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Upcycling Expert - Annie Temmink

Annie Temmink

Annie completed her BA in sculpture and math from Davidson College in North Carolina, and received a Thomas J Watson Foundation Fellowship to travel independently for twelve months studying fashion and textiles.  From Indonesia to Japan, India to Uganda and Tanzania, she worked with village women, dove through sprawling second-hand markets and explored fashion in the world’s biggest cities and smallest towns.  The scope of her studies took her from preparing plants for organic dyes to exploring the factories that produce clothing for brand name stores.

Much of Annie’s inspiration comes from common or unwanted materials whose wide availability sparked her interest in recycling materials six years ago. Now she transforms repurposed clothing into sculpture for solo exhibitions and larger installations. Her work catches attention including that of trend forecasting companies in New York and private collectors on the east coast. Annie looks forward to blogging about her experiences and showing you how to create fabulous projects (clothing, jewelry and beyond) with materials from Goodwill.

Annie currently designs and makes clothing and accessories (and dances like-a-fool) in Charlottesville, Virginia. To learn more and to see Annie's projects visit: www.artemmink.com

Make Those Old Kicks Look Like New

Posted by Jamie Klinger-Krebs on Aug 13, 2014 1:58:00 PM

shoesMost of my friends are astonished when they find out I get most of my shoes from Goodwill.  A lot of people expect shoes to be the hardest thing to find second hand, but most of the time, you just need to know how to clean your shoes to have real luck with Goodwill footwear. 

I consistently find high-end brands like Nike, Steve Madden, Nine West, and Banana Republic too. Goodwill always has a variety of wild- colored shoes for going out, work shoes, and great high tops and sneakers too! You just need to be persistent to find the right size. Make sure to shop often to find the best shoes.  And, more  importantly, don’t overlook shoes that are a little dirty. With this tutorial you’ll be able to brighten up those slightly worn-in shoes, and have them looking brand new again. 

Here’s what you’ll need:

-Tennis shoes from Goodwill


-Hydrogen peroxide


-Plastic wrap

-Old scrub brush or toothbrush

(This is a common recipe for retrobright, which is a formula a lot of sneakerheads use to brighten their soles. For more information search online for retrobright and read about it!)

First mix about a third of a cup of hydrogen peroxide with about a teaspoon of cornstarch. Put in the microwave for about a minute, or until it begins to thicken like glue.  Then add a tablespoon of OxiClean. It will start to fiz a bit, but mix everything together and it’ll be just fine.

shoesUse an old scrub brush to apply this mixture to rubber soles, or the white interior fabric.  Note: I’ve only tried this on sneakers and not high-quality leathers or mesh.  If you don’t want to ruin your shoes I would either do a test on part of the shoe that you won’t see, or find a cobbler and ask them what they recommend for specialty materials.  Luckily Goodwill’s prices are so affordable that you could even buy a second pair of similar shoes to test with and then upcycle that pair too, or donate them back to Goodwill when you’re finished.

Once you have a good layer on your soles, wrap them in plastic wrap to keep the paste from drying out too quickly, and let them sit in the sun for a few hours. You can also let your laces soak in the extra mixture while you wait. They’ll come out white and squeaky-clean.

Unwrap your shoes and use a toothbrush to do a final scrub.  Rise off any extra paste, rinse out your shoelaces and let everything dry out. Once your shoes are dry, lace them back up and see how good they look! Super white and practically brand new. 

You can see how easy it is to get great designer shoes at Goodwill.  It just takes a little scrubbing.  You’ll save money and the money you do spend will be invested in programs to help your community. So give it a try, you’ll love your new shoes, and you’ll have them just in time for back to school!


Topics: upcycling shoes, shoe upcycle, retrobright, Goodwill, Annie Temmink