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  • Writer's pictureKeira McGee

How is Keira Designs Sustainable?

Keira Designs strives to be as sustainable as possible. Using the most earth-friendly practices in my work has been and continues to be a learning process. I am by no means perfect, so it is unsurprising that my company is not as well. I do my best to make conscious choices every step of the way and honor my mission to provide clothing options that produce less waste and promote individuality. In an effort to grow, I am sharing my sustainable practices in the hopes of receiving feedback on ways to improve.

1. All of the one-of-a-kind pieces I create are made from second-hand clothing.

This means I run around to thrift stores, sort through racks of clothing, and purchase items in good condition to be reworked into new garments. Even my line of "Shreddy Betty" clothing is screen printed onto garments I purchased from a local T-shirt company that was going out of business. I am always looking for creative ways to sustainably source clothing.

2. All of the fabric I use is sustainable.

Most of my current fabric is "deadstock" fabric, which is discarded fabric from a designer that was never used. This fabric arrives in scraps, is in perfect condition, and is destined to go straight to a landfill without EVER BEING USED. By using this fabric in my clothing, I am helping to prolong its life and reduce fabric waste. The other fabric I own comes from local donations or I purchase it second-hand from local sellers. This fabric is typically the stuff people have sitting in their closets for years and have never used. Sometimes I even repurpose fabric from other items such as nylon from beach umbrellas and neoprene from discarded wetsuits!

3. I sell my products at local markets & stores.

I try my best to promote small and/or local businesses and believe it is incredibly important. I sell my products at local farmers markets, pop-up events, and even directly from my own garage. I am featured in local stores which means I can drive my clothing directly to the location where customers will shop, therefore eliminating shipping waste.

4. I strive for sustainable shipping.

I am not going to lie, I messed up when I first bought shipping supplies. After launching my website I realized I did not have large enough mailers to send out my garments and panic-ordered some bright pink poly mailers. While these mailers are adorable, they are NOT earth-conscious and I almost immediately regretted the decision. Since then, I have learned to pause before making a purchase (even if I'm stressed & rushing) and to consider all of my options. The next time I order poly mailers I plan to purchase from an eco-friendly brand and choose either a compostable mailer, or a mailer made from recycled materials (there are pros and cons to both).

Aside from the mailer slip up, my packaging consists of recycled brown tissue paper, sustainably sourced twine/string/ribbon, and a Keira Designs business card. It may be simple, but I believe it honors my company and mission the most.

5. I save my scraps.

As previously mentioned, I own A LOT of donated and sustainably sourced fabric. I use this fabric to create funky patchwork pieces or build brand new garments. When creating these new pieces there is often much discarded fabric, however, I try my best to save what is salvageable and rework these new scraps into future projects.

Some may call this hoarding...I try to think, "waste not, want not".

Photo by: Andy Putnam

6. I do it all myself.

Keira Designs is truly a one-woman show. I must mention I have the most AMAZING group of friends and family who support this company in many ways- from helping shuttle my clothing to pop-up markets, to purchasing and promoting my gear, or to simply sharing a drink with me after a stressful week. By operating this company on my own I am able to control all of the things I listed above and build the type of business I want to see in the world. All of the designing, troubleshooting, sewing, ironing, seam ripping, screaming, laughing, and pulling-out-of-hair is done by yours truly in my tiny studio (a.k.a. half of my bedroom). This may not be the most sustainable way of operating in the long run for my mental health, however, it means I am with each garment from the moment I begin designing it, until it reaches the final customer. It is a sweet and rewarding experience to be so connected to my work, and it truly does not (most of the time) feel like work.

photo by: Gretchen Beehler

It is challenging, but fun to work in this way. I am constantly choosing to work with the resources I have available, rather than ordering brand new unnecessary materials. Each donation of fabric or clothing is exciting to me, because it is a brand new project that always starts with the thought, "what the heck can I do with this stuff?".

I hope you stayed to tuned to see what I can do.

xx Keira

p.s. I am always looking for new ideas on how to become more sustainable! Please feel free to drop any ideas or questions in the comments below !

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