Designing is University of Iowa student Molly Kresse’s niche. Kresse is a social justice major here at the university and is also pursuing a certificate in sustainability.
Growing up, Kresse was thrilled to put an outfit together when it came to school or even an event. While her style has evolved, she still loves to express herself within her clothing.
Kresse said, “I love that each person’s closet can be an eclectic map of their past while showcasing who they are here and now.”
After high school, she took a gap year because, like most of us, the confusion of life set in. Then, the lift-off began.
While she took a pause, she maintained a job at a bar but found herself thrifting and sewing whenever she had the chance. Then she put it all together and started her own brand. Maxwell’s Rocket Shop was born.
The name of her brand was inspired by her mom. “She grew up in a small Iowa town known as Maxwell. The high school no longer exists, but their mascot back in the day was the rockets,” Kresse said. Hence, Maxwell’s Rocket Shop.
When looking through some old photos of her mom in high school, she found a connection to the past. Her mom, who had graduated in the 80s, knew that building a vintage online shop was something that would honor the past that was not hers, but one she craved. She now has her own Etsy account, and Depop.
Kresse loves having the freedom to tinker with designing. “I love creating something new using material that has had a previous purpose and life,” she said.
She also finds it fun to challenge herself by using limited resources in the designing process. Designing created an outlet for dealing with anxiety, depression, and ADHD; Kresse found it helpful for her when needed.
“I view designing as meditative. When I feel like nothing makes sense, or I just need some alone time I can find a sense of peace through creating something,” she said. According to Kresse, the busy lifestyle can become overwhelming, and while she does love what she has created, she is still not sure of what she wants to do just yet.
Kresse said that she understands these feelings are human. “I am thankful for my support system that helps me through the hard times. I have learned I can not do it all alone, be it a small business, work, school, or managing my mental health,” Kresse said. “I’ve learned that sometimes you have to just try it out, even if it is uncomfortable. You never know what good things may come from just going for it.”
When Molly first started, she simply made small changes to the clothing and would sometimes resell items without adding her own spice, but she keeps evolving and is now focused on designing her own work. According to Kresse, she still has a lot to learn, but hopes the Iowa City community will soon see her work.
“I will be at the farmer’s market for a few dates this summer, so I am excited to reach people that way,” Kresse said. Since she sometimes gets consumed in her own sewing world, Kresse would like to branch out and maybe even collaborate with other local artists.
“I think it would be cool to have a community sewing collective. I have the privilege of having access to time, money, and resources to sew,” Kresse said.
Kresse understands that she is privileged in the fact she is able to exploser her passions and experience different ways of life, while some are not as fortunate.“I think a space where anyone from the community can come in to sew, and create would be beautiful,” Kresse said.
When it comes to the business, clothing is not the only thing Molly wants the world to receive. “I want people to see that my clothing is by no means perfect. I am learning and growing—as a person, and as a creator, and I think my clothing reflects that,” Kresse said. “Humans are not perfect, so I don’t know why our clothing needs to be.”
For her clothing, Kresse will make note of the general size on the tags, but will not write them in the clothing. Kresse dealt with an eating disorder and body issues in her past, and is aware that one can be triggered by seeing a clothing size. Her goal is to assure that the relationship between clothing and size does not affect someone.
“Clothing is meant to fit us, we are not meant to conform to clothing. If something doesn’t fit how the person wearing it wants it to, then I think we can take that piece of clothing and modify it,” Kresse said.
While Kresse does run the business, she doesn’t want it to run her. She loves sewing, but will take breaks from time to time so that when she comes back, she is refreshed and ready to get back into the ring. “There is so much in life to explore, and a machine will always be there when you are ready.”