By Emily Merrell
I’ve never enjoyed my work attire more than I have during Shelter in Place. I’ve really leaned into workout pants and sweatshirts, relishing feeling cozy while working. I was thrilled to be introduced to Devan Nichols of Contour Creative and inspired to up my comfy game with her handstamped hoodies. Next time you’re stocking up on your work essentials, check out this sustainable small business.
SDS: With everyone living in “comfy” clothes right now, it’s the perfect time to put on one of Contour Creative’s many hoodies. All of your products are handstamped too! What inspired you to create a comfortable, cozy and artistic brand?
DEVAN NICHOLS: Many of my childhood memories of shopping were negative: popular clothes didn’t fit who I was on the outside or inside. Even though I’m not much of a *fashionista* at heart, a long-lasting dream to print on clothing grew stronger as I grew up. Most of the *cool* graphic tee brands I liked either didn’t fit my body right, couldn’t hold up to my need for durability, or didn’t express who I was as a person. So I decided to make clothes that made me feel good, confident and could join me for life’s adventures. Come to find out, I wasn’t the only one with those needs!
SDS: What inspires you to create the designs of the apparel?
DN: Definitely my love for nature. The outdoors is a place I’ve found and witnessed healing – transforming my and others’ lives. With our fast-paced world driven by technology and noise, there’s something profound about stepping into the untamed wild and reconnecting to our most honest selves. From the beginning, I’ve used minimal words or underlying messages in my art because the rawness of creation transcends many of our earthly problems: it is the great equalizer!
SDS: When shopping, there are so many options out there. For those hoping to shop more sustainably, what are some indicators of “sustainable” products?
DN: Oh man, this is a huge topic with hours worth of discussion and I am certainly not an expert – I’m on a learning journey myself with you all. The biggest thing I warn people about is what is commonly referred to as “greenwashing.” If you go to a trendy trade show, everything is centered around sustainability. This is all very good and I’m thankful that our awareness is growing. However, many of these companies use it for marketing and marketing only, just to check the “eco” box.
My personal priorities lie in valuing the people behind the product. If a tee shirt is made of recycled plastic bottles, but is sewn together by someone who had to give up their children because they couldn’t afford to feed them and has to sleep on the factory floor for lack of shelter, then we have failed the planet. When we take care of humankind so they can be educated, give back to their communities and raise healthy families, then our planet can only thrive.
SDS: Part of Contour Creative’s mission says: “We create clothes that express who you are on the inside to empower you to be a positive change, we create goods for difference makers”. What does a difference maker mean to you?
DN: This is such a good question! As we all have learned in recent days, our communities are hurting and need strong leaders filled with hope and love. It doesn’t matter if your life’s calling is to fight the sex trafficking industry or to raise your children to be good citizens: everyone has opportunity to be a difference maker in someone else’s life. It looks different for everyone.
What I’ve found is that we need to feel confident in our skin first before we can empower others. Clothing is a simple step in that process. If I’m wearing something I feel self-conscious in, I’m consumed with myself and am hindered from loving the people around me to the fullest. Contour’s mission grew after asking repeat customers why in the world they keep coming back? It was consistent around the board: our clothing brings the freedom to move toward the person you were made to be.
SDS: During shelter in place, did you have any routines or habits that kept you inspired?
DN: It was definitely easier to keep up with all the things that come with being a solo-preneur like emails, bookkeeping and planning. After getting a library card, I started devouring audiobooks on my daily walks. It’s been so fun to learn and grow through many knowledgeable folks who have gone before. I don’t feel guilty if they aren’t my style because I’m not paying for it, hah!
SDS: Lastly, what is your favorite piece on the website and why?
DN: Ohhhh man, that’s a tough one. Right now, I’m pretty obsessed with the Mountain Wash Sweatshirt. Everything about it is comfy, but it also feels super feminine which doesn’t happen often with a cozy sweatshirt. I selfishly wore the blank sample for months before actually stamping on it and finally realized the world needed to enjoy it too! Customers have raved about it, so my hope is to do more colors and prints in that style here soon.