Alumni Spotlight: Emily Neville, CEO of Reborn Clothing Co.
The University Honors and Scholars Program Student Media Team recently caught up with alumna Emily Neville to learn more about the amazing work she is doing with her company, Reborn Clothing Co., as it expands its footprint in the Triangle area. Reborn Clothing Co. “works with top brands and institutions to transform surplus branded apparel and textile waste with reliable upcycling, downcycling, and corporate gifting solutions” (https://rebornclothing.co/about/). The have worked to help keep textile waste and unwanted clothing out of landfills and transformed them into useful and fashionable products. They recently opened their storefront in Raleigh! Madison Mueller, one of our Student Media Team members, sat down with Emily to learn more about how Reborn was started and where they are headed.
MM: Emily, thank you for taking the time to meet with me today. Let’s just get started. What inspired you to start Reborn?
EN: I started Reborn my second year at NC State after realizing the gap in the fashion industry for sustainable textiles. I merged my knowledge of upcycling from creations I made as a kid with my desire to purchase sustainable products and apparel in our everyday marketplace. Our goal with upcycling as the solution was to use existing materials, even from our own closets, thereby lowering the overall cost of production and making sustainability accessible for everyone!
MM: That’s super cool. People often overlook all that waste that unwanted clothes create. Tell me about an experience during your time as a student at NC State that best prepared you for your current role?
EN: During college, I started the first Boys & Girls Club in my hometown. While starting a company has been very different, I got a taste for what it felt like to build something from scratch and I was hooked.
MM: I can see how starting something so impactful like that would boost your motivation to start other big projects. During your time leading Reborn, what accomplishment are you most proud of?
EN: Being in business now for 3-plus years, I have seen many team members grow both personally and professionally as a result of the challenges we are presented every day by being in something so new and untested in the marketplace. I’ve also grown significantly as a leader and business owner, so I’d say that the growth that this startup brings in each of our lives is really exciting. Of course, I’m also proud of all of the partnerships we’ve developed, thousands of pounds of waste diverted from landfills, opening a store in North Hills, and so on — but all of this has really pushed my team and me, and that result is what has made me the most proud.
MM: What advice would you give to current NC State students interested in entrepreneurship?
EN: Take calculated risks. Many entrepreneurs will tell you to just get started, or “what do you have to lose?” but I would encourage any young, first-founder to test your idea before taking the leap. Look at the competition, the capital you will need to get started and eventually, hopefully, become profitable, and your long-term goals for the business. If the potential benefit or upside outweighs the cost, then get comfortable with the fact that you’ll never be truly ready and you have to take risks and overcome your desire for perfection with any startup.
MM: YES! That perfection monster can be so difficult to shake off. How do you hope to see Reborn grow over the next year?
EN: I am really excited about potential growth in the retail space as well as our partnerships. We recently completed a partnership with Raleigh Denim, and have also partnered with Alfred Williams, Delta Airlines, 321 Coffee, and so on over the past few months, and I’m excited to see those partnerships grow and expand into new ones over the next year.
MM: That’s super cool! We actually have an interview with Lindsay Wrege of 321 Coffee coming soon as well. So to close things up for us, we have to know, what is your favorite Howling Cow ice cream flavor?
EN: Campfire Delight!
This post was originally published in DASA.