Vendor Spotlight: Ethel Studio
“Vendor Spotlights” are a recurring blog theme, where we highlight different artists and businesses who will be attending Lightfoot Market, focusing on their background, connection to sustainability, and what products they will be bringing.
One-of-a-kind home textiles.
What are your environmental / social initiatives?
We rescue fabrics from an unsuitable fate of going to landfill and slowly transform them by hand into compelling textile mosaics for your home to embrace everyday. Our mission is to enhance our customers' living spaces with thoughtful, colorful, and compelling pieces-- while at the same time striving to put an end to textile waste. All of our pieces are made in our zero-waste Brooklyn studio-- we have a purpose for even our smallest of fabric scraps.
When and why did you start your business?
I started my business officially this year. I've been creating my "textile mosaics" for a few years and am now sharing them with the world. I believe that our surroundings can have a major impact on us, and I seek to fill my clients' homes with unique pieces that bring them joy and a sense of calm. This desire also coincides with me being obsessed with putting an end to textile industry waste. What better way to help improve clients' homes than with locally-made pieces that are doing their part to help eliminate and prevent waste?
What does sustainability mean to you?
Sustainability is everything to me-- it is central to my work because it is what I believe in the most and what keeps we awake at night. The extent of textile industry waste is mind-blowing. Millions of tons of textile products are being dumped into landfills each year, while demand for new cheap textiles is only increasing. Not to mention all the energy & water usage, green house gas emissions, pollution, and major social implications directly involved in textile manufacturing. I strive to counteract all this negative impact by only using rescued fabrics and by wasting none of my materials. There are so many high-quality fabrics out there looking for a beautiful purpose! My business and its positive impact is relatively small, but I want to inspire other makers and artists to join in and do the same.
What were some of the challenges you faced incorporating sustainability into your business?
Using rescued fabrics and functioning as a zero-waste operation was central to my business concept from the beginning, but it has not gone without its challenges. There is a lot more labor involved in creating our textiles because it involves small pieces of fabrics. Often the fabrics are in garment form when we rescue them, so we have to deconstruct them before using their fabric. We've come up with efficient processes, but our pieces will always be "slow textiles"!
Also, we use all of our tiniest leftover scraps, fibers, and threads-- finding creative uses for these is always an ongoing challenge, but we have fun with it. You will see these put to work in future Ethel Studio products coming soon!
What is one thing readers can do to lighten their footprint?
Buy an Ethel Studio pillow. Or two!
Also never throw away any clothing or textiles. Instead donate them to NYC's textile recycling program (or to another program or organization of choice). We can lighten our footprint by not buying new and by taking responsibility for how and where we discard our clothing and textiles.