When it came to following her head or her heart, the answer was around Margo Petitti’s neck.
Last year, the twenty-six-year-old left her Washington, D.C., government job as a horticulturist to pursue a master’s degree in Landscape Architecture at RISD. In the beginning of her second semester, she wandered into Marc Allen Clothiers, a Providence institution for men’s apparel. “I immediately fell in love with the swatch books of fabric samples Marc had in his shop,” says Petitti. “The cashmeres, the wools, the plaids were all so attractive to me.” Upon introducing herself to Allen and learning he
was about to discard several old sample books, she lobbied for the cast-offs. “And that became my first scarf.”
Petitti called upon her girlhood love of sewing to create patchwork scarves from the swatches as holiday gifts. Soon she received additional requests for her luxurious creations, and by the fall of 2009, her scarves were on Elle magazine’s website, winning fans such as celebrity stylist Robert Verdi. “The properties that I enjoy about plant science are also present in my scarf-making,” she says. “Texture, color, finish, sheen — all of these attributes draw me in.”
This spring, Petitti left her architecture studies to pursue scarf-making full-time. The timing may seem less than ideal for launching a new business, but Petitti is hopeful: “I’m scared, but excited. It’s good to be doing something I love.” See Petitti’s scarves at margopetitti.com.—JAMIE SAMONS