CICIL brings sustainability to the textile world
Both CAROLINE COCKERHAM (pictured) and LAURA TRIPP have always loved textiles and grew up sewing and crafting. Cockerham and Tripp attended the Wilson College of Textiles at NC State University. Cockerham earned a Bachelor of Science in fashion and textile management/development and a Master of Science in sustainable textiles and apparel. Tripp earned a Bachelor of Art and Design and a Bachelor of Science in textile technology.
“These programs scratched my itch between the technology, art, and business side of textiles.” Cockerham realized she liked textiles at four years old after trying to make an outfit out of paper. “I loved to make stuff. I made my prom dress in high school,” she says. “I grew up in a boring North Carolina suburb. Boredom bred creativity for me. So, NC State was a mecca for making things.”
Each worked in the textile industry for brands like The North Face, Kate Spade, Casper, and Gap. Cockerham and Tripp’s paths crossed in 2014 while working in knitwear development at Patagonia. They realized sustainability and supply chains were a common thread between them and decided to start IDA Fiber Studio, a sustainable textile design, and development consultancy.
Cockerham and Tripp aim to build the future of textiles through renewable materials, regenerative agriculture, and regional supply chains. Primarily, they focus on advanced research and development for textiles, specifically in the hemp fiber space. They are working on a grant with the U.S. Navy on hemp fabrics.
“We’re trying to find the nexus within the hemp industry where we could make a difference. As we dug into hemp as a fiber, it made a lot of sense for home goods. We let that fiber inform the entire business,” Cockerham says. Their collaboration grew and in November 2021, the duo launched ClCIL, a rug manufacturer that focuses on using natural and renewable materials.
“Hemp was where it started, but we realized there were other fiber opportunities like wool,” Tripp adds. “It will take some time to commercialize hemp. In the meantime, we found a great wool supply chain that is a fiber perfectly suited for rugs and other home goods.”
Their rugs are custom and made to order, using 100% natural, renewable, and non-toxic materials. Their process starts at the farm level. Raw wool from Romney, Wensleydale, and Cotswold sheep is sourced from family farms in New York, Vermont, and Pennsylvania.
“We also work with co-ops that pool their wool in the Northeast,” Tripp says. “These are smaller farms that sell to buyers in larger lots. We’ve built relationships with shearers and maintain close ties to farmers doing the work.”
The wool is then shipped to South Carolina where it’s cleaned with just soap and water. Finally, the wool is sent to a manufacturer just outside of Greensboro where it’s combed, carded, spun, braided, and hand-sewn into uniquely shaped rugs that are both timeless and surprising. They skip synthetic dyes and embrace rich natural colors ranging from white to blond, grey, brown, and black. “So, from farm to final, the product travels less than 1,000 miles,” Cockerham says. “Since our pieces are made to order, there’s less waste and inventory, more flexibility for us to test the market with samples, and we can offer custom options, which is helpful when working with interior designers,” Tripp adds.
Cockerham says the process is expensive. “There’s a bit of consumer education that’s needed to educate people on the process and how it contributes to the pricing.”
Their goals are simple: create nothing but natural products, use fibers that are minimally processed, source in small batches, provide traceability in the supply chain process, and make beautiful, timeless products that will last a lifetime.
“Our homes are filled with toxic chemicals, so we aim to detoxify your home and habitats through sustainable and regenerative fibers,” Cockerham says.
To view more of photographer Terah Hoobler’s work, go to terahhoobler.com.
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