Jocelyn Allen has taken fashion on the road this summer with Lemonade, a mobile studio and pop-up shop selling “wearable art”, everything from funky streetwear denim to award-winning upcycled sweatercoats. We hailed Lemonade down long enough to ask Jocelyn about the one-of-a-kind clothes she makes, the art she creates, and of course, her connection with the Muskoka Lakes:
Q & A with Jocelyn Allen
MuskokaStyle: Jocelyn, hello! We love Lemonade, your new mobile studio and pop-up shop roaming Muskoka roads this summer. How did that come to be?
In May 2020 I made the leap into the van conversion world in the midst of the Covid crisis—it turned out to be a blessing in disguise. It was already my dream to create a mobile sewing studio where I could keep my machines and supplies in one place, but also to take them anywhere, whether it be a pop-up shop, a festival or show, or to see individual clients for custom orders. For Summer 2020, respecting Covid guidelines for retail, I’m only meeting with one client at a time on their private properties by appointment, outside on their driveways. I pre-sort my designs by size… I will go anywhere requested in Muskoka until the end of September. I use 75% or more upcycled materials. I do denim shorts, upcycled designs and sweatercoats, plus custom denim jackets for any gender and size. I can assist with styling and offer bespoke alterations. Appointments are one person only at a time, and you also have access to my custom-sewn masks!
MuskokaStyle: Tell us about your connection to cottage country.
My grandparents owned an island on Prospect Lake just east of Bracebridge. I grew up spending magical weekends and summers with them on Back of the Moon Island and Far Waters, which was owned by relatives. I’ve since traced its roots to my maternal grandmother’s father and his father coming to first stand on the hill overlooking the lake. Six generations later, there are lots of us on that lake and now Lake Muskoka as well. My Uncle George once told me, “If your grandfather had of only turned left on Highway 11 instead of right, I would have been able to have a much bigger boat!”
MuskokaStyle: So you spent summers shopping Bracebridge…
Yes… It was always my dream to set up a little store on the main street of Bracebridge where we visited Wenawe’s gift shop…isn’t that THE dream? Three stores later, my second store in life was at age 42 on Manitoba St. It proved too much to manage as a single mom of 3, they were too young, but after I empty-nested, I started dreaming of how I could do it differently into quasi-retirement. That dream came true, first with a studio in Port Carling that took me 12 years to find. And now, finally, what I wanted to do first in my early 20s: rebuild a stepvan into a tiny home studio that I could work and sell from anywhere… but especially Muskoka.
MuskokaStyle: What’s your happiest memory of Muskoka?
When my grandpa would show up in what felt like the middle of the night and whisper to me, “Joey, you want to go to the cottage?” And off we’d go, in my pj’s, and drive in the moonlight to the lake. That little rowboat ride under a moon to the island is something dreams are made of, some people wouldn’t even believe! I do not take one second of that time for granted, but I think the way to appreciate ANY beautiful place in the world is changing.
MuskokaStyle: How long have you been an artist, and why are you an artist?
I believe that some art can certainly be taught, and a lot of artists have taught me over the years…but I definitely fall into the “artist type” category. It’s in the genes, my grandmother was a prolific artist who owned a succesful gallery in Unionville and studied with Fred Varley. I grew up surrounded by the smell of paint. Her brushes soaking in cans of varsol, that my grandpa kept going like something out of The Notebook, even long after her stroke. He once owned a Gliddens paintstore, and I swear he painted everything that didn’t move at the cottage each year: I remember the red year…the green year….the turquoise year…! I’ve got quite a few job skills under my belt, but any ‘day job’ has felt like I was wearing a costume. Makin’ stuff—and making the world as colourful as my brain thinks it should be—that’s where I’m most happiest.
MuskokaStyle: How would you describe your art?
I’ve explored many mediums: watercolour, lettering/calligraphy, embroidery, acrylics, batik/dyeing, macrame and ceramics (of course, born in ’65!). I started making funky clothes as a teen because I was so small and wanted cool clothes, but the only clothes that fit me were what I considered little kids’ clothes. Now, after 40 years of learning mostly exponentially, trial and error, with classes along the way, I’d say I took it all and combined it into what I call Wearable Art: from funky streetwear denim to award-winning upcycled sweatercoats. All my dabbling is in there.
MuskokaStyle: Give us a list of your favourite Muskoka spots.
Gosh, so many! Prospect Lake, the Norwood Theatre in Bracebridge, the fire tower in Dorset, Huckleberry Rock in Milford Bay or the view from the JW Marriott—all must sees for views. I love the amazing rocks and trail down at Wilson’s Falls in Bracebridge and swimming at Bass Rock. The incredible Canada Day Fireworks in Bracebridge, the Torrance Barrens at night!
MuskokaStyle: Jocelyn, thank you! How can our readers reach you?