Last month, Becky Heck’s beloved business of 16 years, Luv Unlimited, was destroyed by smoke and water damage from a fire that broke out on the second floor of the building. Thankfully, no one was injured, however Heck – along with her partner in business, music and love, Sage Schwarm – lost nearly everything inside their quirky, gem-filled second-hand shop.
At the time of the fire, Heck and Schwarm had just wrapped up three months of remodeling and re-investing in the store during the mandatory shutdown due to COVID-19. Needless to say, it was a devastating loss for the couple – as well as for the community.
But Heck is pouring her creative energy that’s usually reserved for the shop into other projects through her label, Hex Designs, and her band, The Quilz, which also features Schwarm.
Through Hex Designs, Heck makes one-of-a-kind creations that are available on her Etsy site and include paintings, jewelry, clothing and customized dolls.
"As a doll customizer, I take a doll and remove any existing makeup, clothing, eyes and hair. I then start from scratch to carve, paint and make a new doll and personalize it with hand-made couture clothing, hair and make-up," says Heck.
Heck customizes Blythe dolls, a large-eyed fashion doll that was sold in the United States exclusively in 1972. She sells the customized dolls to collectors and / or photographs them in different self-created scenes which she later shares on Instagram.
"About 18 years ago I saw a photo of Blythe in a magazine, which led me to Gina Garan's book, ‘This Is Blythe.’ I became obsessed. The rest is history," says Heck, who is currently working on a photography book of her own.
The doll customization process takes hours of carving, sanding, painting, haircutting, styling, sewing and posing.
"I love seeing all of my creations come to life. I feel a bit like Dr. Frankenstein," says Heck.
Recently, Heck was commissioned to create a Debbie Harry doll. "I will study her hair, make-up and clothing and try to replicate her to the best of my ability," she says.
Despite the fire and pandemic, The Quilz have eeked out a productive summer, releasing their first full-length album of entirely original songs, "Fishing for Ketchup."
Their latest single, "Hello," is now available along with the dreamy, retro video.
"This song, and another song on the album called ‘Peace of Mind,’ are appropriate for these pandemic times," says Heck.
Check it all out here.
Currently, The Quilz – which solely includes Heck and Schwarm – are working on their next LP, "Beneath The Covers," a collection of all cover songs.
Heck grew up in the Sherman Park neighborhood and studied painting and graphic design at Milwaukee Area Technical College (MATC) and Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design (MIAD). She founded and co-owned the Hi-Fi Cafe with Schwarm prior to opening Luv Unlimited. Heck and Schwarm, recently engaged, have been together since Valentine’s Day 2000.
"We have a little French Bulldog named Birdie who’s often in my Insta feed," says Heck.
Heck says they do not have plans to reopen the shop at this time, but will continue to sell records online as well as focus on new projects both together and solo.
‘There’s a lot on the horizon," says Heck.
Molly Snyder started writing and publishing her work at the age 10, when her community newspaper printed her poem, "The Unicorn.” Since then, she's expanded beyond the subject of mythical creatures and written in many different mediums but, nearest and dearest to her heart, thousands of articles for OnMilwaukee.
Molly is a regular contributor to FOX6 News and numerous radio stations as well as the co-host of "Dandelions: A Podcast For Women.” She's received five Milwaukee Press Club Awards, served as the Pfister Narrator and is the Wisconsin State Fair’s Celebrity Cream Puff Eating Champion of 2019.