Do you love a comfortable pair of jeans? Did you ever think about how jeans are like tea? Our October teafluencer does! Meet Tricia Carey and discover her love of fashion, dedication to improving the industry while embracing its roots, leaving the world a little bit better than she found it and how tea plays a role in her life. After you read what Tricia has to say, you’ll never look at jeans and tea the same way!
Harney: Tell us a little about you. Where are you from, educational/professional background, where you live, family, etc.
Tricia: After graduating from the Fashion Institute of Technology, I met my husband in New York City when we were both starting our careers – his in finance and mine in fashion. We stayed in the NYC metro area, and today we are the proud parents of two kids, one who just started college and the other working in social media. We both look at ways that we can give back to our community; my husband is a volunteer fireman and I participate in fashion industry NGOs.
Harney: When did your interest in fashion begin? Did you ever want to be a designer?
Tricia: At a young age I remember playing with fashion plates where you can make different outfits and patterns. I would spend hours making designs and dreaming of beautiful evening dresses. Later, I would pour over fashion magazines with tear sheets organized in folders, thinking someday I would attend fashion shows. By junior high school I had a closet full of hand-me-downs from my two olders sisters which never quite fit right. My mother was insistent that there was nothing wrong with the clothes - perfectly good to be worn. This led me to learn how to sew in order to fix the clothes to suit my own style. Eventually, I attended college for fashion buying and merchandising in the early 1990s. What captivated me the most about fashion is the foundation that textiles make for beautiful and lasting clothes.
Harney: How does the denim industry work? What’s behind the scenes?
Tricia: Now I work in the textile industry promoting fibers and developing programs with sustainable fibers, like TENCEL™. I work with major global retailers and brands to support the development of new programs in their collections. One of the key markets I work with is the denim industry, which is a truly unique community. Denim a unique product developed with a craft and art based on a heritage of workwear. It is a blank canvas with an extensive process to apply indigo to the yarns, only to be removed later in laundry processing or by the user. A wardrobe staple around the world representing the mood of the times.
Knowing behind the scenes of the denim industry is like an orchestra with 100 players: each person along the supply chain playing their own notes to compose the perfect pair of jeans – from the fiber to yarn to fabric, then to garment maker and laundry with designers, product developer, operations and sales. Each collection is in harmony with precision and amazement that it actually reaches the store on time. Connecting with designers who influence their next collection is not a simple task. The many hands which are connected to producing each pair of jeans. Each jean in my closet tells a story behind the mind of the designer, the mood of the time and the materials that are available.
The denim industry is going through fundamental changes to address the environmental and social impacts. It is really quite an evolutionary time for the fashion industry. I am glad to be part of this industry and drive it forward.
Harney: Tell us about Carved in Blue. How did it start and what is your role?
Tricia: Since 2016 the denim blog, Carved in Blue, was initiated by the TENCEL denim team with my friend and colleague Michael Kininmonth from the UK. We had great denim stories of people, products and places we visited and did not want to be forgotten. We could see the industry was evolving and the need to build a community connection. During the pandemic, Carved in Blue united people with denim think tanks and videos from around the world. Eventually we won best topic-specific blog at the 2020 Content Marketing Awards, and we continue to tell our stories today.
Harney: What can people expect to learn when they visit the Carved in Blue site?
Tricia: When you visit Carved in Blue, you have an opportunity to catch a glimpse of the denim industry and know the people who make your jeans. It is a sneak peak at what styles are next. Designers highlight their denim philosophy or next-generation designers convey fresh ideas. Most of all, you will learn how denim can have a lower environmental footprint and can be produced ethically for conscious citizens.
Harney: What’s the Accelerating Circularity Project and what is your role?
Tricia: We are currently in a take, make, waste society which is linear. Think about how much you throw away everyday. Do we really know where “away” is? Accelerating Circularity Project is a collaborative group of retailers, brands and suppliers who are trying to solve the challenges of moving to a circular economy within the textile industry where textiles are recycled into new products. This NGO is finding the sectors that need investment and improvement in order to make circularity in textiles a reality. As the founder of Accelerating Circularity, Karla Magruder states, “circularity is a team sport” where everyone must pitch in.
Harney: You are also involved in the Fashion Impact Fund. What does this organization do?
