2022 Amazing Kids - Lake Oswego
School: Lake Oswego High School
Hometown: Lake Oswego
REASON THEY’RE AMAZING: Jessica uses their love for sewing to create products that help people, and make the world a more inclusive and environmentally-friendly place.
PROUDLY SPONSORED BY:
LAKE OSWEGO STUDENT SEWS A MORE INCLUSIVE FUTURE
In the middle of a crowded art show, Jessica Martin sat at the end of a foldable table covered with cotton pads of different patterns.
As a steady stream of attendees paused to look at the selection, Jessica diligently fed a piece of upcycled fabric through the rapid needle of a sewing machine.
“Did you know that disposable pads take many hundreds of years to break down in a landfill?” a paper on Jessica’s table read.
While at home during the COVID-19 pandemic, Jessica, a freshman at Lake Oswego High School, created 7Puppies Designs — a company that makes reusable cloth products like menstrual pads and diapers using recycled fabrics. Jessica was motivated to start the business as a way to provide environmentally-friendly and inclusive alternatives to help future generations thrive.
And in March, Jessica took the plunge and decided to introduce their company to the world.
After a positive response from the community at the art show, they decided to set up an Etsy shop where they could sell the cotton pads and diapers under the 7Puppies name — which is still in progress.
“(Starting 7Puppies) was just wonderful because it’s helping a lot of people and it was also sort of a coping mechanism for them, especially with COVID-19. But it has grown so much.” said Dawn Martin, Jessica’s mother. “Jessica is not the kind of person who likes to sit around and worry. They like to take action.”
Jessica hopes that the company will be one of the big competitors in the reusable product franchise one day while also creating a wave for people to start recognizing the importance of inclusive and environmentally-friendly items.
With the slogan: “Be a puppy,” Jessica’s project sends the message to be kind towards others regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, or other identity-defining factors.
“Being a ‘puppy’ means to be kind — and to do your personal best to (help) others,” Jessica said.
Jessica’s menstrual items are marketed for everyone. Jessica said that there are an increasing number of members of the LGBTQ+ community who need to use menstrual products and men who might need to use the products for health reasons. Jessica was motivated to create a product that anyone could use without a stigma.
Jessica learned how to sew when she was just 5 years old. Their mother remembers them reading an instructional manual about sewing from cover to cover.
“They would sit on my lap and operate the machine while I guided the fabric. It was terrifying, but also incredible,” Dawn Martin said.
And Jessica’s sewing volunteerism spreads beyond their start-ups. For the past couple of years, Jessica has also worked with the nonprofit With Love of Oregon, which supports foster families, by providing cloth diapers and other supplies they find on the Next Door app for children.
“Foster families are often unprepared because their children have to move with no notice. And the children are often shocked when they have to all of a sudden move into a new foster home,” Jessica said. “I wanted to help people (like this) because there are a lot of people who are less fortunate than I am.”
And in partnership with Jo-Ann’s, the craft and art supply store, Jessica also donated over 300 masks that they made to hospitals and senior homes during the height of the pandemic. In addition, Jessica is currently making menstrual products and diapers that she intends to send to Ukraine.
“They are very talented with their hands and have a lot of manual dexterity, which some artists don’t have,” said Jessica’s teacher, Robin Byrd. “And they just have a really kind heart, and are very passionate about helping others with their skills.”