Rachel is The Cotery’s Community Manager. She previously was the Small Event Coordinator for Teach for America’s Giving Committee in New Orleans during her time as a corp member. She studied Business Administration and Political Science in the Tennessee mountains, where she grew up with a love of bluegrass music and buttermilk biscuits.
What do you make?
The Cotery is an online platform for creatives to design and presell garments. Basically, we use fashion to give talented folks a creative outlet for their art, photography, or general design ideas. Once they have designed a garment on our website, they presell it. After the sales minimum is met, we manufacture and ship their design. It allows designers to explore the fashion industry without risk. It also allows customers to get really unique garments made in the USA.
The Cotery started because the founders (Char Genevier and Tricia Hoke) realize that there is a barrier to entry in the apparel industry for many great and talented artists. The Cotery is the bridge between these artists and the fashion industry. We empower creatives to design without worrying about the time-consuming, complex, and expensive aspects of fashion. I joined the team because, as a former teacher, I have a deep appreciation for empowering others, and the Cotery’s goal really resonated with me. Because there’s no up-front costs, inventory investment, or manufacturing contracts for these independent designers, they are able to actually succeed in the fashion world, without risking everything.
What’s the most amazing, unusual (craziest) thing anyone has ever done with or told you about what you make?
Oh man, some of the designs we get are absolutely incredible. My favorite design so far would probably be these leggings. The design is the topography of the Red Rocks National Park in Colorado. Damon Redd created his company, Kind Design, to share his appreciation for the surrounding areas and outdoor sports, and he does a beautiful job bringing his passions into the designs. He’s designed a couple pieces with us and I can’t wait to see what he does next. I’m really looking forward to showing these leggings off at the TV on the Radio concert at Red Rocks this summer.
Be you and do. People have really incredible ideas and talents, but too often let self-doubt keep them from actually taking the steps to complete a project. I think it’s so important to put yourself out there and really give an interest or a passion the chance to succeed. If it doesn’t work, so what? You tried, and I think that’s more important.
What is your favorite part about the maker movement?
Without a doubt my favorite part is the influence of other makers. It’s really incredible what folks are doing these days, and observing their passions is truly inspirational. Not only is it just really stinkin’ cool technology and innovation, but the problem solving is astounding. I’m really excited for the future of this movement. I think society is embracing creative problem solving, and I think the Maker movement is leading the way. I really can’t wait to see this mentality at work when applied to societal and environmental issues. I’m also really eager to see this more in our school systems because it’s amazing to see what kids can do if you put them in an environment that leads them in this kind of problem solving.
Where do you see your making going in the next 3 to 5 years?
I think every type of “making” is only going to increase in traction. There is a renewed appreciation for independent organizations and projects, as well as creative problem solving. Shopping from companies like The Cotery allows customers to be part of the movement community, and that requires a transparency from organizations that really energizes both consumers and producers. I think it increases responsibility for businesses, which will lead to overall improved society.
What do you wish you could make but don’t know how to (yet)?
Moonshine – I was raised in Appalachia. But that’s illegal, so let’s say quilts. 300 years ago, women in communities used to get together and quilt when someone got engaged or had a baby. I love the idea of the thought, community, and talent that went into quilts like this. I’d love to learn how to make them, and figure out how technology can be part of the quilt-come-back.