I have never known Tessa Clark to be bored. Since college, she has been a hard worker who is constantly putting her ideas to the test. With a goal to create clothing that lasts a lifetime in your wardrobe, Tessa began building Grind and Glaze in college. Grind and Glaze launched its first collection for sale at the end of 2018 that includes eight styles. The company is working towards zero waste, finding a purpose for all scraps before needing to purchase new fabric. Tessa’s determination, creativity, and friendly personality will continue to get her far in the sustainable fashion world. I truly admire her goals and work ethic! I speak with Tessa below :)
1. How did Grind and Glaze start, what led you to this this first collection?
Grind and Glaze is inspired by my rural, and pretty atypical upbringing in Greenville, Ohio. My mother is a self taught ceramicist, and my father is a miller in a working, historic flour mill. My parents are my inspiration; grind and glaze. Through my education I realized my aesthetic lended to things I was exposed to back home: Japanese aesthetics in pottery, a love of history and nature, woodworking, good taste. I originally named my thesis collection Grind and Glaze, and my brand followed suit. (Tessa graduated from The University of Cincinnati’s DAAP program in Fashion Design in 2016. Her thesis and final collection for school was titled Grind and Glaze)
2. With Grind and Glaze being heavily inspired by your upbringing and your family. Where do you find new inspiration?
I let my upbringing and my values ground my designs. I hope to create clothing people want and love to wear. I love to travel, and I love people watching. I like to see what types of clothes people wear, what they are comfortable in, and how they style their looks. It’s important to me to create garments that will be worn multiple times for multiple occasions. I often look to art and architecture for inspiration as well.
3. What is the largest challenge you've experienced when it comes to creating this sustainable line in Cincinnati?
Before Sew Valley, my biggest challenge was finding production. Now that Sew Valley exists and my studio is located next to the production room, everything seems to be falling into place. My biggest challenge overall is financing my business. It takes so much money to launch a start up fashion brand. I also feel more pressure to justify and explain to consumers in the Midwest why sustainable garments made in the USA have a higher retail price. Overall, I’m excited and happy to have my brand based in Cincinnati, a city I love.
4. With sustainable/ethical design what steps do you take to incorporate what you can into your brand and how you design/produce?
I do my best with the small amount of money I have to invest in all natural textiles, and when I can, I opt for sustainably produced textiles. I’m giving my first attempt at being minimal or zero waste; I recently sorted through all of my scrap fabric and produced zero waste garments and accessories from the scraps. While limited edition, it’s worth it to make something from these small pieces! It’s definitely something I’ll continue doing as I design. And, I encourage consumers to wear their garments often and give them a long life.
5. Why was sustainability such an important factor to your brand when you started Grind and Glaze?
Every brand should have a sustainability plan. I’m still figuring out my plan.“Sustainability” is such a buzz word right now, and I think it’s important to clarify what sustainability means to me. To me, to be sustainable means harmony of all moving parts. I also do my best to be as eco-friendly with my business practices and designing as possible. The textile and fashion industry is the second largest polluter in the world, and I don’t want Grind and Glaze to be part of that statistic. I also believe sustainability also refers to how much wear you can get out of a garment. I try to design garments that are unique but timeless, so the wearer doesn’t feel like it’s out of style in a year. My plan is evolving and changing, but I will always be an advocate for timeless, eco-friendly fashion.
6. Can you tell me about your experience with Sew Valley, what got you excited about working with them?
I had been searching for production since I graduated in 2016. It has been my dream to have my own brand and I didn’t think it would be possible to do that in Cincinnati. Now that Sew Valley is established, I’m working towards that dream!
7. What is next for Grind and Glaze?
Collaboration and exploration. I’m preparing to introduce custom woven textiles to my collection, all made on a loom by Toby Ganz of By Hand Textiles, here in Cincinnati. I’m also gearing up to work with Handspun Hope– a fair-trade, ethnically made knitwear company based in Rwanda.
And, I’m excited to see where Project Runway takes Grind and Glaze. If anything, I want it to give me a platform to speak up about sustainability in the industry.
Tessa Clark just launched her first official Grind and Glaze line in December of 2018. Her line is available for purchase at grindandglaze.com or you can find her pieces in store at Idlewild Woman on Vine Street. She continues to release new pieces made from her scrap waste so follow her on social media to stay in the know. Additionally, Tessa is a contestant on Project Runway Season 17 premiering this March 14th.
Go follow her Instagram to stay up to date here — @grindandglaze
Follow Tessa here — @_tessaclark
Shop here — grindandglaze.com
and read about her Project Runway debut here