As 18-year-old Juleimy poses in a dress she made for a class project, it glitters gold in the afternoon Barranquilla, Colombia, sun. "This was the final work of the last semester," she says. "I made it with two other classmates." The aspiring fashion designer is especially proud of this design. It's made completely from recycled coffee packages and soda caps.
When I found out that Juleimy, a student of fashion design, had made a dress with the paper used to package the coffee made in Colombia and exported to the world, I was astonished and even a little skeptical. I had to see it for myself.
The project was a huge commitment, Juleimy told me. She worked on the dress every day before school. Then she walked — to save money on transportation — more than 30 blocks from the clothing manufacturer to school. Juleimy returned to her house after 10 p.m. Her hard work paid off. The dress made a strong impression at her school, and it will be exhibited there soon.
Juleimy and her classmates wanted to use materials that represent the country. They went to a coffee factory and asked for the paper the factory typically throws away. The paper features the Colombian flag and the coffee grain. For the bodice of the dress, they got flattened soda caps, which they then painted. They decorated it with flowers made from the plastic material of the soda bottles. Undoubtedly, this is a dress made with amazing creativity.
The teen's eyes twinkle when she talks about her dreams of setting up her own dressmaking workshop. And she has convinced me that she will have no trouble creating a successful design career for herself.