Just a few short weeks after returning to her hometown of Southlake, Texas for quarantine, University of Georgia rising sophomore Sunny Hakemy found herself in need of a hobby. In an attempt to cure her boredom, Hakemy decided to dig out her old sewing machine and revisit a passion of hers that she developed while growing up — fashion design.
From homemade creations of celebrity streetwear to pieces inspired by styles right off the runway, Hakemy quickly rediscovered her love for sewing and wanted to showcase her designs on social media. Little did she know that displaying her creative twist on popular trends would earn her a cumulative amount of over 1 million likes on the video-sharing app, TikTok.
The Red & Black spoke with Hakemy, a marketing major, to hear about her reaction to the growing popularity of her TikTok videos and to learn more about her passion for sustainability in her designs.
The Red & Black: How did you first get started in sewing and fashion design?
Sunny Hakemy: When I was younger I was always interested in design. Growing up. I used to watch Project Runway all the time, which I don't really think was normal for a kid my age, but I was obsessed with it. And so in middle school, I remember begging my dad to get me a sewing machine, and when he did I was so excited. Starting out, I actually taught myself by watching videos on YouTube. But once I got to high school, I joined the dance team, which took up a lot of my time so I kind of forgot about [sewing]. Then when quarantine started, I told myself, “I have this sewing machine sitting here, and I have so many scrub fabrics that I haven’t used so let me just get back into it.”
R&B: Why did you decide to start showcasing your design process on TikTok? What has the response been?
SH: When quarantine started I was bored, and decided I should pick up a hobby, so that’s how I started sewing again. Then I decided I might as well record [my design process] just for fun and to have for myself to look back on. I never expected anyone to really watch it. But after posting my first video it started getting so many likes out of nowhere. I had no idea it was going to get so much attention.
R&B: How do you think your clothes stand out in comparison to other similarly-styled clothing brands such as Urban Outfitters?
SH: I think the main thing that stands out for me is sustainability. Most of the things I make come from scrap fabrics that I’ve had for years or my dad’s old clothes. I’ve been really passionate about this subject for a while, and recently I’ve been watching a lot of documentaries on fast fashion and how unethical it is not only for the environment but for workers too. People tend to buy things from fast fashion brands like Urban Outfitters or Fashion Nova because it’s so cheap, but there are so many things wrong with their methods. And with quarantine I think it’s good how people have so much more time to get creative and take old things from their closet and recreate them rather than ordering a bunch of stuff from those types of brands.
R&B: In many of your TikToks you recreate looks worn by celebrities such as Kendall Jenner, Zendaya and Bella Hadid. Do you have one fashion icon in particular that you look up to when gathering inspiration for your designs?
SH: I generally take inspiration from the look itself rather than the person, but if I had to pick someone it would probably be Kendall Jenner. I recreate her looks all the time because I just love how she has that model-off-duty vibe. But obviously the things that she wears are so expensive, which is why I like to make tutorials on how to recreate these looks so people know that they don’t have to go out and spend hundreds of dollars. I also follow a bunch of style accounts on Instagram, and I'm a huge Pinterest addict so I gather a bunch of inspiration from those as well.
R&B: How would you describe your style in three words or less?
SH: I honestly would say my style is a mixture of everything. I really can’t pick one aesthetic to save my life. For example, some days I’ll dress really Parisian while other days I’ll dress kind of like an E-girl. So I wouldn’t define myself as having one certain style because I like to mix it up a lot.