Women model Sarah Parker’s handmade sustainable clothing. Credit: Courtesy of Sarah Parker

Born a triplet, Sarah Parker knew she needed a way to differentiate herself early in her life. With the help of her aunt and grandmother, she did just that.

The two began to teach Parker how to sew clothes in 2006. Now, she designs and makes clothing for herself and others that promote a positive body image and environmental sustainability.  

“Fashion is the purest form of self-expression,” said Parker, a first-year student in environmental science and fashion retail studies.

She said she uses a wide range of materials to design her clothes.

“I use fabric, but because I try to stay sustainable and I’m on a college budget, I’ve even used old office chairs to make clothes,” Parker said.

She said her passion for sustainability and body positivity stem from the damage that the fashion industry has done to the environment and people’s self-image. For example, Parker focuses on the toxins released into the environment during clothing production, as well as the amount of water it takes to make clothing –– 2,700 liters per cotton t-shirt, according to www.worldwildlife.org.

“Fashion should be used as a tool to help people, and I don’t see why it can’t,” Parker said.

Kelsie Parker, a first-year in public affairs and Sarah’s sister, described Sarah as a fixer with a desire to help others. That was evident when Parker made prom dresses for girls at her high school who either could not afford one or could not find anything that made them feel secure in their bodies.

Sarah said she wants to own a fashion company that focuses on sustainability and body positivity.

“I know my goals are very high, but I am taking steps to help me get to that point,” she said.

One step she has already taken is her involvement with two student organizations on campus: Project Hope and the Fashion Production Association.

The Fashion Production Association is a campus group that helps students display their abilities in fashion, particularly through their annual fashion show. Project Hope creates clothing that will be donated to people in Haiti.

In the future, Sarah’s talent in design and her passion for helping others will go beyond the fashion industry, her sister said.

“I definitely see her becoming a fashion designer, but I can’t see her stopping there,” Kelsie said. “I also see her working for a nonprofit organization or something that gives back to the community.”