Three designers weave sustainability into their on-trend wares.
Kimberly McKinley, Founder of Kiki Lynn
The idea for Kiki Lynn was born when owner and creative director Kimberly McKinley set out to find the perfect shirtdress—and found herself disappointed.
“I spent 15 years in the fashion industry, and in all that time I never saw the silhouette I was looking for—a classic shirtdress that wasn’t too short but was still feminine and flattering,”McKinley explained.
So she set out to create one, enlisting the help of a design team to find the perfect balance. Kiki Lynn’s signature dress is beautiful and comfortable, with pockets and removable belt. Best of all, Kiki Lynn garments are created entirely in the United States, using primarily American-made materials. The company is headquartered in D.C., which is very close of McKinley’s heart.
“First and foremost, I feel it’s important to support economic development in smaller, local communities. It’s also easier to ensure that my garments are higher quality when the people who make them are in the same city, so the consumer benefits from a better product,” she said.
The on-the-go Kiki Lynn customer can appreciate the longevity, comfort and versatility of McKinley’s garments—her shirtdresses and caftans go from home to office to beach.
Erika Schrieber, D.C. Designer
D.C. designer Erika Schrieber is pushing the boundaries of casual design and reimagining the basics.
“My inspiration lies in functionality,” said Schrieber. “The woman I design for is working and needs a day-to-night look that is presentable and completely uncomplicated.”
Schrieber’s “elevated essentials” include slouchy tees, breathable, versatile dresses and her signature perfect pencil skirt, a staple for any busy city woman. All Erika Schrieber garments are created in Washington, D.C. by local company Pattern Sample Sew; Schrieber values the creative flexibility and community that arises when garments are created in the U.S.
“I had some samples made overseas—it took about two months, and the quality was very poor. I knew I needed to be able to see my samples while they were created, to text or call the person making them. There’s something to be said for a quality product created by our friends and neighbors,” she said.
Schrieber’s ES Initiative puts a cheeky spin on American made products with a classic-style tee that proclaims Let’s Do It Right Here. Ten percent of the proceeds from the shirt benefit Fashion Fights Poverty, “a program that teaches kids skills in the fashion trade and cultivates creativity from a young age,” explained Schrieber.
Sarah Bayot, Founder of Kicheko Goods
Social responsibility means a lot to Sarah Bayot, owner of environmentally-and socially-conscious jewelry startup Kicheko Goods. All Kicheko jewelry helps children at Mango Tree School in the Democratic Republic of Congo further their education.
“One necklace sends one child to school for one month,” said Bayot. “Education is so important…it expands worldview, extends possibilities, awakens a person and helps him or her to develop a sense of their dreams and goals. Education is empowering, especially for young girls and women.”
Kicheko also helps to empower women closer to home. Bayot’s beautiful, versatile designs embody her concept of the Kicheko woman.
“She’s diverse, independent, and rooted to where she comes from,” she explained. “The Kicheko woman comes in many forms, but she’s uniquely her own. I hope that my designs can help women explore themselves and their style. It’s an incredible time to be a woman, and I want to celebrate that, put something good out into the world.”
Bayot finds inspiration from her D.C. roots, often browsing the National Gallery of Art for ideas. Naturally occurring themes make their way into Kicheko as well; signature pieces include necklaces created from tines that deer and elk naturally shed, and one-of-a-kind quartz pendants. All Kicheko jewelry is hand-created in Bayot’s D.C. workshop.