Meet 13 California Designers Reimagining Textile Creation

Photographed by Paige Green

Group photo of designers who participated in the Spring 2024 Borrowed from the Soil Design Exhibition

Designers have a unique opportunity in our textile systems to turn natural materials grown on our regional landscapes into beautiful, long-lasting goods that serve our communities. In March 2023, Fibershed invited designers in Northern and Central California to join our ‘Borrowed from the Soil’ Design Challenge. Over the last 12 months, we have been inspired by the 30 designers in our region who explored how their design choices can embrace longevity, compostability, and respect for the soil while using local natural fibers grown on Climate Beneficial™ farms and ranches.

Below, we’re highlighting the 13 designers who participated in the spring 2024 Borrowed from the Soil Design Exhibition, February 29 – March 4 in Point Reyes Station, California.

Continue reading to meet the designers and explore their work. Plus, if you missed it, read the highlights from the fall 2023 Design Exhibition here.

Photo of Alexandria Vasquez

Alexandria Vasquez, San Rafael 

Alexandria Vasquez is developing a socio-emotional framework for designing clothing. Her goal is to add longevity to the human wardrobe, starting with the design process, and supported by textiles that honor our bodies, planet, and labor. She earned her Ph.D. in sociology and started her clothing research and design studio, Herderin, in 2018 after experimenting with clothing and interiors designed for the nervous system. She is currently working on an essay, “Nature/Self: The Self, Climate Change, and Empathic Design,” which applies sociological theory to the design process.

  • Technical Design Focus Areas: Compostability and longevity 
  • Keep up with Herderin on Instagram and online


Photo of Allison Reilly

Allison Reilly, Point Reyes Station

Allison Reilly is a textile and clothing designer and shepherd currently living and working in West Marin. She has a BA in Fashion Design with Knitwear from Central Saint Martins in London and has worked with different types of sheep operations, including contract grazing, dairy, and fiber. She is currently the animal manager at Black Mountain Ranch, raising Jacob and Churro sheep as well as Huacaya and Suri alpacas. At the heart of Allison’s work is a continuous theme of allowing the process to inform the finished product. She follows the thread backward by developing a deep relationship with every step; from raising sheep and shearing them, to hand processing raw wool and spinning the yarn, to knitting and weaving the fabrics that form the final garment. In this way, she honors all of the shepherds, shearers, millers, and fiber artisans who have come before her as masters and stewards of their craft. Historical and utilitarian references inform her design sense and reflect a love for beautifully crafted yet functional wardrobe staples meant to be used daily, repaired, and loved.

  • Technical Design Focus Areas: Compostability and longevity 
  • Keep up with Allison on Instagram


Photo of Alma Heffernan

Alma Heffernan, Carmel

Alma Heffernan is inspired by the nature and wildlife that surrounds her. Rendering whimsy and personality into her works using natural color and imagination, her ultimate objective is presenting quality wearables that stand the test of time. Alma hopes to positively impact people and the planet by maintaining integrity and authenticity to the local environment in the clothing-making process. T-shirts displayed in this collection will go into production soon! 

  • Technical Design Focus Areas: Compostability 
  • Follow Alma’s design and production journey on Instagram


Photo of Carol Lee Shanks

Carol Lee Shanks, Berkeley

During the yearlong Fibershed Design Challenge, Carol Lee Shanks has been working with regional materials that have stories of their own to share. They beckon Carol to examine the characteristics they offer and to explore their own unique qualities as they inspire her decision-making. As she responds to the behaviors of a fabric or yarn, design ideas emerge. A dialogue begins between materials and imagination, which is ultimately expressed by a garment, gently swaying upon a body.

  • Technical Design Focus Areas: Compostability, longevity, zero waste
  • Keep up with Carol on Instagram


Photo of Carol Miltimore

Carol Miltimore, Berkeley

Carol Miltimore’s work explores adjacency, our connection to nature, and how time is measured. These pieces investigate versatility and how one adapts to changing surroundings. Her garments are made from materials that are fully compostable. 

  • Technical Design Focus Areas: Compostability, longevity
  • Keep up with Carol’s clothing line Seek Collective on Instagram and online


Photo of Flore Costumé

Flore Costumé, Sebastopol

Flore Costumé’s (they/them, li) visual work is under the practice m fèl ak menm, a tending to lifeways by following the wisdom of their hands. They are weaving pockets of breathable space with the teachings of their blood family, ancestors, the mountains who claim them, alongside the technology of environmental science in every act of creation. Their work with fibers is both an offering to the living world and a reclamation of their responsibility to the more-than-human world.

