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Your next must-know eco fashion brand Grind and Glaze tells a thousand stories of the designer's upbringing in rural Ohio. We took an insight into Tessa Clark's vision connecting masculine 'grind' and feminine 'glaze' in every single responsibly made piece. Their minimal, yet aesthetically impressive debut collection simply makes a sustainable masterpiece, and we can't wait to hear what more the brand has on hold.
What does Grind and Glaze stand for? What informed the inception of your brand?
Grind and Glaze was originally created for my thesis project as an ode to my parents and my upbringing in rural Ohio. My father is a miller and my mother is a potter. Grind for grain, Glaze for ceramics, a combination of raw and refined elements and aesthetics. I grew up in a creative environment and was a part of their business and entrepreneurial ventures. They inspired me from a young age to be an entrepreneur as well. It was in my blood.
What are the key sustainability principles you follow?
My goal is to remain ethically grounded while creating garments that are elevated, but inspired by casual-wear. As my brand grows, my goal is to keep all production fair-waged and to remain aware of the working conditions my clothes are being produced in. I also use only organic cotton and other eco-friendly textiles, such as hemp, silk, recycled polyester (made from plastic bottles), and tencel. I also try to use as much of the fabric as possible. For example, I found that one of my designs was creating a lot of fabric waste, so I re-patterned the top and now it doesn't waste as much fabric. The fabric that is left over, I use for my neck-cuff designs.
What inspired your first collection? Are there any restrictions that make producing ethically difficult?
All of my collections and designs refer back to my original inspiration and grounding aesthetics for Grind and Glaze. Grind: grain, rough, raw, masculine, natural. Glaze: refined, glossy, feminine, minimal.
My goal with everything I design is that I want it to be timeless, ageless, wearable, and eco-conscious. Right now because my production is so small, it is not difficult to produce ethically. If I keep production in the USA, I will be able to visit the factory, and make sure proper labor laws are being followed. I refuse to sacrifice price for what is morally right.
Why is ethical thinking important for you personally and on a wider global scale?
On a personal level, I find it empowering to be aware of where my clothes come from and to choose where my money is going. Fast fashion was created for corporations to make money by pressuring consumers into thinking they have to have every trendy article of clothing out there. A lot of these garments are made in countries with loose environmental regulations and labor laws, in turn allowing the garments to be produced and sold cheaply. After learning about these processes, I made the decision to make more conscious purchases. Quality over quantity.
Fashion is a huge industry. And it’s the second pollutant behind oil in the world (ref. The True Cost movie). A lot of what is being produced and sold is harmful to the environment. Sustainability and ethical thinking should be at the forefront of everyone’s agenda in the industry.
What's your relationship with today's speed culture that encourages us to bombard others with our digital presence, constantly share photos, and forget the actual meaning instantly? Have you ever thought about embracing a slower lifestyle?
I'm guilty of being sucked into the speed culture, as I'm sure a lot of Instagram and Facebook users are. I’ve been trying to view Instagram as a visual archive for myself and my brand. I follow a lot of fashion and design accounts and screenshot what I find inspirational. I'm trying to view it as an interactive, in-flux moodboard. I've thought about embracing a slower lifestyle and I've tried to create that opportunity for myself by recently moving to Hawai’i. I decided that moving to a big city and working for a corporation was not where I would find my happiness. I very much desire a slower paced lifestyle. I may need my big city fix sometimes, but like all things, it's about balance.
Do you feel that today's digital culture has made it harder/easier to reach your audience?
Easier! Social Media platforms are amazing for reaching an audience worldwide! It's free marketing.
What are your plans with Grind and Glaze going forward?
I'm planning my e-commerce presence currently. I’d love to be stocked in more boutiques and my dream is to open my own concept brick and mortar store or workshop, and in some way incorporating education of the industry to aspiring designers and those interested in learning more about fashion, design, and textiles.
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