Students who design, upcycle and create


West Ranch is home to many dedicated students who put their dreams into action. On campus, a variety of talented students share their passion for fashion and making clothes whether it is upcycling, crocheting, re-selling or sewing.

Savannah Thorstensen 

     During the COVID-19 lockdown, West Ranch junior Savannah Thorstensen began to create clothes in her spare time. Thorstensen eventually developed a passion for designing, transforming her initial hobby into a side hustle: Savvy’s Star Shop, a small online business where Thorstensen makes tattoo-inspired designs and prints on clothing. 

      When she began her business, Thorstensen switched from ironing each design onto her clothes to investing in a heat press. “The biggest thing that sparked my interest in it was getting a heat press, which made the process a lot faster and allowed me to actually sell my clothes,” she explained. Additionally, she began to use a variety of helpful platforms and apps to make the designing process more efficient and precise. 

   Thorstensen starts by finding inspiration on Pinterest, a platform where people can explore and discover by browsing through pictures and videos to save and organize into specific interest boards. After an idea sparks, she sketches her design on an iPad using a digital illustration app, Procreate. Then, she transfers the design into Cricut, an online smart cutting machine that helps her print out her design and press it onto her desired clothing piece.

    Thorstensen explained that she found the process to be fulfilling, as it allowed her “to express creativity and showcase it to the world.” She added, “It’s really nice to see when people buy my designs because it shows that people actually like what I do, and it’s a good feeling.”

    Thorstensen plans to work with graphic design and expand business with Savvy’s Star Shop. Some future plans for the small business include setting up a pop-up shop at a flea market, but her main goal is to sell more online at the moment.

   Customers can contact Savvy’s Star Shop through Instagram or Depop, a platform where people can buy and sell fashion pieces. There, those interested can message Thorstensen if they have any questions.


Ritta Hajjar 

   What began as a mere hobby has blossomed into a passion that West Ranch junior Ritta Hajjar has mastered to create a variety of clothes— crochet. From shirts to hats and bags, Hajjar has spent five years honing her skills to create crochet pieces in her own specific style. 

   Hajjar first picked up the craft through a school friend who she describes as her inspiration to begin crocheting. She explained, “In middle school, I had a friend who used to crochet all the time during recess and so I was always interested in what she was doing. Then, she taught me to do it.”

   From middle school to now, Hajjar has developed her talent by creating more complex pieces with her own personal style. Hajjar goes through her process of creating these pieces. “Usually I’ll find a pattern online that I like and I’ll go and buy the yarn to make it. Then I’ll follow the pattern step by step. I prefer reading written out step-by-step directions rather than following a video tutorial.”

   Although Hajjar has become well-versed in the hobby, she expressed that she has no desire to begin a business of her own, and would expand her craft by creating more gifts for family and friends. 

   To Hajjar, crocheting means more than just creating clothing or gifts for friends— in fact, it has shaped her as a person. “Crochet has done wonders for my confidence,” Hajjar explained. “I’m not a very athletic or studious person, so I always felt like I didn’t have something that made me feel good about myself. Crochet became that thing that makes me excited and curious to learn more about it. It gives me confidence because it shows me that I can do whatever I want to as long as I put in the time and effort.”


Elise Kim 

   In an effort to fashion a variety of tops, dresses, skirts and other pieces for herself, West Ranch junior Elise Kim found her passion in sewing. Kim explained that her passion came from her enjoyment of “the dual aspect of sewing. There’s creativity in it, but there’s also a methodicalness to it when following the patterns and cutting exactly along the lines.” 

   After an initial aim to follow the works of her skillful mother, who taught her to sew and assemble clothes, Kim discovered that she enjoyed sewing garments during the COVID-19 lockdown in her spare time, which heightened her interest in the skill even more. With time, Kim realized that she enjoyed making outfits whenever she could, or whenever she felt inspired to sew a new design together into a piece.

   Depending on the project and item, Kim usually begins the process of creating by scrolling through ideas on Pinterest and making a mood board, or a collage of inspiration, like many others. After finding a pattern to buy or using an existing piece of clothing to use that she likes, Kim copies her desired pattern on pattern paper and sews the piece together.

   Although an enjoyable pastime, designing and creating an item is not always a linear path to success. “It can get really frustrating when something doesn’t match up or something doesn’t go as planned and it’s [the] most frustrating when you have an idea of what you want your clothing to look like and it doesn’t look like that at all,” Kim clarified.

   Through sewing, Kim has evolved her interests and adapted valuable skills, yet she does not have any intentions to progress in expanding her sewing interest into a career pathway. Moreover, Kim had expressed that she found sewing to be “a valuable skill to have going forward because I could make my own things, so that’s always nice, especially when I couldn’t buy it.” 


   Students can discover and follow their true passions by exploring their own personal interests. Through the fabrication and design aspects of making clothes, these students’ interest in using fashion as an enjoyable pastime has developed further as a result of their own passions.