Student to merge faith, fashion

Catherine Cotton works on a project on Tuesday, February 11, 2014 in the Mary Gibbs Jones Family and Consumer Sciences Building.     Travis Taylor | Lariat Photo Editor
Catherine Cotton works on a project on Tuesday, February 11, 2014 in the Mary Gibbs Jones Family and Consumer Sciences Building.
Travis Taylor | Lariat Photo Editor

By Jessica Abbey

One Baylor student, who began selling her own fashion products in high school, has big plans to use faith in her future fashion career.

Houston senior Catherine Cotton, an apparel design major, has loved fashion since her mother taught her how to sew when she was 8 years old. Now Cotton’s products are sold at Harts ‘N Crafts through her business called Pure Cotton.

She began her fashion career her junior year of high school when she started her own business selling shirts to her friends and on Etsy her senior year. These are some of the same products that she now sells on campus. Before coming to college, Cotton watched a lot of “What Not to Wear,” which inspired her to pursue a major in apparel design. She said she loved the transformation she saw on both the exterior and interior of people on the show.

“I got inspired by how clothing could change someone’s outlook,” Cotton said.

Cotton said she experienced this firsthand when she worked at Anthropologie over the summer as a sales associate. She said she could see the way she helped people with their self-esteem when she found an outfit that looked great on them.

Cotton said she wants to make everyone feel important and beautiful in their skin through their fashion choices.

Jayne Fader, senior lecturer in the department of family and consumer sciences, said Cotton’s strength is in creating clothing products. She said she believes Cotton will continue to be successful.
“I know she will do well wherever she goes because she works well with people,” Fader said.

After Baylor, Cotton said she would like to own a store where she can sell her designs and teach others how to sew.

She said she comes from an entrepreneurial family, so her dream of owning a store will fit right in. Her mother sold hand-painted crafts, her father does woodworking on the side and her older twin brothers have created a business around their viral YouTube account, Dude Perfect.

Littleton, Colo., senior Claire Briggs has known Cotton for 19 years and has seen her grow and transform fashion skills throughout high school and college.

“The most influential thing I see in Catherine is the way she loves on people,” said Briggs. “She uses the gifts she is given to glorify God,” Briggs said.

This is exactly what Cotton plans to do. She said she wants to combine fashion and her faith.

Cotton said she is well aware of the stigma fashion has for making women feel inferior to the Photoshopped ads and thin models.

“By being a part of the fashion industry I can be a tool to change those opinions,” Cotton said.
Cotton said she believes by creating clothing for all types of people, she can alter the stereotype that all women need to look a certain way.

“She has learned to use her skills and gifts to really impact those around her,” Briggs said.

She wants to help women dress to their body so they will focus more on their assets instead of their problems, like what happens on “What Not to Wear.”

“We are God’s masterpiece,” Cotton said.

She said she believes through fashion people can honor the body God gave them and boost their confidence at the same time.

“My desire to make women feel beautiful is to make them realize how much God loves them and how he wants us to honor and respect our bodies and be thankful for the body He has given us,” said Cotton.

Over the summer Cotton is going to Philadelphia to help pursue her dream of being in the fashion industry as an intern at Anthropologie by working specifically with their wedding collection, BHLDN. Anthropologie is a part of the same company that heads Urban Outfitters.

The main page for the BHLDN brand states, “We’re confident that our assortment has something for every bride.”

This idea aligns with Catherine’s belief in dressing for any body type. She said Anthropologie has always been one of her favorite companies.

“It’s very unique, and they think outside the box,” Cotton said. “I love their creativity and I think I can learn a lot about what I want to do in the future for my career.”

Cotton said Anthropologie’s style inspires her creativity in her own work. Cotton said she likes the way the company’s designs combine modern trends with a vintage style.

“It feels like you’re going into a really cool antique store with one-of-a-kind pieces,” Cotton said.

Cotton’s own designs use unique textures and detailed embellishments to create something she thinks is original.

Briggs said she thinks the internship will be a springboard for Cotton’s career.
“My hope for her is that it will encourage her to be bold and be confident,” Briggs said.

Overall, Briggs said she sees bright things in Cotton’s immediate future.
“Whether it’s fashion or something else, I want to follow [God] the rest of my life,” Cotton said.