Treasure

Passionate pursuits: Meet several Idaho-based designers of everything from dresses to watches

Boisean Meagan Jones’ versatile and luxurious gowns are perfect for special events, weddings and more.
Boisean Meagan Jones’ versatile and luxurious gowns are perfect for special events, weddings and more. Bart Cepek Photography

Meagan Jones

Meagan Jones was born and raised in Boise, but it took a journey of adventure, fashion and music to bring her back home to open her first gown shop.

Crowned Miss Teen Rodeo Idaho in 1998, her fashion career began as she started sketching designs for pageant gowns. The drama in her gowns didn’t come from sparkle and bling, but from the fabrics she chose and the way she draped them so flatteringly to work with her curves. She sold her dresses to other contestants and made custom pieces for friends and family. Her mother encouraged her to enroll in design school, but Meagan wanted a “real job” and moved to Seattle to work in IT.

After a tech-bubble bust in the ’90s, Meagan moved to Arizona and Texas to work in the music industry, but life led her back to design. As an on-stage performer, she found it hard to find cute costumes that fit her hourglass shape but didn’t make her sweat buckets in the summer concert heat. So she picked up her sketchbook and began to create again.

It didn’t take long for Meagan’s dresses to catch the interest of fans and friends alike. She launched an Etsy shop, and the bridal world fell in love with her gowns, which make perfect bridesmaid dresses in matching colors and/or styles. Soon, Meagan realized she had time for only one career. So back to Boise she came to be closer to friends and family, setting up her shop Rooney Mae Couture in Downtown Boise.

Meagan’s dresses are luxurious, but affordable and comfortable. The straps can be converted to halter, criss-cross and even spread wide to create sleeves — the possibilities are endless, making each gown a fashion statement you can wear a dozen different ways. Her shop is at 405 S. 8th St. in Boise: Mjvocouture.com, (512) 363-0748 for inquiries or to make an appointment.

Rita Thara

27-year-old Rita Thara has been through a lot. As a young girl, her family fled the Congo War (which took her father’s life) and found refuge in the Central African Republic, where they began to apply for U.S. visas. That process took 18 years.

After arriving in the U.S. in 2012 with her mother and brother, Rita began collaborating with her mother, Veronique, to launch a clothing shop at the Boise International Market.

With an eye for design, Rita began following in her mother’s footsteps at a very young age. Veronique had been a model in Switzerland and learned to design and sew. In the Democratic Republic of Congo, Veronique founded her own clothing company, which was thriving until the war destroyed it all.

Sadly, the women’s dream again came to a grinding halt in September, when a fire broke out at the Boise International Market, destroying at least 16 businesses that flourished there. Rita lost all her current work — including dresses, purses, shoes — as well as mannequins and sewing machines.

“It’s all gone now, every single thing,” Rita said with tears in her eyes. But she’s determined to start again, already making plans to create new designs. “I had one sewing machine at home that I was planning to take into the shop soon, but thanks to God, I didn’t!”

Rita’s designs reflect her vibrant energy. In the beginning, she used only African fabrics, but she is expanding to include new colors, patterns and materials from around the world in her new line. As she works on opening a new shop, you can lend your support at dm2.gofund.me/friendsofrita.

“It makes us so happy to see someone wearing our bag, or a pair of shoes, or a dress around town,” Rita says.

Apache Pine Watches

Jordan Duran is the founder of Apache Pine. Originally from a tiny town in Bear Lake County called Georgetown, his family moved to Pocatello when he was 13 years old. He has been working alongside his father for eight years now, developing many highly technical parts for pumping systems.

They always knew their skills could be useful in many industries, and about a year ago, the inspiration for Apache Pine came to life, as Jordan discovered he wanted a high-quality, durable and sustainable watch for his adventurous lifestyle. He used his knowledge in 3D design, along with his father’s vast experience in mechanical engineering, to design, develop and test wood watches.

Jordan has a deep love for the outdoors. His watches are made from renewable resources and resemble the beautiful places that he loves. It’s like having a small piece of the forest with you, that you carry on your wrist. In Jordan’s words, “I love wearing an Apache Pine watch because it reminds me of nature and gets me excited to go outside.” Hence the company’s tagline: “Take nature with you.”

Apache Pine watches (along with caps, beanies and hand-crafted solid oak men’s rings) are available at apachepine.com.

