SilverThorne Clothing: A Story of Survival

By Jon Vreeland   |   May 9, 2019

In July of 2017, Sarah Reed Farmer, now the owner of SilverThorne Clothing, crouched in a fetal position on the floor of her apartment while her boyfriend attacked her. “Stop, please stop!” she pled.

The assault left Sarah with a severe concussion, Post Concussive Disorder (PCD), as well as left frontal lobe brain damage, tinnitus, and PTSD – also known as agoraphobia. For four months Sarah didn’t leave her house due to the fear she suffered amid the assault’s succession, an act of violence that temporarily destroyed her coordination as well. The doctor diagnosed Sarah as an extreme fall risk – Sarah fell at least once a day following the attack.

“The neurologist recommended specific neuro-therapy using right and left hemispheres concurrently to reroute neurons from necrotic brain tissue in order to fire up unused portions of my brain,” explains Sarah.

This is precisely the reason her doctor suggested a hobby, something with her hands. So, Sarah found pleasure and therapy in sewing but continued to lock herself inside her apartment. However, for 14-18 hours a day, Sarah resurrected antique lace and vintage slips and dresses, punk rock and rocker flannels, among other attire she refused to let perish – the TV and the computer not a priority, or even existent at all.

Seven months after the incident, Sarah’s daughter urged her mom to face her fears and get out of the house. But Sarah’s PTSD was still an issue. Her fear of her attacker caused anxiety which led to panic attacks, and Sarah continued to grapple with her balance and her speech.

But the future owner of SilverThorne overcame the emotional paralyzation and found a studio in the Funk Zone, just off Anacapa Street, a one-minute walk to Stearns Wharf. Her sewing remained private, a passion without announcement. “I was still dealing with PTSD, extreme fear, and I didn’t want him to find me,” she said.

But just as the neuro-therapist intended, the sewing proved incredibly effective, and Sarah showed extensive signs of improvement. And after eight months of sewing, her speech improved tenfold, and the restoration of her balance teetered on 100 percent.

Eventually, her neighbors in the Funk Zone discovered what occurred behind Sarah’s always closed door – no signage whatsoever. But her goal to remain inconspicuous didn’t hide the plain old dresses she adorned into something novel – the beading and the antique appliqués, the silk embroidery remnants, could no longer go unnoticed.

Eight months of sewing earned Sarah random requests for custom threads, and enough inventory to open her vintage clothing store, SilverThorne, named after her grandmother, Elizabeth SilverThorne, who taught Sarah the art of sewing.

SilverThorne is now open and carries what Sarah says is “finely curated men’s and women’s vintage clothing and shoes, with the largest selection of pre-1995 Doc Martens on the West Coast.”

Sarah’s vision is certainly her own.

She not only takes plain old dresses and alters them into something new, but also something unique, like the dresses in the old Madonna videos, perfect for a midnight masquerade. Or the long-sleeved flannel with patches sewn about its plaid, wherever the artist feels is best: Guns n’ Roses and Stephen King’s It patches are used to enhance the flannels, nothing uniform, or like any other item, just raw clothing for the artistic and proudly unusual.

“I’m obsessive when it comes to quality, true vintage, and designer labels, not reproduction.”

And the inventory’s authenticity doesn’t stop at dresses and flannels. The array of sunglasses range from the common rocker to punk rocker, to the fancy eyes of Elton John – bright colors and diamonds that properly represent the glam rocker’s eccentricity. The leopard coats, the high heels, the endless collection of variegated Doc Martens, sit amongst the mannequins scattered about the store, watching like a well-clad sentry. 

And this is her haven. This is the result of the horror Sarah overcame during the most traumatic experience of her life. She used her passion to conquer the fear of a man she once loved, a man who still remains free, with a court date still ahead. Sarah still keeps a journal of who she meets and what they look like and what they spoke about. But Sarah Reed Farmer did what some people never have the gall to do: she turned a brazen assault into something joyous, profitable, and productive. And she will always identify as a survivor, never a victim.

SilverThorne is located at 22 Anacapa Street, in between the Fishhouse and Divers Den, across the street from clothing and art studio, Loveworn. They are open Thursday through Sunday. The phone number is 805-452-4659.


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