  • Technical Design Focus Areas: Compostability
  • Keep up with Flore on Instagram


Photo of Helene Jones

Helene Jones, Santa Clara

“What does California feel like?” asked Lauren Tucker from California Cotton & Climate Coalition (C4) in October 2023 on a cotton farm tour in the San Joaquin Valley. This question stayed with Helene Jones as she reflected on how the last year had felt, having moved with her partner from Bristol, UK, to the South Bay Area in January 2023. Helene wanted to explore if a garment could capture and embody what California has felt like to them both and the possibilities of hand stitching to make marks and carry their narrative. She felt drawn to the freedom and mobility that hand stitching offered, to hold and shape the fabric adding to the memory that already existed in it. She strove to make a zero-waste T-shirt for her partner by listening to the fabric and him, as Helene thought through the subtle and clean finishes she could achieve to realize a product quality she was proud of.

  • Technical Design Focus Areas: Longevity


Photo of Kelsey Chen and her work

Kelsey Chen/Sessile Clothing, La Honda

Sessile Clothing is a project inspired by collaboration with local materials, ecology, and farmers to create a soil-to-soil clothing brand from small local farms that features transformable, playful, modular design that is adjustable for fit and shape.


Photo of Lily Hourigan

Lily Hourigan, Petaluma

Lily Hourigan (she/her) aspires to design everyday, functional items centered on regenerative materials, sustainable working conditions, longevity, and regional resilience. She holds a BS in Industrial Design from San Francisco State University and is hoping to use her skills to develop products that create connections to the materials and production processes. This collection by Lily is designed to create functional, comfortable, and durable pieces that provoke conversation about material choices and clothing care.

  • Technical Design Focus Areas: Compostability, longevity 
  • Keep up with Lily on Instagram


Photo of Lisa Takata

Lisa Takata, Visalia

Since 2000, Lisa Takata has actively supported Navajo sheep herding families and local ranches by buying and using their raw wool in her fiber art. Lisa is a hand spinner, weaver, dyer, knitter, and member of four weaving guilds in California and Arizona. After temporarily relocating back to her hometown of Visalia, California, to provide elder care for her mother, she wanted to better understand local sources of fiber arts materials available in this region. Lisa is grateful to Fibershed for this opportunity to learn about and utilize locally grown materials in her creative practice.

  • Technical Design Focus Areas: Compostability, longevity 


Photo of Mira Musank

Mira Musank, Castro Valley

Mira Musank (she/her) is an interdisciplinary textile upcycling artist who transforms textile waste into custom garments. She focuses on overconsumption and waste in her climate art expression; exploring radical yet relevant ways to extend textile lifespans that benefit people and the environment. Her works can be found on
Through this Fibershed Design Challenge, she executes simple, geometric garment designs derived from square shapes in compostable, regionally produced textiles. 

  • Technical Design Focus Areas: Compostability, longevity, zero waste 
  • Keep up with Mira on Instagram and online


Photo of Lydia Wendt

Lydia Wendt/California Cloth Foundry, San Francisco

California Cloth Foundry by Lydia Wendt is a collaboration with fashion and nature. Having previously worked as a designer for prominent fashion brands, she grew disenchanted with their widespread use of plastic fibers and petrochemical dyes and coatings. Recognizing their toxic effects on our health and the environment, Lydia crafted a solution by creating textiles and apparel using natural fibers and dyes that are good enough to eat — as cotton is a carbohydrate, wool a protein, and her green chemistry’s ingredients predominantly found in the kitchen! 

  • Technical Design Focus Areas: Compostability, longevity, zero waste 
  • Follow California Cloth Foundry’s work on Instagram and online


Photo of Natalie Walsh

Natalie Walsh, San Francisco

Natalie is a digital designer by trade and maker by passion. She has a degree in fashion, knows her way around a shop, and has dabbled in most creative mediums. She is currently evolving her art practice to minimize impact by using natural and found materials and applying circular design thinking. The Fibershed Design Challenge has been a perfect way to apply these principles, explore the world of natural dyes, and engage with California’s regional fiber system. The pieces included in this show are inspired by climate anxiety, grief, and hope. The sweater is a data representation of the world on fire. The embroidery is a graph of temperature anomalies from 1948 – 2023 in 5-year increments, sourced from NOAA. At first, the data reads as an abstract pattern, however, 2023 was such a departure that visually, it appears like an accident. This intentionally highlights the uncharted territory we are quickly entering on a rapidly warming planet. The dress is a visual representation of the world on fire. Black created from biochar fades into fire engulfing the green of the forest, finally fading to a clear blue sky. The hood can be put up to allow the wearer to hide from the reality upon us in grief and fear, or be worn down to look out in hope and action. Both feelings are natural reactions to the uncertainties ahead, often experienced simultaneously. When Natalie isn’t sewing, she does freelance brand and digital product design for climate companies, and co-leads Climate Designers, an organization focused on empowering designers across disciplines to take action on climate. 

  • Technical Design Focus Areas: Compostability, zero waste 

If you would like to learn more about fiber and dye systems, Climate Beneficial™ agriculture, Fibershed initiatives, and more: