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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Carleton chapter.

For a decade, Goldie Harder was performing flips and aerials in competitive gymnastics. Now, the 19-year-old uses her old leotards to create works of art.  

From Back-Flips to Thrift-Flips

Harder, a Calgary native, initially used art as a hobby outside of her sport. From ages six to 16, her schedule was packed with attending practices, completing training sessions, and impressing scouts, leaving art as a creative outlet that provided relief from the demanding atmosphere.

“I would do a lot of crocheting and knitting, just because that was a very stressful time, being an elite gymnast,” she says. “I would fill my free time doing art as almost a meditative action.”

Passionate about expressing herself through colour and cloth, Harder decided to quit the athletic bodysuits she was “pretty much imprisoned in” and commit more time to art, focusing her work on sustainable fashion. 

Finding A Repurpose

The self-taught artist upcycles donated fabrics and visits thrift stores to find materials for her creations. Some of her pieces include a linen bucket hat, a jumpsuit partly made from curtains, and pants sewn from blankets. She says she is inspired by her own nightly dreams, often connecting her work to themes of the earth.

“It really ties into the idea of protecting nature and using reusable options,” she explains. “Repurposing fashion doesn’t have to mean making a whole new product, it could be enhancing something you already have.”

She points to the support of family, friends, and even some figures from her days in gymnastics, such as a former teacher from her Olympian-producing sports high school and her former athletic wear designer. 

“Even now, the woman that used to make my competitive leotards has a bag of recycled pieces for me to work with. I can use that fabric as an uplifting source of my life and my creations,” she says. “It’s kind of a full-circle moment.”

Looking To The Future

In 2020, Harder decided to enroll in a business program at the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology with plans to pursue her artwork as a career. She describes the transition from athletics to education and art as going from “physically confident to intellectually confident.”

When she’s not in her accounting class, Harder is working on an art installation made of recycled billboard vinyl for Canadian art festivals. 

For the future, she plans to promote clothing sales through social media with the hopes of someday showcasing larger works at major art events such as the Burning Man in Nevada. She also hopes to do more collaborative works and experiment with different materials.

For those curious about sustainable fashion, Harder recommends simply starting with your closet and seeing what can be improved. She suggests faux fur for pockets or adding new buttons to jeans.

“It’s finding a way to turn an object into something that makes you happy,” she says. “It brings a lot of accomplishment, motivation, and excitement in being content with the end product and its process.”

Rianna Lim

Carleton '23

Rianna Lim is a journalism and political science double major at Carleton University in Ottawa, Ontario. She is a former Her Campus National Writer and the 2022-23 editor-in-chief of Her Campus at Carleton (and loving it!). She is a passionate reader, London fog lover, and baseball fan. Follow her on Twitter @riannalim02!