Kent State Fashion Professor Finds Passion in Restoring Furniture
Marji Wachowiak has always been drawn to buying. Now a lecturer in Kent State University’s Fashion School, Ms. Wachowiak enjoyed an extensive career in the fashion industry where she was a buyer and product developer for Macy’s, Target and wholesalers.
She loves discovering interesting pieces and finding ways to change them into her current style, sometimes engaging in staining, rebuilding and/or adding new fabric to furniture and other household items.
“Repurposing furniture is a de-stressor because sanding and painting can really calm you down,” she says. “I don’t do very intricate stuff, but I find it very relaxing, and I feel extremely satisfied when I’m finished. It really started because I love the treasure hunt, and I love to pick up things from vintage stores and flea markets.”
Ms. Wachowiak started collecting lamps and lampshades for about 20 years, and about 10 years ago, she started to put them together.
“Lamps are an example of where I put different pieces together,” she says. “I have a stool, which was an old piano bench that I reupholstered using fabric that I bought in China, and then I painted it. The specific piece leads me to what I do with it.”
Once, she went to an estate sale and found a full set of china that was more than 150 years old and completely intact.
“It was amazing, so I bought it,” she says. “And the way I built the rest of my china collection was looking for pieces to put around it.”
After a fulfilling career in the fashion industry, Ms. Wachowiak turned to teaching to share her experiences.
“I always enjoyed mentoring in the industry,” she says. “I was very well-respected by my company for working with newcomers and being able to teach them. For me, it just seemed like a natural transition to go back to school and start teaching.”