At 12, Hannah Morehart was learning to do handwork on her grandmother’s curtains. At 20, she's changing fashion trends.
Hannah Shorts are high-waisted Levi cutoffs embellished with that same grandmother's vintage lace, though she’s saving some for her wedding dress. Hannah also uses old buttons, on-trend fabrics, paint splatters, bleaching, “destroying” and metal studs. And she still does handwork.
“I stitch with a machine around the pocket but I close it with a hand stitch – just to make sure it's durable and washable and will stay really well,” she said.
As for the high waists, every parent applauds her. “High waists are hot!” she said. “I only wear high-waisted jeans. That's what I'm comfortable in. I found jeans in New York and they're red and olive green. I'm obsessed with them!”
Hannah is entering her junior year at the University of Arkansas majoring in apparel studies, and spends her down time following “a ton” of fashion blogs. Her keen interest in trend forecasting is how Hannah Shorts was born.
“I saw this idea but no one had sewn on it – it was just cut-off shorts,” she said, “and I was like, ‘That would be so much fun to do – I'll just put my own spin on it.’ It's just become a lot more popular than I ever thought.”
Popular? She has sewn and sold more than 1,000 pairs of shorts in the past year. They are in boutiques from Fayetteville to Conway and she's received personal orders from a dozen or more states for sizes 00 to 24.
“There have been so many girls that say, ‘I can't find shorts that fit me that look like my age,’” Hannah said, “I want every girl to feel cute and beautiful and if I can help them by making them shorts, great, I'll do it. I want them to feel just as cute as the model-looking girl next to them.”
Former neighbor David Pierce of Hot Springs, a business and marketing major, handles the spreadsheets, among other things. “He always knows what will be really functional in the marketing and business part,” Hannah said, “and I know what will catch the girls' eyes.”
Hannah just recently bought her first sewing machine, returning the one she had been using to its owner – her grandmother Lorena Jordan.
“My mother has Parkinson's and part of the reason Hannah got so involved in sewing is because my mother could no longer sew,” said Gretchen Morehart, Hannah's mom. “She would sit beside her and tell her exactly what to do. She became like my mom's hands.”
Hannah's love of sewing couldn't overcome the rigidity of the sewing class she had to take in college. “Hated it,” she said. But it did expand her knowledge and skills. That's when she started sewing every chance she got – and made herself a pair of black Levi cutoffs, heavy on the bleaching and shredding. Hello, Hannah Shorts.
Hannah, and her shorts, are available on social media. That’s how a young man contacted her to buy shorts for his girlfriend’s birthday. To get a sense of the girlfriend’s style, Hannah went to Pinterest to see what the girl had pinned.
Fashion isn't the only thing Hannah has influenced. As a young girl, she noticed her older brother had a unique style. “He always had style, always knew what was coming up and just didn't really care what other people were doing,” she said. “When I really got into fashion, I realized that's just like every other person in fashion. If something's coming up, they'll be the first ones to do it or they're going to have their own style.”
When Hannah and Evan, 24, ended up in college at the same place at the same time, they naturally talked about their classes. Evan realized what he was studying in his business classes was similar to Hannah's apparel studies classes – but more fun and with clothes.
“I told him, ‘You could keep that business aspect but do it with what you love, which is clothes, obviously,’” she said.
Hannah encouraged him to talk with her advisor and to audit a class. Within a day or two, Evan changed his major. This summer, he did an internship as a buyer for Sears in San Francisco.
Hannah also has two more brothers. Tyler, 28, followed in the footsteps of his father, Randy, and became a physical therapist. This fall, he will be attending Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky. Zach, 21, will be a senior engineer student at UA.
Hannah has her eye on New York for grad school and is coming to terms with the fact she can’t continue to make each pair of shorts herself.
“The biggest thing I've learned personally from the fashion industry is that everything is about connection and personal relationships. I want to have a positive image so I'm going to have to have that positive relationship. I love getting to know people and having that connection.”
And all those pant legs? They get a second chance at fashion again, too. Hannah’s friends at The Good’s repurpose them and in Fayetteville, they get recycled.