What began as Sophia Padua’s passion project turned into a flourish of acrylic paint, recycled denim and blossoming creativity.

In March, Padua launched Moontown Paints, a pop-up art business specializing in custom paint jobs on used clothing. Using a variety of acrylics, she’s amassed a colorful selection of original work on denim jackets and jeans. The content ranges from abstract designs to Coastside landmarks. The 22-year-old El Granada resident’s work also extends to installations in Half Moon Bay. She’s painted the horse in front of Lemos Farm several times and did a mural inside Raul Castillo’s Martial Arts School.

For Padua, who would have spent much of the past few months volunteering at local nonprofits were it not for the pandemic, it was important to give 15 percent of her revenue to nonprofits she and her customers find worthwhile. Together, she and her customers have contributed to Sea Hugger, Surfrider Foundation and World Resources. While the pandemic upended her junior year at the University of Oregon, the time at home allowed her to branch out into other sectors and continue to build Moontown Paints.

“I found this void in my life where I had normally spent so much time volunteering,” Padua said. “And I thought, ‘How can I still give back without putting myself or others at risk?’”

Padua’s interest in art began through classes at Farallone View Elementary School and continued at Fly On the Wall art camps in Half Moon Bay. With the support of an artistic and creative family, Padua grew to love the process.

She says Moontown Paints was founded on two key principles: sustainability and customization. Padua is conscientious about where the materials come from, saying she doesn’t want to take used clothing away from those who need it more. “I was really trying to get more into sustainable fashion and do it in a way that doesn’t exclude people,” she explained. “Thrifting is really trendy right now, but people have to remember that there are others who go thrifting for their well-being and not a lifestyle thing.”

Between balancing a full-time remote internship with this job, the last few months have been an exercise in time management for Padua. But amid buying supplies, staying organized, finding the right price points and marketing the business, Padua is still doing something she loves.

“It’s fun to have your own custom clothing,” she said. “Being able to express yourself in tiny ways, it’s fun to have your voice on something.”

To view her work or place an order, visit moontownpaints.com, or on Instagram at @moontownpaints.

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