Katrina Hillyer always wanted to be a fashion designer, but after spending time on a farm after college, she realized that her childhood passion for the environment could play a major role in her career. Now, she has formed two environmentally-conscious brands and is working to inspire others.

Some of the ideas for these brands have always been a part of Hillyer’s life. 

“I grew up watching my grandmother sew and she taught me how to draw and paint at a very young age.”

Hillyer started to dream about her future soon after. 

“I was always drawing dresses and gowns and it was something that I always wanted to do. I always wanted to be a fashion designer.” 

Hillyer knew that she wanted a career in fashion, so she went to college and started working for various designers to gain experience. 

She realized how important it was for the fashion industry to be more sustainable. 

“I was working on a farm when I was 22 or 23 years old, and that was when I realized that I wanted to start my own fashion company, but I wanted to also be environmentally friendly.” 

This aspiration came from Hillyer’s childhood passion for the environment. She learned to love it, like most kids, through her family, and through being taught about recycling and its importance at school. 

“I think in order for us to enjoy all of nature, we have to preserve it. For me, it’s my safe place. That’s why I want to be able to protect it for future generations.” 

Her decision on the farm set in motion her plan to make her two passions work together.

“Dixie clothing was the first [brand], and I started it while I was working on a farm. Having my hands in the dirt all the time, it just made me want to make clothes that would go back to the Earth.” 

Hillyer started upcycling and repurposing fabrics that would have ended up in the landfill to give them a second chance at life. 

 The success of Hillyer’s clothing brand sparked an interest in the zero-waste movement, so she started producing non-clothing products like cutlery and straws.

She didn’t feel like these products fit under the Dixie Clothing name, so she started a new company, Earth Warrior Lifestyle

“That’s how I came up with Earth Warrior. I figured the people who were going to buy from me were people who were warriors who wanted to protect this Earth.” 

Earth Warrior Lifestyle focuses on keeping their products and workspace zero-waste by repurposing all extra waste and composting what can’t be reused. The bottom line is that none of it ends up in the landfill. 

Hillyer has big dreams for Earth Warrior Lifestyle and Dixie Clothing, and believes that zero-waste is an attainable goal for everyone. 

“I’d love to see the clothing industry go zero- waste.”

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Editor: Monique LaBossiere | mlabossiere@cjournal.ca