SOUTHINGTON – Rachel DeCavage founded her clothing brand business in Southington and is now moving her screen printing operations to the city.
DeCavage moves to another store in Middletown and moves the manufacturing side of their business to 115 Water St., an industrial building from her father-in-law.
Cinder + Salt produces clothing and accessories in a zero-waste print shop. According to DeCavage, the brand is reminiscent of time in nature, around the campfire or on the beach, but is also committed to environmentally friendly practices. Screen printing can be a wasteful process that creates a lot of plastic tape. However, DeCavage found a way to use a paper-based product and then convert that used tape into art sculptures.
“We haven’t thrown anything in a bin since 2017,” she said.
DeCavage, a resident of Bristol, was considering a different location earlier this year.
The pandemic and the need to cut overheads caused them to find a smaller location to run their retail operations and not use retail space for production.
She uses the screen printing machine and inks that she bought from her father. That equipment, which she has been using since she was ten, is moving to an empty room in the Water Street building in Southington this week.
“We’ve been doing renovations every weekend since March,” DeCavage said.
In early November, she will move the Cinder + Salt store to 195 Main St. in Middletown. The store is located at 520 Main St. and will remain open until the move.
The Southington location doesn’t have a retail component, but customers can pick up their orders at Water Street once they’re up and running.
DeCavage’s first store, Sugarplum USA, was located at 98 Main St. Most of what she sold, apparel, decor, and apparel, was handcrafted. She closed the store in 2014 when her lease expired.
“I figured out what worked and what didn’t,” DeCavage said. “I decided to optimize the screen printing and focus on it instead of sewing everything by hand.”
Dorie Conlon Perugini, a Southington resident, has been a supporter of the DeCavage business since they opened Sugarplum.
The nature-inspired designs suit her style, said Conlon Perugini, and she can support a local company that shares similar values.
“I can support a company that is environmentally friendly and is committed to many causes that are close to my heart,” said Conlon Perugini.
Brick and mortar
Cinder + Salt online sales spiked in April when everyone was home, DeCavage said. Online and in-store sales balanced out, but she noticed that in-store people tend to spend more.
“I think there is a desire for people to support their local businesses,” she said. “I hope that stays that way.”
DeCavage wants to keep a physical location that is required for some environmental initiatives and show customers what Cinder + Salt is all about.
“I know brick and mortar stores are dying, but I love shopping and small businesses,” she said. “A lot of what we do we need a store front … That will always be very important to us.”