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Passion for Sustainability Inspires Alum’s New Venture

Grace Brian

By Emma Delmontagne

Grace Brian graduated from the Wilson College of Textiles in May 2017 with a bachelor’s degree in Fashion and Textile Design. After studying abroad in Peru, she was inspired to connect cultures and bring together communities through artisan made goods. Strongly influenced by a  sustainability course she took at the college, she and co-founder Cait Payne started Care+Co Market to create “high-quality, stylish products that are intended to be used for a lifetime.” Their online shop launched on August 19.

Grace Brian and Cait Payne
Grace Brian and Cait Payne

Brian manages the creative side of their endeavor and communicates with vendors. She says, “I use the pattern making, sewing and technical skills I learned at NC State University to make patterns and samples to be made by our partners in Guatemala. [The Wilson College of Textiles] really well prepared me for everything I’ve needed so far!”

In addition to running her business, she is an advocate for conscious consumerism. She says, “Think about the entire lifecycle of the things you buy and consume. Everything has a life before and after it enters and leaves yours – keep that in mind.” By posing questions like “How was it made?” and “What will happen to it after you’re done with it?” we can all start to be smart textile consumers.

Grace Brian and Cait Payne
Grace Brian and Cait Payne

What inspired you to co-found Care+Co Market?
I studied abroad in Peru with the help of Dr. Lisa Chapman the summer before my junior year. That really opened my eyes to the beautiful textiles of South America. I was also really struck by the things I learned in my textile science classes; especially the cotton sustainability class about the amount of waste in the textile industry. I wanted to combine my ideals about consumerism with my love for beautiful handmade products.

What does it mean to be a “slow fashion advocate?”
I don’t shop at “fast fashion” stores; most of my clothes are handmade or second hand. When I do buy new, I make sure it’s an item I really love, make sure it’s good quality, and I check the content label (I NEVER buy rayon (viscose, modal) even if I love the item. It’s a terrible fiber, and terrible for the environment. I also make sure that the things I buy are versatile or plain enough for me to wear often, with a variety of different outfits and will last a long time. I try to avoid current “fashions” and look more towards a classic “style.” I believe there is a difference between those two words.

What is your favorite part about the textile industry?
What I like about the textile industry is all the family heritage you see. Because of this you will find many companies that truly care because it goes back for generations. I like what people are trying to do to make things more sustainable.