Samantha Weigel/Daily Journal
Ricochet owner Jill Pillot teaches sisters Dakota and Charley Peebler how to make their own clothes out of reused fabric.
What started out as a small consignment shop more than 18 years ago, has transformed and expanded into a place where people of all ages are encouraged to be creative.
Jill Pillot said her business is the longest standing on the 1600 block of El Camino Real across from the Safeway in San Mateo and about eight years ago decided to convert her consignment store into something innovative.
She created Ricochet, a small clothing shop that functions like a school and teaches practically anyone who’s interested in transforming discarded clothing into unique, wearable art.
“This is a longtime dream. I always wanted to teach, I wanted to be creative, I wanted to open up doors for people that needed some help,” Pillot said. “It’s a big passion and it’s a journey and I get to see it become much stronger. I’ve worked seven days a week for the last 18 years. And yes, it’s very fulfilling and building it step by step.”
This weekend, Ricochet is celebrating its grand opening after moving from a 300-square-foot space to a 1,700-square-foot site two doors down. Pillot said she hopes her new storefront will promote her and her students’ dreams.
“San Mateo doesn’t have anything like this; an artistic outlet like this, an opportunity for artists to grow no matter what their ages are, no matter what their skills are. I started all this with a vision,” Pillot said.
Pillot, a Belgium native who came to the United States in 1989 with the dream of owning a business, said she hopes the larger location will allow her to foster more talent, host fashion shows, provide space for students to create their own line of clothing and provide storefront space for emerging designers.
With her new space comes room for her student and intern programs to grow. Pillot said over the years she’s taught students of all levels from ages 8 to 70. Pillot said classes revolve around the students and how she can help them create their own designs or gain real-world experience in the industry.
Sisters Dakota Peebler, 8, and Charley Peebler, 10, have been taking classes with Pillot for more than a year and say their ability to express their creativity makes time at Ricochet a joy.
“You get to make whatever you want and there’s no strict rules about it,” Dakota Peebler said. “For me, sewing is really fun and easy once you get the hang of it.”
She also takes on high school and college interns who want to build portfolios or resumes. Those interested in fashion and design will learn how to sew and create through Pillot’s one-on-one instruction. For photographers and models, they can work either shooting or modeling her designs and in fashion shows. For those interested in marketing, Pillot said Ricochet participates in fashion shows throughout the Bay Area and needs event coordinators.
“The idea is really for the fashion or the creative person to believe and follow their passion and make it happen for themselves instead of just making it a hobby … so I try to really support them so they can grow within their passion,” Pillot said.
Throughout the years, her internship programs have grown in demand and she now has about 40 eager fashion enthusiasts a year. Currently, Pillot asks for a 120-hour commitment, but would like to expand that into two- or three-month commitments. Pillot said as her designs have become national, she’s also received internship requests from people in other countries.
Through Ricochet, interns are “exploring the fashion industry, learning how to create clothes, especially with the environment in mind, which is everything we do it’s rescued material and the new generation is very excited about that part and that’s what people have in mind now, is to be conscious about the environment,” Pillot said.
Pillot said the main premise of her business and designs is turning salvageable goods into wearable art, which is becoming an increasingly popular philosophy.
Not yet a teenager, Charley Peebler is already conscious about the environment and how to be inspired through discarded fabrics.
“You can make really interesting things and you use a lot of neat and interesting fabrics. It’s also creative and fun. I think it’s eco-friendly and good for the environment and you don’t have to buy more polyester and silk and fabric,” Peebler said.
Pillot said she’s always had a desire to teach, create and run a business. To be able to do it all under one roof has been a dream. She hopes her clothes, store and programs impart self-esteem on anyone who touches them.
“I like to live a little, very simple life. I’m not too much a materialistic person and I’m happy just seeing the person leave and feel accomplished and then they can spread the word to others about themselves and hopefully they can go and do the same so they can shine and help others,” Pillot said. “I feel like [Ricochet is] a great asset to the community and this building here, now I feel like we finally have a presence.”
Ricochet’s grand opening is 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. May 3-4. Ricochet will also host happy hour potlucks the first and last Thursdays of the month.
For more information about Ricochet, classes and internships visit www.ricochetwearableart.com.
(650) 344-5200 ext. 106