We teamed up with artist, designer, and upcycler Nicole McLaughlin to create a one-of-one outfit made from samples, unsellable returns, and damaged Rumpl products, and we're giving this set away on Rumpl.com. In addition to partnering with Nicole, we’re donating $10,000 to WeGotNext, a nonprofit that promotes diversity in the outdoors.
We caught up with Nicole to learn more about her journey as an artist and what her ultimate goal is for creating these unique, one-of-one pieces.
Who is Nicole McLaughlin?
A cheesy popcorn lover. A wall climber. A nature observer. A designer focused on sustainability.
Your focus has been on taking existing materials to create something new. How have your technical skills as a designer developed over the past couple years?
When I started on this journey, it was me and a hot glue gun. As time went on my skills improved. I have a lot of machinery at the studio nowadays, but my glue gun is still by my side.
How do the outdoors inspire your work? What are some of your favorite places to go in or around New York City?
Growing up exposed to the outdoors made me aware of sustainability from an early age. It’s a constant source of inspiration to me now. In New York, I love walking around, going to parks, and climbing at my outdoor gym. Everything about the city inspires me, even its trash.
What designers, brands, or people inspire you?
I think anyone who’s making a conscious decision to do better and be better is pretty inspiring. I’m a big fan of outdoor brands and those who focus on making clothing/goods that last.
Now, to the product. What did you love most about creating this Rumpl piece? Where did you start?
The materials dictated a lot of my ideas. The stuff sacks are so iconic to Rumpl that I wanted to highlight them. Visually, they were reminiscent of floatation devices so I wanted to highlight that, but also keep it as functional as possible, retaining access to all the blankets. The shorts utilized all the excess material so there was no waste but also complimented the vest through color pattern and functionality with maximum storage.
In 2021, it seems like every brand has some focus on sustainability. Why is it critical that companies continue to double-down on their efforts?
We really need to address what sustainability is rather than what brands want it to be to suit their needs. We need to see circularity being properly implemented, we need to see less waste, and we need to change the way products are viewed and consumed. The responsibility seems to be all on consumers rather than these huge companies that are responsible for 90% of carbon emissions. Where’s the balance? We need to preserve and push forward and pressure these companies to change.
What can people do in their everyday purchasing decisions to think about long-term effects of that purchase?
It starts from, do I really need it versus want it? Consumer habits are difficult to change and navigate. People really approach buying from so many personal POVs. The day, the time, it all has an effect. But ultimately, we need to start by buying less.
We love that you’ve partnered with brands and designers to drive awareness to nonprofits. We’re raffling off this Rumpl piece with proceeds going to WeGotNext. Why is supporting nonprofits important to you?
As someone who’s trying to start my own nonprofit, I understand how important funding is to its survival and growth. The fact that nonprofits aren’t supported year round or have partnerships with brands doesn’t make sense. Why isn’t this a part of normal brand policy? Feels like a no-brainer when you’re supporting something that benefits people from all walks of life and uplifts a community.
"I think anyone who’s making a conscious decision to do better and be better is pretty inspiring."
Where is Nicole McLaughlin in 3-5 years?
Probably on the floor, surrounded by scraps, trying to find ways to upcycle something completely obscure into a functional piece, with a podcast blasting and my water bottle close by.
Sports or clubs in high school? What was your favorite?
What's your favorite thing to cook at home?
What's your favorite board game?
What's something you're secretly super good at that no one knows about?
Go Karting. I only did it a couple of times, but apparently, I have a knack and am very speedy.
What's a new skill or hobby you want to get into?