In a world where people have only recently started to care about where their food comes from, if pesticides and chemicals are ingredients in what they consume, if their fridge or television is ecostar friendly, if lightbulbs are LED high efficiency, if their car can use flex fuel, or no gas at all, it frankly doesn't make a damn bit of sense to all of us in the conscious side of the clothing industry why you wouldn't give a damn about where your clothing comes from!
Enter TS Designs, a radically transparent business based in Burlington, North Carolina that has developed and is therefore the modern day conductor of the supply chain orchestra of dirt to shir t-shirts. TS Designs, which stands for T-Shirt Designs, was launched decades ago by Eric Henry, well known for participating in TED Talks, who has manned the helm of a business dedicated to reshoring jobs, lifting the veil of the supply chain of apparel and textiles, and strived to find a better alternative, is an industry pioneer and torchbearer.
Did you know the average Hanes t-shirt travels between 15,000 and 20,000 miles from start to finish before you purchase it, while the Cotton of the Carolinas and 10k project tees travel less than 800 miles start to finish, and sometimes as little as 600 miles? That is start to finish, folks, as in from the cotton field to the gin, to the spinner, knitter, cut and sew, and finally printing with TS Designs' proprietary REHANCE reactive dye technology. All in North Carolina, supporting fair wages and local economy. Pretty f***ing baller, right?
To learn more about TS Designs, check out their website here.
To become "in the know" about the Cotton of the Carolinas, or the 10K project, click on the links in this sentence.
Recently, TS Designs launched a premium, direct-to-consumer line of clothing using natural dyestuffs and their paddle dye facility in downtown Burlington, a brand called Solid State Clothing. Their garment dye operation is one of the last in our state, and it's a thing of beauty to see in action.
Solid State Clothing uses premium ingredients to make a t-shirt, from the cotton and knit cloth to the pattern and seam construction. But, it takes it even further with its narrative dye usage for the natural dyes program.
I present to you Courtney Lochemer (in yellow pictured below), a Durhamite (that means she hails from Durham, NC for those of your non-North Carolinians reading) and avid promoter of the NC FiberShed movement, who serves as the brand manager and creative backbone to the Solid State Clothing brand.
But, Courtney is more than just a "brand manager" as her title might say on LinkedIn, so don't take her for face value. Our store has been integrally linked to TS Designs since we placed our first wholesale order in 2012 after taking a facility tour to see their B-Corp, eco-friendly, company garden, and energy efficient setup earlier that year. Did I mention Eric Henry also is a pioneer of NC bio-diesel and now the EV movement?
Back to Courtney, who we were first introduced to several years ago in the Summer of 2020, has really been setting for premium tees in the industry. Earlier this year we paid her a site visit to the dye house in Burlington, where Joey Seawell, Andrew Duke, and I spent the day dyeing some 10K project tees with pomegranate and iron, as well as black walnut.
Some of the special projects that Courtney has seen through include amazing narratives. Our favorite has to be the sweet potatoes. Whodathunk that sweet potatoes could be used so many times in one lifespan? First, they were boiled in the kettles at Burlington Beerworks, a local brew stop, and dye was made. Then, they were made into a beer, and lastly into a food dish. Now that's what I call sustainability!
Last month, Evan and Greg were featured on the Solid State Clothing blog in an article about the history of t-shirts. To read the journal entry, click here.
TS Designs is a producer of Goods With Purpose, and we are so happy to say we have been friends for a decade!
Stay tuned, as we may or may not have something in the works for later this year, involving Stony Creek Colors' natural indigo!
Thank you for your friendship, many conversations, as well as projects past, present, and future, Courtney! We are grateful for you. Keep crushing it!
You can follow Solid State Clothing on Instagram here.
You can purchase a natural dyed tee from Hudson's Hill here.
You can see our latest collaborative product using Solid State tees and local artist RivTak here.