Founded by Sanni Baumgärtner nearly 12 years ago, one of the local boutiques has spearheaded Athens’ sustainable fashion movement and has also supported local artists. This mission is a testament to the name Community.

Since its inception, Community has grown to support everything from making clothes from upcycled fabrics to teaching sewing classes. For Baumgartner, protecting the planet through small steps in fashion is her lifelong career.

“It’s part of my core values ​​of sustainability,” she said. “I think we need a sense that we are here for a purpose and that we are making an impact in the world that matters to us.”

Born in Germany and studying at the University of Georgia during his college years, Baumgärtner was initially inspired by his involvement in the supportive music scene Athens is known for, helping all things local.

Sanni Baumgaertner — the portrait sewing machine in the community boutique

Community owner Sanni Baumgärtner poses in front of a sewing machine at the store’s sewing station.

Baumgärtner, who played guitar, accordion and musical saw, said: .

Merging this idea into her business model, Baumgärtner now considers supporting UGA students who are passionate about fashion, as well as artists in Athens. One such student is Lillian Maple, a senior fashion merchandising major.

Maple is passionate about creating fashion pieces inspired by her unique taste and now has her own studio where she can design anything she wants.

“[Sustainable fashion] It’s a trend, and I think it’s really great that young people, especially, are interested in it,” Maple said. It doesn’t have to be mom’s clothes or flannel to be truly beautiful, thrifty and sustainable.”

It was The Red & Black that enabled the dynamic relationship between Maple and the Community. After her feature article on Maple was published in March 2022, Baumgärtner read her article and contacted her Maple in hopes of getting her as her vendor, which Maple agreed to. accepted.

Maple’s professional relationship with Community means she’s “more about where I get my fabrics, how I make my own, using all my scraps and making sure it doesn’t go to waste.” It helped me to be intentional, because I really want to stay true to their store’s mission.”

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Lillian Maple poses at her art studio in Athens, Georgia on August 6, 2022. (Photo/Sidney Chansamon, @sid.chansa)

So far Maple has released two batches of clothing on Community.

“I get so excited when I see someone wearing my clothes because it means a lot to everyone … It’s the environmental benefits plus the whole shopping and fashion experience. makes it more meaningful and personal,” Maple said.

As with businesses across the country, the COVID-19 pandemic has brought many challenges to stores. However, it was during this time that women in the community embarked on one of her biggest projects to date: creating cloth masks. Despite high demand, Community was able to carefully sew thousands of sustainable cloth face masks for the Athens community and local hospitals.

Baumgärtner has many hopes for the future of the Community, including supporting more UGA students, growing the boutique’s online store, shipping vintage pieces nationwide, and making shipping environmentally friendly. I have.

“Now that we are focused on growth, we can support the local economy more, create more jobs, redesign and recycle more materials, and have a greater impact in terms of sustainability. ,” says Baumgärtner.

As a future project, UGA students on campus can find Community’s creations in the cafeteria. They’ve partnered with shops to make tool pouches out of jeans legs.

“Sustainable fashion is accessible to everyone,” says Baumgartner. “It’s not just slow fashion, clothes handmade in America. It’s something that we should always try to support, but it means vintage clothes, second-hand clothes, it means changing clothes, and it’s not just about clothes in your own closet. It means shopping, redesigning, learning how to sew.There are so many ways to make sustainable fashion affordable.”

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