In the theme for Fashion Revolution Week, (happening April 18-24th 2022) I want to convey my journey and perspective of “waste” in the fashion space, from my early beginnings.
Camas Lilly Co. has roots in sustainability. This makes for a great tag line, and it’s also true to my core.
Hi, I’m Sarah. The maker, designer, photographer, customer support and all things Camas Lilly Co. I want to share with you a little about my history of going against the status quo and finding my reasons to dream for a greener future.
It all started back in my childhood home town of Camas, WA. North of Portland, it’s a small paper making town that smells of sweet *cough* sulfur the moment you cross the bridge. My home was nestled in the back country on county lines. Surrounded my magnificent evergreens and winding roads.
Growing up I was surrounded by fabric bundles and fresh flowers (funny enough, I still am today). My mother had a craft den where she would sew my dresses and jumpsuits. While, also running a successful floral design business from our garage called “The Floral Renaissance”.
I could often be found in two places. My moms sewing room, digging through piles of fabric and learning how to sew from her scraps, or outside exploring nature with my dad and our pack of dogs.
Not only would I dig through my mothers cutting scraps, I also saw opportunity with her leftover flowers. Typically, after a wedding she would have buckets of excess flowers and greenery that didn’t make it in the initial designs. I would drag these buckets through gravel to the side of the road, post up my sign reading “Sarah’s Flowers” and wait for neighbors to stop by. Living on the mountain, I didn’t let the limited traffic discourage me. I would wait patiently to hear a car coming around the bend. Rushing and jumping with my sign to bring attention to my little shop.
The Summer of 2003, my mom and I moved down to Long Beach, CA. I was familiar with the area from visiting throughout my life, but I didn’t have any acquaintances my age. So, I found friendship within thrift stores. Digging through racks of moth ball smelling clothes, pulling anything that caught my eye. I never felt limited by purchasing garments that were “too big”, because I found opportunity in the the materials.
Fun fact: one of my very first upcycled items was a XXL Beastie Boy shirt that I cut and sewed into a crop tube top.
Being a thrift kid, became part of my identity ( and still is!). My senior year I entered into the talent show. Showcasing outfits made from upcycled t-shirts. My first fashion show! I was very proud the share my designs and eco-friendly efforts. But, as cliche high school experiences can be, the winner of the talent show was a cheerleader.
Upcycling thrifted finds led to side hustles through my late teens and early 20’s. Showcasing my earliest brand ‘Sew by Sew’ (which is now a sustainable textile sourcing company, owned by yours truly) at warehouse parties in the LA electronic dance scene. Then growing into my next project Shred Threads. Featuring 90s inspired silhouettes and prints. Made entirely from upcycled and Deadstock fabrics.
Next to side hustles, there’s always a “day job”. In 2013, I started mine. Working for one of the toughest, no BS , Brooklyn raised textile Jobbers in Los Angeles. Now, a “Jobber” is a fashion industry term for a business that buys and sells leftover fabric from brands, mills and contractors. These leftover fabrics are known as *drumroll please, with jazz hands* Deadstock fabrics!
Hands down one of my favorite day jobs. Running around a big 4 story, dirty warehouse with fabric pallets towering the halls. Helping designers ranging from Etsy makers, fabric stores, brands I admired and even the silver screen! *This was my 9-5 for almost 9 years. In 2021 I took the leap to go full time into Camas Lilly Co.
In 2016 I was commissioned to make custom Getting Ready robes for a friend of a friend. Working together with the bride Heron, she expressed how she wanted each robe fabric to be different. Bringing home fabrics, cutting and sewing in my apartment I remember thinking how this is a good idea, and left it at that. In 2018, to my complete surprise this bride was featured in Green Wedding Shoes. Tagging my original Etsy shop Shred Threads, I became bombarded by brides. Whipping up an Instagram account and PayPal I started taking orders for my new brand Camas Lilly Co. and first original robe ‘Heron’. Names that honored my roots and paid homage to my first client.
Now, in 2022 I full time camas Lilly Co. I have the opportunity to create beautiful garments from upcycled materials, share my passion of sustainability while being immersed in the wedding industry. My roots are exposed, and my passions are aligned. Thank you for following along the journey and adventure of Camas Lilly Co. I'm looking forward to continue my journey of rethinking "waste", and creating beautiful garments for you and your favorite babes.