From boats to bags: McHenry man taps into the designer within
He makes his living as an upholsterer, working mostly on boat seats and covers. But 37-year-old McHenry resident Mark Freels always had a flair for fashion.
Last year, just for fun, Freels sewed together some leather scraps he had laying around and created a purse. His ex-wife saw it and loved it, so he let her keep it. When her friends saw it, they wanted purses, too. And soon, the Rhema Marx leather goods line was born.
In December, Freels combined forces with his friend, marketing expert Tammy Marchetta of Lake Villa, to launch Rhema (pronounced ray-ma) Marx.
Using recycled leather scraps, Freels creates edgy, one-of-a-kind pieces. The line now features more than 30 purses, wristbands, belts and men's cuffs, and is already drawing attention from local designers. A few of the bags were featured at Kathryn Kerrigan's recent warehouse sale in Gurnee.
"I can't believe how much interest there's been in this already, but it's great," Freels said. "I don't know anything about fashion, but I know what looks good on women."
The line's official debut will take place at 7 p.m. March 12 at a fashion show at the Lake House Restaurant, 850 Tower Drive, in Lake Villa. A portion of the proceeds will be donated to two Lake County women's charities, Home of the Sparrow and the Zacharias Center. Admission is free and prizes will be raffled off.
Rhema Marx items are sold at rhemamarx.com.