Environmentally sound fabrics for everyone!
We chat with Michelle Engel-Bencsko and Gina Pantastico – the founders of the organic fabric company Cloud9 about its new venture
Cloud9 is one of the leading companies offering organic fabrics – how did it all start for the both of you?
GP: Michelle and I both started our careers in the garment industry. In 1996, we started working together at the same company. Michelle was the Design Director and I was the Production Director. While we were responsible for two very different aspects of garment production, there was often times we’d work very closely in order to move the prints and designs from the pre-production stage into mass production. We quickly became good friends, and also respected each other professionally. After working together for eight years, our careers took us in different directions, but we always remained in touch. About five years later, we got talking over bagels at breakfast. Neither of us was feeling particularity fulfilled professionally, so we decided we were going to start a fabric company.
What made you concentrate on providing organic fabrics?
GP: Michelle was already licensing her art with another fabric company, and I was working as a consultant for companies looking to produce garments in Asia – so between her design background and my production and sourcing background (which often included sales), as well as our mutual profession respect for each other we considered ourselves a dream team and knew we could offer beautiful fabrics in an industry that needed fresh art!
Back in 2008 when we started there were no organic fabric options offered to quilters. The only organic options were typically drab, oatmeal colours! We were both new moms so the thought that we could fill a niche to this segment of the market really appealed to us.
We knew there was a void that we could fill!
Why are the main reasons that sewers want to choose organic fabrics?
GP: I think they choose them for a multitude of reasons like they want to make sustainable or eco-friendly products. They may realise how environmentally friendly organic fabric production is, from seed to finished product. In most cases, I think customers have concerns about the environment and want to do their part in keeping it healthy, and even more so today.
What types of projects have your fabrics been designed for?
MEB: Cloud9 offers a wide variety of substrates from quilting cottons to airy batiste to substantial barkcloth and heavy-duty cotton duck. So it’s really a wide range of sewing projects that one can make.
We are also conscientious about pairing the designer’s style to the finished products.
We understand exciting times are ahead, and you’re about to launch a new brand soon. Tell us about it, and how it will complement Cloud9?
GP: As everyone knows, organic fabrics are more expensive than conventional cottons. The farming process is much more labour intensive and costly than conventional cotton farming. Unfortunately, not everyone is able to afford organic fabrics. With Felicity Fabrics, we’re giving these customers an opportunity to purchase fabrics that are offered in beautiful designs and colours, but at a palatable price point and still more environmentally sound than most others. These will all be OEKO-Tex certified.
What will the first Felicity fabric collections look like?
MEB: Felicity Fabrics will be formulaic in approach. This is an intentional decision in order to facilitate our deliveries and the shop owner’s own schedules. There will be three collections comprised of five designer prints in each of the quarterly deliveries, which begins March 2020.
Each collection comes in two unique colour ways for a total of six ranges per delivery. Because they’re made almost exclusively for quilting and patchwork, you can expect smaller scaled prints and most in multi-directional repeats. In keeping with our aesthetics, they will have a fashionable fresh look in trendy colour palettes. There is a core group of 60 basic blenders that we infuse into each assortment so there are a total of 12 complementary prints to work with in each collection. These are primarily geared to the patchworker but they can certainly be used in any projects where quilting weight fabric is suitable. We offer these fabrics by the yard/metre bolts, as well as traditional precuts.
There will also be four quilt project, which are available to download on our website. Each uses a fat quarter bundle of the 12 print assortment, and are beginner friendly, completely randomised and can be used with any range. There are examples of these quilts on the collection pages on the website too. We’ll develop similar projects for use with our other pre-cuts, which you can also be found at www.felicityfabrics.com.