In addition to the many ways she contributes to the Park Scholarships program, Graduate Assistant Alexa DeFalco recently launched a business focused on sustainable clothing. Meredith Gaskill ’24 recently caught up with Alexa to discuss how her NC State experience inspired this new venture.
Meredith Gaskill: Hi, Alexa! Can you tell me about your role on the Park Scholarships staff?
Alexa DeFalco: Hi there! As the graduate assistant for the Park Scholarships program, I assist with a wide variety of engagement and enrichment programs including Freshman Retreat and Senior Retreat, Learning Lab I and II, and freshman seminar.
Meredith: How did you end up working for the Park Scholarships program?
Alexa: Originally born in upstate New York, I moved to Raleigh, NC in the fourth grade. I attended NC State as an undergrad and studied general education, nonprofit studies. During this time, I had the honor of being a Caldwell Fellow, another unique scholarship opportunity at NC State. Through the Caldwell Fellows program, I was exposed to meaningful self-reflection, global engagement, conscientious servant-leadership, and my love for working in scholarship programs.
After graduating in 2020, I decided I wasn’t quite done with my Wolfpack. I am working on my master’s in higher education administration here at State. When I’m not balancing school and work, you can find me practicing yoga, walking around downtown Raleigh with my partner or friends, snuggling up with a great book, or working with Our Wave, a local nonprofit that fights for survivors of sexual violence. I’ve also been working hard on my new business, Gaia’s Closet!
Meredith: Tell me more about Gaia’s Closet.
Alexa: Named after the Greek goddess of Earth, I created Gaia’s Closet with my roommate, Madison. Together, we make upcycled and reworked clothing. Our goals for Gaia are threefold. First, we hope to encourage sustainable and ethical shopping among consumers. Next, we hope to empower people in clothes that make them feel comfortable and confident. Finally, we hope to give back to our community by sourcing items from charity thrift stores and giving a portion of proceeds back to nonprofits across the state.
We have our very first pop-up market this Friday, at 1053 E Whitaker Mill Road. We are really excited to show off all of our hard work! Best of all, a portion of the proceeds from the market will go back to Our Wave, another organization near and dear to my heart.
Meredith: Why was it important to you that Gaia’s Closet incorporates sustainability? As a student in the Wilson College of Textiles, I have learned about the importance of sustainability in the textile industry through many classes and student groups like the Greater Good Textile Group and the Sustainability Stewards. I’m curious how your NC State education might have played a role in cultivating this value for you.
Alexa: I’ve loved fashion for as long as I can remember; beautiful clothes help me feel confident! But the more research I did on fast fashion and the fashion industry in general, the more disheartened I became. Some estimates report that the fashion industry is the second-largest polluter in the world. I wanted to create Gaia’s Closet to provide a sustainable and ethical clothing option for other people who feel like me. We all need to shop for Mother Earth!
I think my education at NC State absolutely played a role in cultivating my passion for sustainability. From compost options at dining halls, to reclaimed water in the restrooms at the library, sustainability seemed to be all around me during my time at State. In fact, NC State was just named number 18 on the Princeton Reviews Green College List. How cool is that!
Meredith: As a Park Scholar in the Class of 2024, one of the most valuable aspects of the program for me so far has been having the support system of staff and faculty that truly care so much about each and every one of us. With that being said, I was wondering what your favorite aspect of working for the Park Scholarships program has been so far.
Alexa: My favorite aspect of the Park Scholarships program has been working with you and your peers, Meredith! I absolutely love working with the Park Scholars and I am always inspired by your passion, drive, and dedication to making the world a better place. In fact, I believe that all of the amazing Park Scholars are a large reason why I felt I could start Gaia’s Closet. As I saw you all experimenting, taking risks, and creating new businesses and nonprofits, I began to believe that was something that I could do too! I’m so thankful for my experience with the Park program thus far, and will certainly carry the lessons with me as I continue to take on new endeavors like Gaia’s Closet!