By CASSIE LORD
Special to the Greylock Glass
NORTH ADAMS — It’s a cold spring morning as I enter a spacious Victorian home on the outskirts of North Adams. I’m welcomed in by a small, easygoing woman with a smile, and her well-behaved cats and dog. As we conversate throughout the house, we pass by antique rocking chairs and vintage furniture, wandering our way up to the second floor. The “work room,” the driving force of Bell Bottom Blues, is clearly the room she spends most of her time in. She gets to work as I take a seat and we continue talking.
“Sewing saved my life,” Tammy Annichiarico states, taking attention away from her work to make sure I understood exactly what she meant. Tammy was a self-taught seamstress from a young age. Inspired by a home economics course, she found an outlet for her creativity in sewing. Her foster mother supported her, giving Tammy full access to her sewing machine. She began to make clothing, an activity she would continue to improve on while supporting herself and her community.
Bell Bottom Bleus is the fruit of her labor, a thriving online storefront established in 2008. At the beginning, Tammy struggled to find her niche. It wasn’t in the children’s clothes that she had grown to love making, but in the 70’s “wearable art” that she had made growing up. Shipping to many countries including London, South Africa, and New Zealand, her bell bottoms, paisley patterns, and tapestry prints have been pushed worldwide. “Every item on my site is one of a kind,” unique pieces loved by musicians and modern free-spirits alike.
This local seamstress has an ambitious five-year plan to make her business more accessible to North Adams locals and visitors alike. Establishing a brick and mortar storefront in our emerging downtown shopping district is her end goal. She envisions racks of clothes and an in store workshop where she can churn out custom orders within a few hours while customers take in the sights. This, she hopes, will allow her to showcase her talents and support a community she loves.
All of her bell bottoms, for which she’s best known, are made of 100% “deconstructed thrift store denim.” She takes pride in the fact that she can turn something that was no longer wanted into a piece even a rock-star would be proud to wear, while reducing post-consumer waste. Since 2016, Tammy has also participated in Peace by Piece Creation’s Angel Gowns of North Adams where she creates free burial clothing for deceased infants out of wedding gowns. The wedding gowns are donated to Tammy, who then does the rest. She goes as far as to personally deliver and console each recipient.
Businesses like Bell Bottom Bleus, with owners like Tammy, bode well for the future of North Adams and the Berkshires as a whole. Most would agree that sustainability and community involvement are practices that more local businesses should prioritize.