It only takes a few laps around downtown Durham to notice the city’s local-first culture. Its once-empty tobacco facilities upcycled into mixed use complexes and tech hubs evoke the same energy coming out of the city decades ago when it was a hub for manufacturing as well as successful black-owned businesses.
A collective readiness to support and grow local businesses blends well with the city’s historical loyalty to resourcefulness and sustainability. Consumer goods creators and designers are catching on to that trend, launching a new market of eco-friendly products for Durhamites and others.
A sampling of that trend is represented by a group of women who showcased their products at a recent pop-up event hosted by Liberation Threads, a Durham boutique committed to making fashion ethical by only stocking fair trade or U.S.-made clothing.
Read about the makers below and scroll through a set of photos to see their products on display. All photos were taken by photographer Maria Brubeck.
Reid Miller, a bike commuter, created this clothing company out of frustration over the lack of low-maintenance, yet stylish clothing for active women like herself. Using high-quality, durable material that moves naturally with the wearer’s daily activities, her clothing line is meant for people with an active lifestyle. The clothing styles are classic yet timeless, made from eco-friendly material that requires little maintenance.
This line of handmade, small-batch liquid soaps and cleaners are made with vegan, synthetic free organic and essential oils. Fillaree is driven by a goal to reduce plastic waste—soaps are packaged in containers that are designed to be refilled. Fillaree founder Alyssa Cherry provides refill services at local farmer’s markets and at two refill stations in Durham to make it easier for customers to reuse the soap bottles instead of tossing them.
Durham Originals sells t-shirts, accessories and artistic items that celebrate the city’s community of creators. They collaborate with other organizations committed to sustainable merchandise, ethical and transparent supply chains, conserving Durham’s history through art and design.
River Takada-Capel makes handmade jewelry and clothing from materials found at thrift stores, yard sales, flea markets and clothing swaps. She also sources recycled material from Spoonflower, a digital textile printing company based in Durham. Her items are sold at four shops in Durham, Chapel Hill, Greensboro and Brooklyn, New York under the brand Rivtak. She also teaches adult and children’s classes at The ArtsCenter in Carrboro and Durham’s Scrap Exchange.
Combining local flowers and bird and bee-friendly design components, artist, designer and gardener Lee Moore Crawford makes and sells bouquets, art pieces and scarves (available on Etsy), while also providing seasonal event design services to clients.
Through a reusable/returnable takeout container service, a sustainable food truck program, a collection of waste reduction resources and a fiscal sponsorship from Keep Durham Beautiful, Don’t Waste Durham is helping the city and its dwellers create a cleaner environment in their communities—raising awareness about the importance of reducing consumer waste at the same time.