An old friendship and a few pairs of old jeans created a unique business venture for Sheila Collins and Lori Archer.
The two met about eight years ago in a church English as a Second Language (ESL) class that Collins was teaching and they bonded easily. Archer eventually moved away from the area for a few years, but the two reconnected when she returned in 2020, and their mutual interests led them to craft and sew together.
It was that year that they decided to get together during the holidays and make Christmas decorations. Archer, a self-proclaimed “Pinterest addict,” said the project got them excited about doing things together, and they soon realized they were both equally fond of it.
“I was really passionate about making denim, so I knew [Sheila] knew how to sew, and I like to make things,” Archer explained.
The two decided to focus on denim and from this idea, Denim Duovers was born. Together they transform jeans into unique and useful accessories, true to their motto – “We Give Jeans a Second Chance”.
They offer a variety of bags – ranging from crossbody types to small handbags, and their style ranges from shabby chic to sleek and finished. One particularly popular variety they offer is the “hip bags” that Archer invented while working on her farm.
“I have a farm and I garden a lot, so I found that most of my clothes didn’t have proper pockets,” she said.
So she designed a small bag consisting of a belt and a back pocket of jeans that can easily carry smaller items like a cell phone, credit cards, glasses, and lip balm.
“That solved my problem,” she explained. “I carry my phone in my fanny pack.”
Working together, Collins and Archer each bring their own unique skills to the business. Collins is the machine sewer and Archer finishes the designs with embellishments. They exchange ideas about each other and come up with something unique and usable.
“Most of my input is hand sewing and drawing, while Sheila’s is the meat and potatoes of how to put that into something that’s usable,” Archer explained.
“I could put something together with the machine, but then she embellishes it with her artistic stitching and stuff,” Collins added.
Archer brightens up items with embellishments like rhinestones, beads, buttons, and even paint.
“All are different because each is individually created,” Archer said.
In addition to bags, they also made jewelry, mug mats, aprons, and more. One of the next projects they plan to tackle is making denim earrings.
The two recently attended their first art show at Eclectic in downtown Milledgeville, but they both confess that they struggle to see themselves as artists.
“I think it’s funny to be called an artist because I don’t see myself that way,” Collins said. “I don’t draw, I don’t paint, I don’t do any of those things. I learned to sew at home in school years ago, and I never thought of sewing as an art. It was just something you did for convenience.
Archer’s love of crafting grew out of a love of crafting with his children. And now it has become an unexpected form of relaxation.
“For me, it’s so relaxing to sit down with a piece of fabric and create and sew or doodle with pens on paper,” she said.
It’s clear during the conversation that the duo really appreciate the work they do together, and there’s a nice reward to creating something that others can enjoy in the process.
“I love seeing something come together from a pair of jeans that you had to cut around a stain or a tear and make something useful out of them… The end result is rewarding,” Collins said.
Denim Duovers have items available in store at Eclectic as well as Deep River Outfitters in Tennille, and they will also have a stand at Duckworth Farmer’s Market when it reopens in May. Anyone interested in contacting them directly can do so on Instagram.