by ECW Correspondent Meghan Hall
Emma Bickford, a 19-year-old college student, finds herself lamenting the decline of interest in history, especially among her peers. Instead of watching the trend continue, Bickford decided to step up. She’s making an effort to tie young people back to the roots that formed the world they live in. By creating a business that meshes historical lessons with fashion—aimed specifically at women her own age—Bickford is attempting to advocate for a resurgence of interest in history.
Bickford, who attends St. Anselm’s College in Goffstown, NH, creates historically-inspired scrunchies, which are thick, stylish hair ties that have recently come back into style among young crowds after massive popularity in the 1980s. Each of Bickford’s scrunchie designs has a specific name, but the accessories can be purchased in sets, with each set representing a particular person, historical event, time period or place.
Bickford’s small business is named Timeline Ties. “I picked ‘Timeline Ties’ because my hope is that my hair ties can help tie people to different time periods,” said Bickford, who is a history and marketing major.
Bickford said that, because of her varying interests, starting Timeline Ties proved an ideal way to combine the skills she is learning at St. Anselm’s. With hopes to become a museum director, Bickford feels it’s integral to protect historical sites and educate the public on history. That’s why she decided to donate 10% of the profit she makes off each sale to the National Trust for Historic Preservation.
“I chose National Trust because they often talk about on their website and in their magazine about how historic places unite our sense of global identity and they help preserve culture for different generations,” said Bickford. “I feel like historic preservation is great because going to see historic places really helps us see and hear the people that were of that time period, and it’s a physical connection that we still have to them.”
The National Trust for Historic Preservation is an organization that uses funds to care for historical sites and maintain their prominence. The National Trust also provides information on countless historical sites, spotlights special projects occurring at some of those sites, and creates interactive web content for their users.
Bickford’s operates her business on Instagram and Facebook. “Instagram was easy for me to come out with different layouts and really just showcase the scrunchies,” said Bickford. “It was easy to connect with people that were younger through that platform. I’m hoping to continue to grow the Instagram page right now and maybe someday open up a website for [Timeline Ties].”
Timeline Ties’ handle on Instagram is @timelineties, and the Facebook page is Timeline Ties. Customers message Bickford on these platforms, or message her via email at firstname.lastname@example.org, to place orders.
Bickford has created sets representative of Greek history, Henry VIII and other iconic historical people and moments. Her newest two sets of scrunchies, though, are inspired by the Civil War. The sets, which represent the Gettysburg Address and the role of women in the Civil War, were released on June 26.
Though 10% of Bickford’s profits are typically donated to the National Trust for Historic Preservation, Bickford will donate 10% of the profits for these particular sets to the American Battlefield Trust, which is an organization dedicated to Civil War education, preservation and inspiration.
The accessories can be purchased in sets of three for $10 or individually for $4.
“I’m really excited to [donate to the American Battlefield Trust] because I feel like trying to [highlight] different time periods is important, especially the Civil War right now, because there have been issues with people defacing statues and things like that,” Bickford said.
Bickford said she would consider doing more donation-specific projects moving forward, as well.
Bickford hand-selects all of the fabric she uses for her scrunchies. “I will usually just pick a person or a time period that I’m interested in and then I’ll try to think about a cliché about that or something that looks like a fabric from the time period that I think would resemble it. I usually try to put three [scrunchies] together [in a set] to tell a story,” explained Bickford.
From there, Bickford strings elastic through the fabric and sews the scrunchies together, one at a time.
When creating her “Women of the Civil War” set, Bickford said she sought out fabrics she had similar to the ones she had seen used for Civil War dresses and womenswear; the scrunchies are floral printed with solid colored backgrounds.
She named each individual scrunchie after three quintessential Civil War women: Dorothea Dix, who served as a Superintendent of Army Nurses; Clara Barton, the nurse who founded the American Red Cross; and Sarah Edmunds, who dressed as a man so she could fight in the war as a soldier.
“I really wanted to do something that represented women in the Civil War, because I feel like the Civil War really allowed women to start becoming more involved through nursing and things like that,” said Bickford.
For her “Gettysburg Address” set, Bickford named the scrunchies “the Lincoln,” “the Gettysburg,” and “the Speech.”
“I found fabric that resembled a written document, or parchment, to represent the speech. Then I just picked different American fabrics that looked a little more old-fashioned to pair with that one,” said Bickford.
Bickford hopes that her pieces will not only help organizations like the American Battlefield Trust and the National Trust for Historic Preservation further their integral work, but will also support a renewed interest in history among young people.
“I thought that making scrunchies with fabrics that were inspired by historic places or time periods would help people to be able to become more interested in history,” said Bickford.