Women Who Seek: Carol Miltimore

The first time I traveled to India I was alone and in possession of a one-way ticket. I cried on the phone to my best friend the entire drive to the airport because I was so scared. I had dreamt of India since I was a teenager both for the colorful and spiritual wonder it represents as well as for the immense history of textiles and craft it embodies. I was headed there to work on my paintings as an artist in residence and then explore the country, as well as meet with various artisan groups. I could not have imagined when the journey began that it would lead me to starting a business.

The expedition included as many adventures as misadventures. I met people who have since become life long friends, learned more about myself and others, and discovered groups doing beautiful artisan-based work. I also ended up in several hospitals from a motorcycle accident and foolishly ate a water-based street snack from an unknown vender (Panipuri was the snack, but if you can get it from a trusted vendor then I’d encourage you to try it because it's delicious!). The first week I arrived in India I spent a few days staying with a friend's family in New Delhi. When it came time for me to leave Delhi, they gifted me a pair of silk pants. I became obsessed with how easy, comfortable and sophisticated these were. Before I left the country I put into work some samples of naturally dyed and block printed silk pants and tops. These samples became the foundation for Seek Collective’s aesthetic.

 

On that preliminary trip and the many that followed in the early years, I spent a great deal of time on the ground finding the best people and groups to work with, forming relationships with them, and fine-tuning the work. India is a land of extremes though... with every wonderful new connection and experience there's plenty of loneliness, reflection, questioning, and strong emotions as well. But when I sit with the right people and see the impact of the work, everything always feels worth it. For every technique I work with, I believe what matters most is working with the best suppliers in terms of skill, quality, environmental impact, and social responsibility. My goal has always been and continues to be creating beautiful, high quality, relevant garments that people feel good living their lives wearing while making sure the way they are made is as environmentally and socially responsible as possible. I’m constantly striving to improve in all of this…I’m constantly Seeking.

 

I’ve been dreaming of starting a blog for Seek Collective since I began the company. I want to share what goes into the making of Seek Collective, behind the scenes, and the community. It is very exciting to share Seek Stories with you all in 2019!

Seek Process will focus on delving deeper into highlighting various people, techniques, cooperatives and/or elements of the supply chain of Seek Collective and the apparel industry at large. My hope is it creates more transparency and understanding of a complex supply chain within one of the largest industries on the planet. Seek Journeys will feature specific places, trips, or voyages we can all live vicariously through and that might motivate us to book our next adventure. Travel reminds us that we are all connected to the same world - a challenging, messy, beautiful, and moving mix of humanity and nature. Women Who Seek will showcase people who inspire us with their stories, lessons learned, style, passions, and point of views. I’m kicking off the Women Who Seek series by answering some questions we will be asking others down the road.

~Carol

  1. What does it mean to you to be globally connected and when do you feel it most?

For me, the term globally connected means that we are all linked on this planet, with all people and creatures, as we share Earth and all it’s resources. It requires compassion for others and the realization that everything we do has a larger impact than we can see. I feel this the most either when I see the effect we as humans are having on nature or when I’m traveling far from home and see that no matter where someone is from, we all are trying our best in simply searching for love, family, health, and happiness.

  1. What’s your most valued travel advice you’ve been given or have to give? What has been your favorite journey so far?

My most valued travel advice is to get out there in the world even when it feels the most daunting and be open to learning and seeing how others live. I also think it’s important to at least once travel somewhere alone. I’ve always absorbed more and met more people when I’ve ventured out by myself. Traveling alone as a woman is a topic I have been asked about a lot. I tend to be far more cautious as a solo traveler in unknown places as safety is always a concern. It is often a fine line between taking precautions and remaining open to opportunities that arise. My advice is to stay aware of your surroundings, make smart decisions about where and when you’re going out, and to listen to your instincts.

I don’t think I could pick one favorite journey so far but one that stands out is one of the first times I did a trip alone to somewhere unknown. I was living in Paris at the time, circa 2005, and I had wanted to visit Antwerp, Belgium as a sort of fashion pilgrimage but I couldn’t find anyone to join me. I resolved to go it alone even though it was the dead of January so quite cold and grey. The night I arrived I was feeling intimidated but found the cutest candle-lit restaurant.  The entire dinner is still ingrained in my mind: fresh mussels with pommes frites, locally grown red wine, and the most silky and delicious chocolate mouse ever. I spent two days exploring the city and wandering streets as I visited museums, shops, cafes, and restaurants. I never felt lonely and came back to Paris feeling inspired, capable, and proud of myself.

 

  1. What do you wear to feel the most free and confident?

Pants and an easy silk top…more often than not, that translates to a Seek Collective silk shirt with jeans!

  1. How do you incorporate sustainability into your life?

There are a lot of ways we can all incorporate sustainability into our lives. I think it first requires researching, learning, and understanding how broad a term sustainability is. Recycling and composting are key and I do these every day. I avoid using plastic water bottles (always travel with a reusable one), I eat meat minimally, I buy organic/local produce whenever possible, and I investigate the sources of products I purchase. When it comes to clothing, I don’t buy any “fast fashion” and instead, if not wearing Seek Collective, then I support designers I know. Designers and brands that are transparent not just with their manufacturing location but also with their source and creation of all their materials. I also love vintage clothing and repairing clothing I already own to make it last longer (I still wear sweaters I’ve had since the 90’s!).

  1. What do you do or where do you go when you need to be inspired?

I either go to a museum to see art or I go on hike to be immersed in nature.

  1. How can women seek a sense of support and collectiveness for each other in the future?

I think the time we are living in now is proving to be a pivotal time for women to band together and have our voices heard, make changes in the world, and create more healthy dialogues. We can encourage each other to tell our stories, we can listen more to each other, we can stand up for other women when they need it, we can believe what women are saying, and we can support each other in our emotional lives and our work lives.

  1. Journey note: what are you seeking more of this year?

In 2019 I’m seeking more time for stillness and more time to playfully create art.

 

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