Beth Nielsen, Creative, Small Business Owner
Beth Nielsen is the founder of Vintage Creations: Recycled Cashmere, a site featuring one of a kind - you guessed it- recycled cashmere. Basically, she is a superhero providing us luxury products with a sustainable twist. We are excited to feature Beth not only because it was just SBS, but also because she is our first Seattle native, but definitely not our last. Read along and fall in love with this talented designer. One more reason to really love her, use code 'cashmere16' for 15% off her creations. They make a perfect holiday gift!
First, tell us about what you do?
I source used cashmere, in good condition, and recycle it into new pieces. I create beanies, headbands, scarves, cardigans, and many other wearable pieces. I hand dye everything, so each piece is unique!
What made you want to study fashion or did you study fashion?
I didn’t actually go to school for fashion! I graduated college with a business degree, and worked in Human Resources for various large corporations in the Seattle area.
So why did you make the career change?
I wasn’t happy in Corporate America. I was just over it. I had a corporate meltdown. I was tired of laying people off. The only part I enjoyed about my job was being able to teach people, but I ultimately wasn’t happy with what I was doing.
How did you end up building your own business?
I learned a lot from my Mom. She taught me sewing and knitting- I actually remember hating it when I was growing up.
I have three kids, so I started out making kids clothing out of recycled fabrics. Then my kids grew up and I decided I was more interested in Women’s fashion. I wanted to make sweaters, and originally was trying to source wool- but then found out I was allergic to wool, so I went with cashmere. I like the hand feel better anyways. I have a studio, and a space in Pikes Place Market where I sell my pieces. I love hand dyeing each of my garments- It makes each piece special and unique.
What inspires you and your designs/ what is your aesthetic?
I am inspired by artists. I love visiting the Seattle Art Museum and finding inspiration. I also love looking at other designers- Rick Owens and Norma Kamali are a couple of my favorites!
How do you balance work life with home life?
I was actually never good at ‘unplugging’. I have three kids but they all moved out this year. I do make a schedule for myself. The challenging thing about being an independent and local designer is that you are constantly working. There isn’t really a day off.
Where do you see your brand/business in ten years/what are your plans?
I am hoping to focus more on my Bamboo line that I launched a couple years ago. Well kept cashmere is hard to find at reasonable prices- and I love organic, sustainable fabrics so I am keeping the same message, but using a different fabric. I am going to be continuing to develop knits, and I will still be hand dyeing everything.
What kind of advice would you give to your younger self?
I would have told myself to not get into debt! Whenever you are launching your first business- try to do it as cheaply as possible. Also, I think it is important when you are developing a clothing brand, to really focus on one to two pieces- get them perfect- then expand to four or five. It is better to have well made pieces than just a bunch of items that are “OK”.
Can you leave the readers off with how to connect your brand to social and economic problem solving?
Well my entire line is recycled, so there’s one! I also donate to an event called Behind the Table at the Market. It is an auction that helps support Pikes Place Market, and the people who live and work there.
**Proceeds from this event will directly benefit The Market Community Safety Net, a fund that can provide financial assistance to anyone working or living in Pike Place Market when in a time of great need**
Intro by Emily, Interviewed by Kayla (Seattle Ambassador)
See more of Kayla's work here .