As a kid, Hamilton Township resident Rhapsody Hahn was driven to create. Her grandmother, Mary Schrag, recalls her as a 10-year-old who wrote and illustrated her own children's book and built a cardboard castle - complete with moat and working drawbridge - with her sister.
Now, after years of working in the fashion industry in Manhattan, the 26-year-old has created her own label, Turnovers, a unique clothing line specializing in reversible clothing for babies and toddlers.
Hahn said the abrupt professional shift came about as the result of another life-changing moment: her becoming a mother.
"I never saw myself in baby, children's clothing, ever. I thought I wanted to do haute couture," Hahn said. "I had babies, and I realized the need for something like this, and my point of view changed."
Hahn knew she wanted to go into fashion since she was 7 or 8, when she found herself taken with the elaborate styles worn in the 1964 film "My Fair Lady."
At 17, she earned her GED and left home to pursue a fashion-design degree at the Art Institute of Philadelphia. Following her graduation in 2007 at 20, she took a series of jobs in New York City that saw her living her high-fashion dream, but in summer 2009, when she gave birth to son Caedyn, everything changed.
She moved back to Mays Landing to live with family while on maternity leave with the intention of telecommuting, but when that didn't work out, she took a job as a tailor for the Coast Guard. It was two years later, when she was again on maternity leave after giving birth to her second son, Gaebriel, that she got the idea for Turnovers.
What sets Turnovers apart from typical children's clothing labels is that items are boy-girl reversible, meaning they can be turned inside out to be appropriate for either sex, giving them added utility for parents of twins or multiple children of different sexes, and for parents who choose not to know the sex of their baby.
The clothes are made of a soybean-cotton blend, which makes them more expensive than typical, non-organic fabrics, but it also results in a softer, more eco-friendly product. What's more, the fabrics are not treated with chemicals, making them safe for baby's sensitive skin.
"We're really going after that natural mom who wants to provide high-quality, natural clothing that she'll use again and again," Hahn said.
Turnovers made its debut with a booth at the Hamilton Township Hometown Celebration the weekend of June 28, the culmination of two years of work, not just by Hahn but by a veritable army of friends and family, who pitched in as babysitters, publicists, secretaries and couriers.
Friend Tracey Stiteler-Berkland, who helped work the booth at the Hometown Celebration, said she and Hahn put in many long nights in making Turnovers a reality.
"I have zero expertise in the fashion world," Stiteler-Berkland said. "She'd be like, 'OK, do this,' and send me on my job, but we all put so much effort into this."
Now, Hahn is looking to expand her business by finding more brick-and-mortar retailers for her goods and getting her brand out there. Next, she plans to design a reversible nursery decor line, bringing her line's trademark versatility to that area, too.
While Turnovers may not be the dream Hahn had for herself when she was 8 years old, at 26, there is nowhere she would rather be.
"I didn't want to leave my job, which I loved, but it was just a matter of changing my priorities and my perspective being open," Hahn said. "Amazing things happened."
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