We had the good fortune of connecting with Steph Olshanski and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Steph, how do you think about risk?
I see risk as a way to exercise your courage. You can’t wait until you feel no fear about something, otherwise it wouldn’t be a risk and you wouldn’t need courage! I feel as though taking risks has led me to the best places and phases in my life. I quit a nice bank job and traveled Brazil and Colombia for a year by myself about three years ago. When I came back from that, I moved from where I had been living for 8 years in North Carolina to San Diego without any contacts or job prospects. I made the choice to launch my business this year and I feel the uncertainties every day, but it has been worth it. It hasn’t been easy, but taking those risks has enabled me to level up in every area of my life in ways I never thought possible.

Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
My art mixes an eye for fashion with sustainability and a passion for the closed loop economy. I focus on upcycling second-hand clothing into wearable art and other objects to keep these items out of the landfill. For example, I take scrap fabrics and paint on them, turning them into earrings. Or I alter a broken down jacket or piece of clothing with art or mending to give it a much longer life, all while educating people on the options they have to completely avoid throwing something in the trash as well as avoid purchasing something brand new. Essentially, I help give the “upper-hand” to secondhand fashion. It started as making gifts for friends and a relaxing hobby, but turned into a website and client network where I act as a personal shopper, upcycler and educator. It was easy internally but not externally, that’s how I know it was the right choice. Overcoming the hurdles of starting a new business was made easier by the passion and belief I have in what I’m doing – something I have never experienced in any other profession I’ve been in. A big lesson I learned is that its 100% OK and even good to let some ducks loose from being all in a row because perfectionism can only get you so far. I also learned that having a job to just pay the bills while you build your dream on the side is admirable and a very valid way to start. I want people to first be aware of the truths about the global fashion industry, and second to be encouraged and inspired that there are ways to live and consume sustainably while also feeling like a million bucks about every piece of clothing they own!

Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
I moved to the area to be close to the beach, so that is a must. Daily walks along the strand and pier in Oceanside, and Solana beach, San Elijo to be exact. I’d avoid the highways and drive up and down South Coast Highway 101 for the stunning views and beach town vibes, stopping at nearly anywhere that sells tacos. I’d take them to my favorite vegan place in Oceanside, The Plot, but I would only tell them its vegan after because the food is just that good. We’d then have some nights on the town in downtown SD in the Gaslamp district, great food and wine in Little Italy and a house party or two in Ocean Beach.

Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I want to dedicate this shoutout to three people that helped show me that alternative ways of life and ideas are the only way to live. To my dear friend and street poet, Kevin Devaney (@kevindevaneypoet). His eternal support and creative push helped me get my ideas outside of my head and make decisions. To Molly McGovern (@wanderingnautilus) – her friendship and connection as a female artist and traveler has meant more than she knows. And back to Liz Murphy (@santoshanutrition) who gave me this shoutout in the first place, without her friendship and zero waste outlook on life I wouldn’t be where I am today.

Website: upperhandmedown.com
Instagram: @upperhandmedown

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