Tricia: Fashion is a people business. Globally, the $2.4 trillion-dollar fashion industry employs more than 300 million people along the value chain. Of the 75 million garment workers, 80% of these workers are women between the ages of 18 and 35, and the majority earn less than $3 per day (ref: Ellen MacArthur Foundation, Fashion Revolution and Remake). The Fashion Impact Fund supports female founders in the fashion industry who are leading sustainable solutions through funding and marketing campaigns. The Fashion Impact Fund has several campaigns including the Circularity Solutionists podcast series in October. It is a wonderful group of caring people supporting diversity and progress in the fashion industry.
Harney: There’s an overwhelming theme to your work in addition to denim: sustainability. How do you see the fashion industry changing in the next decade or two in terms of becoming more sustainability-focused and environmentally friendly?
Tricia: A cornerstone to all my projects is environmental and social sustainability, which I connect back to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. After 30 years in the fashion industry, I see what is wrong and want to fix this for future generations.
Over the next decade, the fashion industry will shift from high consumption to value. We will get back to that time, like my mother said, when we cannot throw away garments. Natural resources, like land and water, will be necessary for food. Systemic change is imperative to evolve the fashion industry.
Harney: Congratulations on being named one of the Top 100 Most Influential People in the Denim Industry by WeAr Magazine last year and this year! What’s next for you? Any new projects on the horizon?
Tricia: The denim industry is aspirational to me and is built on relationships and crafting a blank blue canvas. New projects on my horizon include circularity, especially how to make fashion circular - faster. With the global fashion network connecting on this matter, I am confident we can achieve the necessary changes.
Harney: You spend a great deal of time traveling. Where are some of your favorite places?
Tricia: It’s hard to pick. A lot of my work is global and does require travel to meet in person. While this has been reduced due to the pandemic, there is nothing better than having your feet on the ground and seeing how someone actually works. With the canals, bikes and wholesome food, Amsterdam is one of my favorite cities to visit. Milan, Salzburg and Sao Paolo are also top on the list.
Harney: Which did you spend more time in during the early lockdown days of the pandemic: jeans with TENCEL or regular ol’ cotton sweatpants?
Tricia: My early days during the pandemic were spent in jeans. Nothing beats a good pair of jeans that you just want to wear over and over again. In a time of uncertainty, they brought comfort since they were broken into personal perfection.
Harney: We know you’re a tea fan, that you enjoy stopping by our SoHo store from time to time and have been known to throw some Harney sachets in your luggage when you travel! What kind of teas do you enjoy? Any tea rituals or “I must have tea now” moments in your day?
Tricia: Ever since high school, I have been a tea fan. It was common during every meal in my house with Mom having black tea with milk and Dad with lemon. The rituals continue today, and whenever my parents visit New York City, Harney & Sons SoHo Tea Café is on this list of places to visit. What we share in common is more than just a big cup of tea. Hearing the kettle whistle on their stove always means it’s time to sit down and chat. It’s the conversations and connection that happens over a warm cup. Actually, it was my parents who first introduced me to Harney & Sons tea when they “discovered” it. Now we have conversations about Mike’s videos and the latest catalogues.
Whenever traveling, I always bring sachets of Earl Grey and Hot Cinnamon Spice. It is a taste of home and brings me comfort when I’m away. I still lean towards black teas from my upbringing. When I need to tackle a big project I take my Harney teapot and brew one just for myself. Some of my tea rituals include Organic Earl Grey in the morning to get my energy going. In the afternoon something a little sweeter like Bee’s Knees and by evening I like Vanilla tea with soy milk before bedtime. Something about the warmth puts my mind at ease.
Harney: Do you have any favorite flavors or types of Harney & Sons tea or anything on your list you’ve been wanting to try?
Tricia: With the cooler fall days, I brought out my Hot Cinnamon Spice sachets. A summer favorite is, of course, the Indigo Punch. I also want to try the Golden Monkey with the mix of fruit and nut flavors. It’s always fun to test in the Harney & Sons SoHo tea shop and find some new flavors.
The mix of teas is similar to a mix of fibers in the perfect pair of jeans. And once you find the right one, you just keep coming back over and over again. It’s the little things that make life good.
Want to know more about the fashion industry and all things denim? Thanks to Tricia, you can! Check out the Carved in Blue website and Instagram page for some fascinating behind-the-scenes info – if fashion is your cup of tea, you’ll be glad you did (and make sure you have a cuppa handy when you do!). Thanks so much to Tricia for her time and willingness to share her work with us. All photography was provided by Tricia.