Emily Neville ’20 keeps old clothes out of the landfill by turning them into stylish, useful products for others.
By Ramona Dubose | NC State Alumni Magazine
Emily Neville ’20 majored in political science and minored in French. But she’s rocking the design and textile worlds with Reborn, her company that turns old clothes and scraps into fashionable keepsakes. “Everybody’s got things piled up in their closet that they aren’t going to wear anymore,” she says. “Those things don’t need to wind up in the landfill.”
Originally, Neville thought she would make a hobby of turning old T-shirts into blankets, pillowcases or other mementos. (She made pillowcases out of her high school T-shirts, for instance.) In her sophomore year at NC State, she decided to make Reborn her career. Today the company has 15 employees — five full-time and 10 part-time.
“Everybody’s got things piled up in their closet that they aren’t going to wear anymore. Those things don’t need to wind up in the landfill”.
“There’s not been a day in the last three years when I haven’t woken up excited to build my business,” she says. Reborn Clothing Co., based in Raleigh, makes products from outdated or excess textiles that would otherwise be trashed. Much of what the company makes are licensed products for universities — blankets, pom keychains, duffel bags, laptop sleeves, koozies and teddy bears, to name a few. Most of the products are sold in campus bookstores. A year ago, the company had products for three universities in North Carolina (including NC State). Today Reborn has licensing agreements with more than 70 universities. She has also teamed up with Sunbrella Fabrics to use excess material to make items like beach totes.
She’s raised more than $500,000 in financial backing, including $80,000 from the Wolfpack Investor Network. And Reborn still makes custom products out of old garments from the back of someone’s closet. One of Neville’s favorite projects during the COVID-19 quarantine was a baby blanket made for a young family from clothes their child had outgrown, including the outfit the baby wore home from the hospital.