Local Love: Rachel DeCavage of Cinder + Salt

Local Love Cinder-Salt feature via @poorandpretty

Welcome to the second Local Love post, where I interview my favorite Connecticut creators. Missed out on the first one? Go back and read my interview with Brittany Morgan, the sassy hand lettering latté and confetti addict behind Glitter & Bold.

Every entrepreneur has a fellow entrepreneur (or a few) they aspire to be — someone who’s a little further along the path, who you look to for advice during those (frequent) moments of self-doubt. While I admire all of my fellow boss babes, Cinder + Salt‘s Rachel DeCavage is kind of my Fairy Bossmother. (She’s going to hate that.) Rachel and I met at a craft fair in 2011 and became fast friends, working together on lots of collaborations along the way.

Local Love Cinder + Salt

Rachel is confident and fearless when it comes to her business, Cinder + Salt (previously sugarplumUSA), her line of low-impact clothing, accessories, and housewares. You might’ve seen me wearing her Dreamcatcher Tank or remember my post about her #LikeABoss Collection. Her hand-drawn designs are uniquely hers, and each t-shirt, sweater, and necktie is screen printed by hand in her East Hartford studio. Cinder + Salt is inspired by the residue of a weekend well spent; the scent of campfire on your clothes and the taste of salt water on your skin.

{ Octopus Tank }

Sami: When did you start making?
Rachel: I’ve always been someone who makes things… I get it from my grandma, I suppose, who taught my sisters and I how to hook rugs when we were like 3 years old. I was using a thread and needle before I knew how to write. Spending my life working with fibers, in many different formats, and growing up alongside my dad’s commercial printing business seems to have very neatly defined my career path.

cinder and salt booth
{ Cinder + Salt booth }

Sami: What’s your favorite thing about being a creative entrepreneur?
Rachel: The only person I have to answer to is myself. And I’m not talking about, “yay I only have to work 3 hours today because I’m my own boss!’ Any entrepreneur can tell you that answering to yourself is the most challenging, but rewarding thing ever. Did sales suck this month, you lose a big account? What are you gonna do about it? Close up shop and go work at a grocery store? Or are you gonna take a hard look at your business, figure out what works, what doesn’t, and move forward? It’s invigorating and empowering to constantly have to push yourself further and further out of your comfort zone.

cinder and salt toasting in tanks
{ Crab Tank and Seagull Tank }

Sami: What feeds your creative energy?
Rachel: Vodka.

Sami: How do you combat creative block?
Rachel: Vodka.

All jokes aside, I have literally never had creative block. I have too many ideas and not enough time in the day to bring them to life. My creativity stems mostly from nature, wildlife and the environment around me. If I’m working on a custom project and can’t get jazzed about it, I take it as a sign and just walk away from it. If you’re not immediately engaged with a project, it’s not the right fit for you.

integrity sexy tees cinder and salt
{ Integrity Tee and Sexy White Tee }

Sami: What’s your mantra?
Rachel: A quote from The Lorax that guides me every day, “Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing’s going to get better, it’s not.”

{ Thunderbird Boatneck Pullover }

Sami: What do you do to relax?
Rachel: ???!!! On the rare day off, I drink coffee on the porch and watch my cat hunt bugs. Then I schedule meetings, think about launching my next collection, get stressed because I don’t know how to relax and end up taking a 3 hour nap. Naps are usually followed by an alcoholic beverage, guilt over not being productive and then spending 3 hours in my studio being blissful because I’m happiest when I’m working on things.

girls kids tees cinder and salt

{ Girls Feather Tee and Girls Orca Tee }

Sami: What’s your one piece of advice for creative entrepreneurs?
Rachel: “You only live once.” For a long time I felt like that was a call to live life to its fullest, be adventurous, speak your mind! (Omg remember when “YOLO” wasn’t a thing? That’s when I used to say this all the time to myself.) But now I feel like it’s more of a responsibility; you have one life to make an impact — what is your cause, your purpose? How are you gonna make it happen?

{ Eat Local Long Sleeve Tee and Canoe + Oars Slouchy Pullover }

Sami: What’s your favorite CT restaurant?
Rachel: I’m a big fan of 116 Crown in New Haven. I love how their drink menu is arranged; I usually order from the ‘subtle and aromatic’ section.

Sami: What book is on your nightstand?
Rachel: Small Giants by Bo Burlingham – an easy read about businesses who put purpose before profit and have a huge impact. I refer back to it frequently.

Sami: If you could invite 3 people (alive or dead) over for a picnic, who would you invite?
Rachel: Jack Johnson. Steve Zissou. My lover, Adam.

{ Whaleshark Organic Cotton Tee }

Sami: If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go? Why?
Rachel: I’ve always wanted to go to Alaska in the winter to sleep on a frozen lake and watch the Northern Lights. Why? Because nature is amazing. I’d also love to go to the Seychelles Islands and swim with whale sharks – mostly because that’s in their migration route during January, the only month when I can afford time off.

Shop Cinder + Salt online or in person. Rachel is constantly on the move, booking shows throughout Connecticut and Massachusetts — check out her upcoming events. Need custom apparel? She does that too. She even hosts DIY screen printing workshops!


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