Dad Clothes

Dad Clothes began at Burning Man in 2014. Boise artist Cody Rutty attended the annual festival in Nevada devoted to creativity and self-expression for the first time along with his friend Matt, and they wore the same basic clothing they wore at home: plaid shirts, khaki shorts, T-shirts, etc.

When a woman asked why they were wearing “dad clothes,” an idea was born. Cody had long fostered the idea of entering into some avenue of fashion and decided that the notion of Dad Clothes was a perfect origin and moniker, so he began developing a line of clothing.

Dad Clothes has a style and aesthetic that revolves around words and association, coupled with Cody’s unique artistic designs and photographer Erika Astrid’s images.

The shirts contain an element of reaction toward all the witty, comical shirts on the market today, some of which make immediate sense but don’t pack a punch. Cody sees his designs as containing deeply rooted commentary on corporate America and also an ongoing musing of social conundrums that artists experience in the face of commercialization. Some of the shirts, for example, deal with China’s economic relationship with the United States, while others, such as “It doesn’t pay but it’s great exposure,” speak directly to artists and other creatives.

In addition to shirt designs, Dad Clothes has an online magazine consisting of art and oddities, and recent science and computer news. Shop online and view the magazine at dadclothes.com.

The Rusty Pearl

The Rusty Pearl is a collaboration between two women with a passion for vintage — and the skills and creativity to create something new out of something old. Their company specializes in giving new life to old furniture, decorations, home accessories and other reclaimed materials.

One half of the team is Sarah Lett, whose love of antiques and all things vintage started as a young child while trailing her family members through countless antique markets and dilapidated barns in the Pennsylvania hills and many garage sales with her picker-extraordinaire mother. The other half of the team is Kari Stephensen-McGhie, who was born and raised in Eagle and has a knack for interior design.

These two longtime friends also have full-time day jobs but use their off-hours to revive well-loved pieces of “junk” into gloriously restored decor items for any home.

And that business name? Sarah is considered the rust to Kari’s pearl. She often finds the diamonds in the rough. Then it’s Kari’s turn to start sanding, sawing and painting to get the gems shining. They love finding things that are one of a kind and have a story. “Those are the kind of things I surround myself with, and those are the kind of people I like to be surrounded by,” Kari says.

From renovating old tables to detailing sassy phrases with calligraphy onto tea cups, the two are able to replicate or create specific looks. Request a custom piece or follow their Facebook and Instagram accounts to shop for in-stock items (therustypearl.com, 841-8458, 371-4929).

Retro Hunny

Chante Hamann started Retro Hunny after being a pinup finalist in the first year of the 208 Tattoo Fest. For each event, she created a new outfit, and festival producer Kay Lee took notice. When the next 208 Tattoo Fest rolled around, Lee asked if Chante would be willing to make outfits for each finalist and put on a fashion show. Chante agreed and went from a client base of two to 22 overnight.

Though her clothing line Retro Hunny officially began in 2013, she has been sewing for herself, friends and family since 1994. She was always drawn to decades-earlier silhouettes because of their feminine style, and began dressing in vintage clothing right out of high school.

“I always felt like myself when I wore them. (But) as I began to search for vintage items to build my wardrobe around, I quickly realized the best items were often several sizes too small for me,” Chante says. Rather than give up on her retro wardrobe dreams, she decided to create her own.

Today, Chante specializes in co-creating vintage-inspired clothing with her clients, encouraging them to be part of the process.

Chante works primarily by appointment, with very few “ready made” items. Her Facebook page (facebook.com/retrohunny) and Instagram (@retrohunnyclothing) have galleries of past orders, along with any “ready-mades” available. Browse the photo galleries and pick a silhouette, or find a reference photo and email to retrohunny@gmail.com to order or to arrange a meeting.

Catch RAW:Boise on Nov. 5

Take note: If you want to see more of the Valley’s creativity, check out “RAW:Boise Presents Uprising” at 7 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 5, at the Powerhouse Event Center, 617 S. 17th St. in Boise. Tickets are $15 in advance; $20 door. The evening highlights everything from fashion to photography to live music. Photographer Bart Cepek, for instance, will be featuring photography that showcases Meagan Jones’ dresses. (He also took the photo of Meagan and her work on page 11.) Learn more about the RAW artists at rawartists.org/boise/uprising.

Email Tanya your ideas and questions for Treasure at Tanya@stylespygirl.com. Visit her blog at stylespygirl.com for more Treasure Valley shopping news.

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