Dolce and Gabbana? No. Wright and Carter

The next fashion trend may not come from Rag & Bone, Dolce and Gabbana, or DSquared, but instead may come from Wright and Carter.  Madeline Shownkeen, senior, and Reagan Wright have created their own fashion line, Wright and Carter, which they’ve been hard at work at. The name, taken from Regan’s last name and Madeline’s middle name, has been their brand for years, as they first started off their company with a jewelry line. The girls have partnered with Educate2Envision International, a charity that connects with student-run small business to drive economic development and promote education in rural communities, mainly in in Honduras. You can read more about the charity here.

Wright and Carter’s new collection comes out this Sunday. Advocate asked the designer pair about their beginnings and inspirations for their new line.

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Olivia Zowsky modeling Wright and Carter’s new line in New York City. The designs were sketched originally by Wright and Carter.

Q: Have you guys always been interested in fashion? What sparked your interest?

MS: I’ve always been interested in fashion. I didn’t know that it was something I wanted to pursue as a career in some facet or another, but I’ve always been interested.

RW: I feel like I’ve always liked dressing up.

Q: You guys started off with a jewelry line. Can you tell me a little bit about that? I know you had worked with a charity.

RW: We’re still working with the same charity, but we came up with an idea to create customized jewelry where you could snap in different stones.

There were a lot of challenges with that because it was out first entrepreneurial venture. It was our first time doing everything. As we were going along with the project, we kind of realized that we weren’t necessarily passionate enough for our product to be able to focus our whole company around it. So then that’s when we decided to use our profits from our jewelry line to switch over to apparel.

Q: How did you start the process of creating your fashion line? Who did you connect with to make that happen?

MS: Well first we had the idea of collaborating with designers because well, we don’t sketch, and we had no idea what we were doing. So our first thought was to make a connection with designers- like, young designers going into college. We used Instagram and Tumblr to try to find these people that were living in Chicago. We made a collection with Isabel Antic and we learned a lot from it. We realized that there were some challenging aspects too.

RW: Because you didn’t really have full control over the whole design aspect, so it was kind of frustrating.


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Olivia Zowsky modeling Wright and Carter’s new line in New York City. The line is inspired by the designers’ recent travels.

Q: And you have another collection coming out soon?

MS: Yes.  We can’t sew [laughs] so it took a long time to find a freelance sewer: someone who would take our ideas and actually put it to what we want it become. That took us a while to find. Her name’s Laura and she lives in Chicago.

Q: So you’re sketching your own stuff now?

Both: [laughs]

RW: Kind of. Yeah, this isn’t a collaboration, this is solely our designs.

MS: We went and told our sewer our ideas of the pieces and went to like, three different fabric stores trying to find the correct fabric, which was very important.

Q: What inspired your line?

MS: We’re inspired by travel, adventure. When we were starting this we wanted a specific vibe for our company, and we wanted that to reflect in our collection. So we have an idea of the “Wright and Carter Girl,” which is how we went about making our collection. So ambitious, adventurous, but also fun.

RW: We traveled together to Spain and Morocco this summer. Everything there was really colorful, they had a lot of different coins, which we incorporated into our clothes. That was something that inspired us.

MS: But we also want wearable pieces. Something that you can dress up or wear casually.

So we have an idea of the “Wright and Carter Girl,” which is how we went about making our collection

Q: And you’re still partnered with a charity?

MS: We are partnered with Educate2Envision. With every purchase made, part of the profit goes towards that organization.

SP: Where or what is the clothing going to be sold through?

MS: Just our website.

RW: And as we gauge the demand for different things, we’ll decide if we want to sell our clothes in boutiques or if we want to reach out to even bigger department stores once we get it launched.

Q: Do you spend a lot of time during the week working on this?

MS: Yes!

RW: Every day there’s something pretty much. There’s a lot of time going into it.

Q: Is your line something you guys have been profiting from?

RW: When you start any business, a lot of your profits are going directly back into the company, but I think if we stick with it, and it grows then it will definitely be something that we can use to support ourselves.

Q: What advice would you give to your peers wanting to start their own business?

RW: Know that it’s going to take a lot of work and overcoming a lot of obstacles that you don’t always see coming.

MS: And be passionate about it, and really want it because there are so many hurdles. Once you think you’ve made a breakthrough, there’s always something that can get you down. You need that passion to keep going.

Once you think you’ve made a breakthrough, there’s always something that can get you down. You need that passion to keep going.

RW: But it’s so fulfilling to keep going.

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To view Wright and Carter’s website, click here.

Follow them on Instagram: WRIGHTANDCARTER