Alumna Spotlight: Caroline Skelton Priebe

Caroline Skelton Priebe is driven to design and manufacture luxury sustainable fashions that break down the existing stigma related to environmentally conscious and organically grown products. She also wishes to create a contemporary business model that will inspire others.

Priebe has already established herself as an inspired entrepreneur who promotes her designs via her online knitwear company, ULURU. According to her designer statement, she believes “clothing speaks your identity and that your identity should be yours; fluid not fickle, and definitely not defined by a label. There is space in my garments for women to interpret, move, accessorize, layer, and wear.”

ULURU has been featured in such high-profile magazines as Harper’s Bazaar, Lucky, Vogue, and New York magazine.

Priebe chose California College of the Arts because the facilities and faculty impressed her. She felt a particular connection with CCA Fashion Design Program faculty member Lynda Grose, who also designs socially and environmentally advanced clothing and textiles.

Priebe was drawn to CCA’s San Francisco campus, eager to remove herself from the corporate fashion trends of New York and engage in a smaller, more progressive fashion program.

She remembers a particular CCA conceptual design class, which stands out as one of her favorites. “I came from such a pragmatic background and this was the class that really inspired me to design beyond the obvious.” Such classes inspired Priebe to find unique things, such as acupuncture, and apply it to her garment making.

Priebe reveals her most outstanding achievement to date is her fall 2009 sustainable wovens collection and show. “I’m not sure how I am still standing,” she confesses, as she describes the amount of work it required to put together the collection. She realizes she is taking on a Herculean effort in trying to shape the perceptions of a firmly established multibillion-dollar industry, and her goals and desires remain clear: “I wish for partners (from mill to retail outlet) in mobilizing the powerful force of retail fashion to accelerate the effort towards social and economic justice, eco-preservation and enhancement.”

Priebe is currently working on honeycomb-inspired recycled cotton totes with fellow sustainable designer Alabama Chanin. The totes will be sold in July at a pop-up shop within Earnest Sewn in New York. The show was put together by friends Derrick Cruz of Black Sheep and Prodigal Sons to heighten awareness about colony-collapse disorder among the bee population.

When asked what’s next, this innovative and inspired CCA alumna encourages folks to “stay tuned.”

Born in 1977 in Milwaukee, WI

CCA degree:BFA 2003, Fashion Design

Other education:BS, Business, Indiana University—Kelley School of Business

Residence:Brooklyn, NY

Current occupation:Fashion designer, owner, ULURU

Influences at CCA:Lynda Grose