Zero-Waste Zone

Designer Chelsea Lensing.
Designer Chelsea Lensing.

Clothing designer Chelsea Lensing is taking her denim and chambray line to new heights with new materials and a sustainable end-goal

Chelsea Lensing learned how to sew at a young age while living on a farm in Hermann, Mo., but it wasn’t until 2014 that her skills enabled her to launch her own line of clothing. What started as a blog and side hobby is now a full-fledged label sold in local boutiques and online.

KCS: How did you evolve from a blogger to a business owner and designer?

CL: I worked retail and had so much excess that I didn’t wear anymore, and I asked myself, “How can I give new life to this?” So I started cutting up stuff and making myself new things that I wanted to wear. I didn’t go into this thinking, “I’m going to start a business.” I just started making things and posting them to my Instagram. From there, shop owners contacted me, asking if I wanted to sell my pieces. That pushed me and has given me confidence.

KCS: What can customers expect from your designs?

CL: Most of my designs are pretty simple. I’m not going to be the person you turn to if you’re looking for something over-the-top. I really want to keep my designs simple and timeless, so not only are they made from organic, all-natural materials, but they’re also something that can last a lifetime. I really focus on that, so I try not to think about someone who is my age.

KCS: What encouraged you to make zero-waste a part of your mission?

CL: Working in the denim industry and seeing all the waste inspired me to have a sustainable business and spread the word. When I first started out, I was making a ton of each style, but that turned out to be super wasteful. I think it’s becoming more known now, but I think a lot of people who don’t work in the fashion industry are unaware of how much of an impact fashion is having in a negative manner. Kansas City is great because a lot of my generation here is aware of it and wants to support others.

KCS: You originally only sold denim and chambray pieces but have decided to branch out. What inspired the change?

CL: I felt trapped by the denim and chambray aspect and I really wanted to explore other avenues. I really want this to be a zero-waste business, and what I’ve experienced is you have to make those types of things cool for people to care about them. I want to be able to do my part but still be able to be a maker, so now I’m sewing more using linen, cotton and Tencel, which is a fiber-based product. All of them can be composted.

Seeds to Sew

LensingChelsea_28_ALLensing’s passion for sustainability has resulted in a new creation: a series of pods made from ground-up fabric scraps and filled with seeds that can be planted directly into the ground.

“I had been thinking for awhile about what to do with the scraps—about how they could be given directly back to the earth,” Lensing says.

Customers can purchase the pods on Lensing’s website, along with her one-of-a-kind pieces that include wrap tops, bento bags and wall hangings.

“It’s really exciting to me, knowing I’m taking care of things on my end and now my customers can, too,” Lensing says.