Somewhere over the rainbow

Bluebirds fly

And the dream that you dare to,

Oh why, oh why, can’t I?

– Judy Garland, “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” (1939)
Judy Garland posed an enduring human question when she sang these lyrics at the beginning of the “Wizard of Oz” in 1939. It’s the same question I asked myself when I was faced with heading in the direction that represented both my ultimate dream and my greatest fear. 

One morning, about nine months ago, I woke up and realized that life is short.  Seems obvious, doesn’t it? And, yet, I was acting as if I had eons upon eons to realize my vision for my life, and for the world, in general.  I was procrastinating. The clock was ticking. Tick, tick, tick.

For years, I was focused on stemming the tide of ‘fast fashion,’ and its inherent pollution and waste. In 2014, I launched my own upcycled clothing business, belle + eco, where I carefully selected gently-used and vintage pieces of clothing and repurposed these fine fabrics into new wearable styles for women.  It was a labor of love, as each item took days to design, sew, package and sell at local and regional markets. I relished connecting with my customers and creating gorgeous, lasting pieces for them.

As time marched on, however, I ran out of steam.  I was a one-woman show tasked with creating a custom item from start to finish.  The product itself was eco-friendly, but the pace was not doable in the long run.  The irony? I had a sustainable brand that wasn’t sustainable for me.  Pretty tragic, I know. But, mostly it just represented a pattern that had reared its ugly head way too times before in my life.  Start up, burn out. I knew that nothing would fundamentally change unless I headed in a different direction.  As I sat there on my bed, I took stock of what lay before me.

Fortunately, the fashion landscape had changed since 2014.  It now offered more viable ethical and sustainable options for sourcing fabrics, for producing garments and for “greening” the fashion supply chain. This meant that I could design my pieces and run the business, but nearly everything else could be left to professionals.  And, most significantly, all of my products would still be made in the U.S.  

At the same time, I still felt strongly that our world needs beautiful, timeless and versatile design to inspire us and to move our thinking forward. One could argue that we need to be inspired and uplifted more than ever.  With these motivations in mind, I decided to launch a new fashion brand that equally celebrates sustainability and high style. 

Thus, KAUTE was born!
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