Matching, matching, matching. What goes together? What doesn’t? With at least a thousand squares of upholstery samples, the design studio can look pretty crazy sometimes as we work to take disparate colors, textures and fabric styles and create a cohesive whole.

Upcycled Upholstery Bag

But that’s a bit what the future of sustainable sewn goods production & design is going to look like. There’s so much fabric produced cheaply, so many textiles created with microplastics, so much water waste in cotton production, and so much fabric trash from discarded clothes, fashion deadstock and upholstery samples.

In order to cut down on pollution and waste, designers need to start innovating. We need more focus on working with what’s actually already available instead of just continually ordering more and more new fabrics.

Upholstery Samples Purse

We’re inspired by brands like Hyer Goods: “’The way the calendar was structured, we would order—I cannot even tell you how many colors and types of fabrics,’ she says. Many of those fabrics would be dropped before the design stage was even reached, rendering the entire order unusable.” (Source:

Consumers throw away shoes and clothing [versus recycle], an average of 70 pounds per person, annually. 

So back to the squares of color filling our design studio. We were donated at least a thousand upholstery sample squares. We’ve got a box full of burlap & plastic rice bags. We’ve got rolls of unused home decor fabrics. We’re using those to create patchwork pillows and, small crossbody belt bags. We’re experimenting with tote bags and carpet purses. Basically, we’re trying to take what’s unused and make it valuable.

But there’s more to it then that. As we take these unused textiles and transform them, we’re also creating jobs and opportunity for former refugee women in our community. We have a unique production model that combines skills training with income earning, in-studio sewing with home production. We have opportunities for American women to build friendships and learn from the stories and life experiences of our seamstresses. We create community.

We’re a really small scale sewn goods production company.  That allows us to innovate, learn and iterate. But there’s so much more to be done. We need more small fashion companies like us to invest in the goal of both creating opportunity AND implementing sustainable production methods. We need customers to be willing to invest in this type of product. And we need partnerships that leverage design, business acumen and community building in order to create lasting change. 

What are your favorite Made in the USA small & sustainable fashion brands? Share links in the comments section.

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    1. Persona Grata Staff says:

      That’s a great idea! So funny that you mention that now, because we’re currently designing some pillow layouts.

  1. Sandra Chappell says:

    I’ll look forward to seeing them on the website and hope some will coordinate with navy sofa.

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