We chat with the designer behind a new, locally-based, eco-friendly clothing line that’s blending the worlds of sustainability and luxury.
Entrepreneur and designer, Tessa Clark, started her fashion career at the University of Cincinnati in the DAAP (Design, Architecture, Art and Planning) program, but she didn’t always know that was fashion was her calling.
Clark started attending DAAP in 2009, starting out studying fine arts and then switching to graphic communication design before settling on a fashion major. She just recently graduated in 2016, where she also began her brand, Grind & Glaze.
“My brand is an extension of my thesis collection, which is featured as collection one on my website. My second collection was created to beta test the local market, which went well,” explains Clark.
Clark’s next collection, Autumn/Winter 2018, will be available for purchase online later this summer.
“At its core, the inspiration behind Grind & Glaze is closely tied to its name, as well as my personal upbringing,” says Clark.
Clark grew up in rural Ohio, right next to a historic, water-powered stone-grinding mill, and her father was the miller. Clark’s mother is a self-taught ceramicist and her studio is on the first floor of Clark’s childhood home.
“My upbringing wasn’t the norm, so it provided me with a lifetime of inspiration to pull from. I often think back to where I grew up and describe it as magical. Everyday I lived in my own universe and playground,” Clark says.
The name Grind & Glaze as well as many of her designs are inspired by Clark’s childhood.
“Grind refers to the grinding of grain, and has all evolved into the raw, unrefined, rough, masculine elements of my designs,” Clark explains. “Glaze refers to glazing of ceramics, and has evolved into the glossy, feminine, elevated elements of my designs.”
The DAAP program taught Clark a lot through her years of studying and her internships. She interned for two luxury brands, two smaller brands, and one corporate brand.
“I learned most of what I know about the industry through these internships. Everything from textiles, finishing techniques, pattern making, communication with factories, PR, to learning that working corporate was not for me,” Clark says.
It is also extremely important to Clark that her brand stays sustainable and eco-friendly.
“One of my passions is to educate consumers –that’s everyone– about this topic. The textile industry is the second largest pollutant in the world, after oil. That is largely due to the fast fashion industry. Most consumers are not educated on the destruction that the fast fashion industry has on earth,” she says.
As a designer, Clark aims to never contribute to the destruction and low ethical standards in some of the fashion industry. She does not use any synthetic material unless it is recycled. All Grind & Glaze products are currently made in Cincinnati, and in the future they will only be produced in factories with regulated standards of safety and made by people who receive fair wages.
“I want to create garments that make women feel confident in, and I want to continue educating people on the importance of buying eco-friendly and sustainable products,” Clark says, “Other than that, a big draw to being an entrepreneur is the fact that I work for myself and have the ability to create my own stories and universes for women to ‘live’ in.”