they are drawn to the dresses,” says Alyce, who is based in West Palm Beach, Florida. “Viewers say that seeing the dresses have impacted them in what they throw away.”
Despite being made from garbage, the dresses are remarkably resilient. The heaviest weigh around 10 pounds, but they are wearable and moveable. Alyce is the sole creator, so the handmade dresses range from $500 to $2,000. There are lesser-priced items: ties, headbands and jewelry with prices around $50. She can make a suit for your man. For inspiration, she looks to designer Naeem Khan, known for fusing beads, embroidery, lattice and other handmade fabrics into exquisite gowns, and then there is Oscar de la Renta. “He was absolutely one of my favorites. How could he not be? Style, talent, kindness, compassion and ambition; everything I strive to be. He said, ‘My greatest strength is knowing who I am and where I come from.’”
The quote is fitting since Alyce has always known she was an artist and entrepreneur, not only at heart but also in talent. When she was 8 years old, she sold her jewelry to members of her parents’ New York yacht club and raked in $1,000 in sales. Out of a pool of 50,000 applicants, she was one of the finalists for the now-discontinued Girls Going Places Entrepreneurship Award Program, which recognized young girls demonstrating budding entrepreneurship. “I toured the NYSE, met with executives at Guardian Life Insurance and made it onto Good Morning America with the other finalists. It was an amazing business experience at such a young age.”
Since launching in 2009, Alyce brought on business partner and COO Michelle Fink. Earlier this year they organized photo shoots in Zurich and Milan. They’re working with potential investors to launch a green urban clothing line, made entirely from recycled PET fabric (polyethylene terephthalate, or recycled plastic water bottles). Think urban-trash meets Andy Warhol. “I never imagined turning garbage into something beautiful. Maybe I’ll have a line custom designed for Target or H&M. The possibilities are endless.”