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Honors and Awards

Lonny Carter ’08, ’19, ’22 Wins a 2024 Distinguished Young Alumni Award

In honor of her professional achievements, life-saving research and alignment with the college's core values, Lonny Carter was named a recipient of the Wilson College of Textiles 2024 Distinguished Young Alumni Award.

Lonny Carter

With a natural penchant for compassion and problem-solving, Lonny Carter is contributing to the critical safety of an often forgotten population within the American textile industry: incarcerated individuals. 

The life-saving, patented LifeLine® Crossback Smock that Carter, a three-time graduate of the Wilson College of Textiles, designed reduces the chance of self-harm by removing the Velcro that is typically used in smock in correctional facilities. Currently, her invention is being used in more than 200 correctional and mental health facilities across the United States. 

She proudly credits her alma mater for putting her on the path to reach new heights.  

“I never imagined my education would lead me to develop clothing for the incarcerated population, let alone a textile product that could save lives. The Wilson College of Textiles has empowered me to serve an underrepresented population through applying my knowledge to solve a real-life problem.”

— Lonny Carter ’08, ’19, ’22

Today, Carter combines her love for teaching with her research expertise as a teaching assistant professor in the college’s Textile and Apparel, Technology and Management Department

In recognition of her professional achievements, life-changing research, and alignment with the college’s core values, Carter was named the recipient of the Wilson College of Textiles 2024 Distinguished Young Alumni Award. 

Established by the Dean’s Young Alumni Leadership Council (DYALC) in 2021, the Distinguished Young Alumni Awards program recognizes graduates under the age of 40 who have made significant contributions to the textile industry and their communities. The DYALC works to promote the Wilson College of Textiles and the college’s fundraising arm, the North Carolina Textile Foundation, and foster engagement among young alumni.

Finding her fit at the Wilson College and beyond

Carter’s journey to NC State, which began in 2005 after transferring from another university, was much smoother than she’d expected. 

Her decision to join Phi Psi, a co-ed textiles fraternity that encourages strong character, integrity, and high standards of work and fellowship, quickly introduced her to a supportive community of like-minded friends.

Lonny Carter poses with friends at the Carter B. Finley Stadium.
Lonny Carter (center) cheers on the NC State Wolfpack alongside her friends at the Carter B. Finley Stadium.

“We all had this common thread,” Carter says. “And that made my time at the Wilson College of Textiles feel like home.”

After graduating with a bachelor’s degree in fashion and textile management in 2008, she entered the workforce as an assistant buyer for Stage Stores, a Southeastern-based department store chain. She went on to become an associate buyer and then a buyer for the company before she began as a buyer at Variety Wholesalers, Inc. which owns more than 380 retail stores under the Roses and Maxway banners. In 2016, she transitioned into product management and development for Advanced Sports Enterprises, an online cycling retailer. 

Carter continued her career in product management and development at the Bob Barker Company, where her repertoire extended to include the corrections industry, specifically in clothing, linens and suicide-prevention textiles for incarcerated individuals. 

“When I walked into my product manager role at the Bob Barker Company, I was immediately considered the textile expert because of my education through the Wilson College of Textiles. The Wilson College exposed me to the technical side of clothing and taught me to look for ways to increase clothing functionality, regardless of the industry.”

— Lonny Carter ’08, ’19, ’22

Her work at the Bob Barker Company encouraged her to dive deeper into her product research for incarcerated individuals by furthering her education. Carter’s search for a graduate program began and ended quite quickly. 

“I knew there was no other place I’d rather go than the Wilson College of Textiles.” 

During her graduate program, she was introduced to the woman who would soon become her greatest mentor: Professor Emerita Maureen Grasso

Grasso encouraged Carter to follow her dreams of becoming a professor. During her last semester as a Ph.D. candidate, Carter was recommended by Grasso to teach the FTM 400: Major Fashion Designers course. Through that experience, Carter discovered her passion for teaching. Since earning her Master of Textiles degree in 2019 and her doctoral degree in textile technology management in 2022, Carter has served as a faculty member at a variety of institutions, including Meredith College and Campbell University Lundy-Fetterman School of Business. 

Today, she proudly guides the futures of the next generation of textile leaders by sharing her expertise as an assistant teaching professor at her alma mater.

From concept to impact: the birth of Carter’s Crossback Smock

With support from the Wilson College of Textiles, Carter’s life-saving research tirelessly continues.

“There are over 2 million incarcerated individuals in the United States today,” Carter explains. “When you think about transitioning from a free society into an institutionalized environment of jail or prison, it is pretty shocking. Research shows us that incarcerated individuals are two times more likely to harm themselves through suicide than the average person in free society.”

The garments that incarcerated individuals wear were created primarily with modesty and accommodation in mind, but that left much to be desired. 

The inclusion of 37 strips of velcro enabled these garments to accommodate incarcerated people of various weights and heights. Although the velcro was a practical closure mechanism for this type of garment, it created safety and sustainability concerns. 

“Velcro could be removed from the smock, formed into a ligature, and used as a weapon,” she shares. “Additionally, lint and hair could find its way into the Velcro, eliminating the ability for closure which makes the $200 garment less likely to be reused after two or three wears.” 

With this in mind, Carter created the Crossback Smock: a one-piece velcro-less smock with adjustable shoulders to accommodate for various body types. 

“I knew there had to be a safer and more sustainable way to accommodate this population, so I visited over 100 facilities to interview current customers and incarcerated people,” she says. “Three years and countless prototypes later, the patented Crossback Smock was born.”

Carter’s life-saving work has been widely recognized, and in 2021, her innovative Crossback Smock was patented. 

“Prior to my bachelor’s degree, I thought of clothing as a vehicle for self-expression and society-required modesty,” she says. “My time at the Wilson College, which continues today, has taught me that our industry impacts so many areas within our society. I’m proud to stand at the forefront alongside the talented students, faculty and staff in our college.”