Name: Nadia Kaliszewski
Company name: Big Hollow Designs
What they make: Clothing, jewelry, and accessories using recycled and upcycled materials.
Nadia is one of the creative forces behind Big Hollow Designs, a company selling recycled and repurposed jewelry, clothing, and accessories. Together with her fiancé, Josh, Nadia spends countless hours in her studio, designing creating, and wishing the day was longer so she could bring all the design ideas in her mind to reality. She has been an artist all her life, but only saw her creativity as a money-making endeavor when one night in Encampment, Wyoming, with the music of WhatFest playing in the background, one of her friends noticed that everybody around the bonfire was wearing a funky vest. WhatVest, a collection of party vests inspired by the music festival scene, was born that night and with it, so was Big Hollow Designs.
The first two years in business Nadia kept her full-time job in energy research at the University of Wyoming, but she would race to her studio as soon as she was home to sew and make jewelry until midnight. She took every class available, like apparel construction and graphic design, which could help her get the skills needed to run her own business. The WhatVest line expanded to hats, skirts, one-piece jumpsuits, tracksuits, cloaks, and other fun costumes. Big Hollow Design sells their products at music and mountain festivals around the region. Josh now travels with Nadia to help sell their collections, as well as his own lines of hats, the Burton Double Windsor Hat, which he creates using vintage ties. It was a win-win plan– they get to be in the scene they love, doing what they love, together. Nadia quit her job last august, and Josh has a seasonal job, which allows them to make products on the slow winter months and travel during the summer.
The success and response they have received has kept the company growing: they went from doing 5-7 shows in 2015 to a planned 25+ show schedule for the summer of 2017, both in the region and beyond, in places like California and Oregon. Nadia and Josh enjoy selling to people directly; she thrives in the person-to-person interaction with her customers. But the company also has a website where you can find product pages with photographs and descriptions for her one-of-a-kind inventory.
Nadia chose the name “Big Hollow” as a way to pay tribute to the unique area where she lives and works. The Big Hollow, located just west of the city of Laramie, is the largest wind eroded deflation basin in North America and the second largest in the world. Laramie has been Nadia’s home for the last seven years (before moving here for grad school she spent seven years skiing the Tetons), and its university and unique character influences the company’s design aesthetic.
Big Hollow has recently launched a number of outdoor inspired creations, which Nadia ventures into with a certain comfort, perhaps influenced by her days as a professional skier. She says about the future of Big Hollow: “I wish to do all of this while staying true to my values of using repurposed and recycled materials and making quality one-of-a-kind pieces”.