What do Storm Large, Cheryl Strayed, and Jenny Conlee all have in common (aside from being wickedly talented local women that individually redefine their field of work)? They’ve all been known to frequent Carla Mink’s boutique, another small business reshaping local, environmentally-conscious apparel one jersey deadstock dress at a time.
At first glance, Mink's model appears familiar: high-end, mom-centered, floral candles, decadent jewelry, and a variety of layering pieces. But what sets the Hawthorne boutique apart is that owner Carla Mink chooses all her stock to be eco-friendly and designed to last upwards of 20 years. “I’ll have customers telling me they’ve had a dress for eight years,” she says. “That is fantastic. But I’m like then come get another one!"
Having spent seven years at Buffalo Exchange both during and after finishing her undergrad, she was inspired by the amount of recycled clothes she saw in her tenure at the well-known thrift chain to start her own boutique. So in 2007, Carla ditched law school a month in and set up shop with two goals: sustainability and durability. And with good reason, not only is fashion one of the most wasteful industries (global fashion used 79 billion cubic meters of water in 2015), clothing is filling up landfills at an alarming rate as the average person throws away 70 pounds of clothing a year.
In 2014, Carla started designing her own line, sold exclusively in her shop, using deadstock fabric (fabric that's no longer made and this is the ends of it). She employs a patternmaker and a garment sewer to turn the designs into eco, locally crafted clothes. “I pull from runways and streetwear,” she talks about the inspiration for the pieces. “Everything's meant to be incredibly versatile and worth the splurge because you’ll reach for it over and over again.”
The boutique just celebrated a milestone of 12 years in the business, but Carla says she’s still learning everyday. “It’s never a project that’s over, it’s pretty much like parenting a third child that refuses to grow up," she says, referring to the challenge of having to balance two little ones, a business, and self-care. “I don’t think I could expand anytime soon and maintain the same, intimate relationship with my customers. I know all of my regulars—they’re what keeps us open.”
3418 SE Hawthorne Blvd