Textile Artist Loses Everything in Sonoma County Fires, Crafts a New Future

Luke Fraser lost everything in the October fires, but thanks to help from many sources he’s back at work and inspired to succeed.

Textile artist Luke Fraser lost everything in the October fires, but thanks to help from many sources he’s back at work and inspired to succeed.

Luke Fraser was a mad scientist up on the mountain, turning thrift store overalls and camo jackets and old patches and yards upon yards of fabric into fashion he sold online.

“I didn’t like wearing the clothing that some corporation made overseas,” he says. “I always thought there should be a better way to represent your team.”

Using a room in his brother’s Glen Ellen home as a workshop, Fraser stitched together unique clothing and apparel for Bay Area sports fans: not merchandise but unofficial, unlicensed, wearable art, which he sold at street airs and festivals, playoff games, and flea markets throughout the region.

Then came the October fire. His whole neighborhood was destroyed.

Fraser lost everything; he escaped with nothing. “It was kind of a punch in the gut, for a ton of people, as you know,” says Fraser, 34. “That was so devastating and vicious, and just came out of nowhere.”

He found his way to FEMA’s disaster-assistance hub at The Press Democrat building, where he received not only housing in the form of a trailer at the fairgrounds, but also generous financial assistance from a range of sources: Santa Rosa-based Buddhist Tzu Chi Foundation, Redwood Credit Union, Creative Sonoma, the Sonoma Valley and Santa Rosa Sunrise Rotary Clubs, the Red Cross, and FEMA.

For now he’s still at the fairgrounds, but plotting a path forward: building up his stock, working on new designs, developing his online presence under the Bart Bridge label, applying for a small-business loan. “Because of the help I received from different agencies and organizations in Sonoma, I was able to do that. Otherwise I would not have been able to get back on my feet,” Fraser says. “I think it’s going to be a really good year.”

Editor’s Note: Travel, dining and wine tasting can be complicated right now. Use our inspirational ideas to plan ahead for your next outing, be it this week or next year. If you visit restaurants, wineries, and other businesses during the pandemic, remember to call ahead, make reservations, wear a mask and social distance.

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