Design & Sustainability on

Nau Team Highlight: Carma

— By: The Team at Nau

Spring is a time for growth, renewal and more light in our days one hour at a time. While we cherish this season every time it comes around, this particular one holds a special significance for us: it’s our ten-year anniversary. Looking back can be a whirlwind – ups, downs, memories here, moments there, laughs – it can really make your head spin & your heart swell (in the best way). We will be marking this ten-year moment throughout the year but wanted to begin with the epicenter of Nau: its people.

Each month we’ll be sharing an interview from one of the hard-working, hilarious people at Nau that make us love what we do & make the product you love. In spirit of International Women’s Day and Women’s History Month, we’re kicking off the series with our one and only women’s designer, Carma. From her earnest entry into design to her personal philosophies on being a woman, mother and citizen in today’s world, we’re sharing an intimate glimpse at the person behind all your favorite styles & invite you to dig in:

Q: How did you get into design?

A: I was raised with very little money so teaching myself to sew and making my own clothes gave me the feeling of financial freedom. I started with repurposing vintage and thrift store finds which gave me the opportunity to express my own style. I then moved on to making my own patterns, and design school felt like a natural next step.

Q: What do you think makes good or better design?

A: When all aspects of the process are deeply considered, from sustainable practices to sourcing raw materials, lifespan, versatility, and timeless qualities, the foundations of good design are in place. Also, the care and consideration for the people producing the products and their quality of life are equally important. To me, excellent design is one that’s worthy of the resources to produce it.

Q: How do you think design contributes to a better world?

A: Design can change lives, enrich communities, and bring people together. It has the power to sustain small communities by incorporating their local resources into the design material, while also empowering the individual wearing the design and promoting the culture they hail from.

Q: Tell us a little about your design process for Nau. Where do you gather inspiration?

A: I gather inspiration from just about everywhere, but some of my favorites include the mountains, ocean, architecture, museums, and biographies on artists. Each season I start with an inspiration, along with concepts for silhouettes and details I want to include throughout the collection. From there, I begin sketching and let thoughts form organically. By giving them the time and space they need to grow, I am able to boil them down to their essence, a vital component for design.

Q: What’s your favorite Nau piece you’ve designed? Why?

A: The Felt Shirt Jacket. It’s one of the most minimal looking but useful pieces in my wardrobe. The fabric is such a perfect weight that it doubles as a jacket on warmer days and layers perfectly under a coat on cooler days. I love that it conforms to your body and almost becomes a second skin; the more you wear it, the better it gets!

Q: How do you think clothing should fit together visually?

A: This is one of my favorite things about designing and getting dressed daily. The possibilities are endless, even with a very small wardrobe.  Volume, silhouette, and color combinations are all things that you can play with. I love tonal dressing and using multiple layers to get a silhouette that feels unfamiliar and cool.

Q: How do you think clothing should function for the versatility of life?

A: People are so busy and active these days that versatility in clothing is almost expected. We all want clothes that are going to take us through our work day, out to drinks with friends and home to snuggle our babies (or dogs). To have this versatility in our clothing, the design and fabrics both need to be on point and stay looking good throughout the day.

Q: What’s it like to be a woman in today’s world? In design?

A: It feels a little scary. I have two little girls and with our basic human rights being threatened, it angers me and makes me worried about the future. Yet, it has also lit a fire under my butt to get out and be more involved in my community. Women have always had such a strong voice in the design world, and it feels like a very positive place to be – especially here in Portland. It seems like new women-owned companies and brands are popping up all the time.

Q: What advice would you give to women looking to jump into design/apparel?

A: Do it! Follow your dreams, make sure you get paid what you’re worth, work hard and don’t settle. Be flexible and willing to wear many hats because that’s the best way to learn the business. Also, trust yourself and your design process – you are worthy!

Q: What are your thoughts on the current women’s movement?

A: I’m loving it. Women are such strong, powerful people, and there is nothing that can stop us when we all band together. After seeing the amazing turnout for the Women’s March and the rising amount of women interested in running for government, I believe that change is on its way. The unity in our local communities and in the world makes me so hopeful that the future can be a beautiful place.

Q: What role do you think people can play in this movement?

A: Get involved in any way you can. Attend community meetings, sign-up for newsletters that keep you informed and voice your opinion to your representatives. Inform your kids and work with your community to create the changes you want to see. Instead of feeling totally helpless, let your frustrations fuel your advocacy!

Have a question for Carma? Tweet us anytime at @nauclothing.

Find Carma’s favorite Felt Shirt Jacket here.

Featured building: Instrument by Holst