New Orleans — home to a melting pot of cross-cultural and multilingual heritage. It’s known for its various indigenous cuisines, distinctive musical influences and of course its infamous Mardi Gras festival . . . But what about Sustainable Fashion?
RepurposingNOLA Piece by Peace is a New Orleans based, female-owned business by indie fashionista Traci Claussen. As a triple bottom line company, they utilize excess fabrics from the vivacious New Orleans community to create stunning sustainable designer goods. The triple bottom line concept is one they define as structured to support local people and the planet, with profits falling third in line, which is the opposite of most corporate ethos.
Over the years, Claussen has carved a unique piece of New Orleans by creating a staple sustainable fashion brand in a community that has struggled economically after Hurricane Sandy. With such an eclectic aesthetic full of resources, REpurposingNOLA values just what its name entails — “repurposing”- which is the art of finding new uses for old items.
They are one of very few companies that source everything locally. In their products they utilize burlap coffee sacks from the local roasting plant PJs Coffee. They are notorious for salvaging belts from thrift stores who help the community. And they even incorporate upholstery and vinyl remnants into the mix. Only contracting with local seamstresses from the 9th Ward all the way to the West Bank, has created long-lasting partnerships since 2009. They stay true to the ethos of fair trade by supporting healthy working conditions and paying a livable wage. By sourcing maters and labor locally, they can truly say they are “MADE IN NEW ORLEANS and a truly UNIQUE piece of New Orleans”.
Their distinctive approach to sustainability doesn’t stop with the products they sell to consumers and their favorable labor practices.
REpurposingNOLA takes it a step further to ensure that their mission is fulfilled within the small details of their business. They have created their brand shop displays from reclaimed wood and furnishings sourced locally. They utilize all leftover scraps to create their signature "shopping bags" to put each customer's purchase in that can be re-used as a shoe bag or dirty clothes bag. And last but not least, they use eco-friendly labels printed locally on fabric scraps. REpurposingNOLA Piece by Peace has truly become an upcycling treasure in New Orleans.
Traci Claussen is the face of her company and as a woman social entrepreneur, she continues to enrich lives of woman small business owners. For Claussen, corporate social responsibility is key. Through her work in New Orleans she continues to advocate for and be a leader in community activism, employment of local workers, the utilization of repurposed materials, participation in mentoring programs and the support of philanthropic projects.