With so many catastrophes appearing in the news, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed and unable to make a meaningful impact as just one person. Global warming, fair trade, human and animal rights – there’s just so many causes to choose from. Fortunately, Westerly’s newest and most conscientious clothing and accessory store, Cahill & Co, is working to make the world a little better with your help!
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Anastasia and Cameron Cahill met in high school, while riding their shared school bus. Their similar taste in music led to a friendship, which led to a breakfast date on Valentine’s Day, which eventually led to a partnership in both marriage and business after settling in Westerly about seven years ago. “We just thought it was so cool here – we loved the downtown area, so we became involved in the community and starting growing our roots,” Anastasia said.
The couple were walking downtown one day in 2018 and saw that the old frame shop on the corner was still vacant and decided to reach out to the landlord to inquire about the space. Opening up a store had been a long-held dream for the couple, having both been influenced by their careers in retail and the outdoor industry.
“We wanted to open a consciously curated men’s clothing shop in downtown. At the time, there was no place to find casual men’s clothing, since Toscano’s is more formal, so we’re predominantly a men’s store but we carry some women’s clothing and accessories as well,” Cameron explained.
“We’re sort of the counterbalance to stores like Woodees, who primarily cater to women but also carry some options for men,” Anastasia added.
The landlord had been considering another tenant at the time, but he was so impressed with the pitch that he told them to get back to him within 48 hours with a more developed plan.
“We just sort of looked at each other and figured nothing ventured, nothing gained,” Anastasia said. “It might be really scary to take this leap and do this, but what are we going to be doing in twenty years? Sitting back and wishing that we had taken the risk? So we went for it and figured it out along the way. It’s been an incredible experience full of challenges, and we learn something new every day.”
Taking only six weeks to do the initial build-out, while simultaneously in the final stages of planning their wedding, Cahill & Company opened its doors in October of 2018.
Beyond its focus on men’s casual clothing, what really sets the store apart is its solid foundation in ethical clothing choices vs. supplying customers with what’s known as “fast fashion.” While fast fashion, inexpensive clothing produced rapidly by mass-market retailers, is an easy way to keep up with trends, it has its downsides – most importantly, its negative impact on the environment through its use of unsustainable materials, and on the underpaid workers who make them.
Cahill & Company’s mission is to make it easier for costumers to make better clothing choices by purchasing high quality, sustainably-made items that they’ll be able to wear for years, crafted by brands who are also trying to leave a positive impact on the environment and economy instead.
Cameron says it wasn’t hard to find enough brands that fit their mission to fill their store. Making conscious and ethical choices as a consumer is, fortunately, becoming more mainstream, and a plethora of different options are out there for anyone willing to pay a little more attention – and Anastasia and Cameron are certainly more than willing.
“It’s just as fun for us to shop for items as it is for the customers,” Anastasia said, regarding their process of selecting brands and items for the store.
Many of these items the couple had had personal experience with from their past retail work and had hanging in their own closets. “The outdoor industry tends to make quality apparel that’s made responsibly, is cool looking, and comfortable,” Anastasia said. The styles and purpose of the items may vary, and some are USA-made while others are not, but the one common denominator is that all of the brands you’ll find at Cahill & Company have to be doing good things for the world.
Inside the store, you’ll find items from independent clothing designers and craftspeople far and near, including a jewelry maker from Scituate, MA who makes engraved wooden pieces and then plants a tree for every piece, wallets made from recycled billboards, or fanny packs made out of scraps from the tent and backpack manufacturing process.
“These sorts of choices are a theme of our life, but we certainly don’t live the headiest ethical life out there, and we don’t expect people to only shop in stores like this. It’s not necessarily truly possible for everyone,” Cameron shared. But in opening their store, they are making it easier for local people to make choices and purchases that can have a positive personal and global impact.
“For every fast fashion option, you can always find a better brand that’s doing good for the world in one capacity or another, whether that’s using water-based ink, or removing a certain amount of trash from the ocean for every product sold,” Cameron explained. “Little things add up and pay off, and we want to show people that you don’t have to spend that much more to get that much more out of your purchases.”
The couple also tries to carry over their mission into the ways the store is run on the day to day as well, like by not printing paper receipts or by running donation days, in which they give a percentage of their sales to a local nonprofit.
“We love Westerly and the renaissance it’s been undergoing,” Anastasia shared. “When we moved here, the town was still pretty quiet, and we’ve seen all of the hard work and ingenuity that has taken place since then. People have really invested their blood, sweat, and tears and they’ve taken chances and it’s paying off. We get asked all the time about running a year-round business in a town with such high summer traffic, and of course, the summertime is great and we love to see new people come through, but it’s really the locals who sustain us.”
“We live in an area where a lot of people already care about the same things as us,” Cameron added. “Stonington has one of the highest populations of unaffiliated voters, so they’re really into being free thinkers, and making their own decisions, and not just shopping for certain logos.”
As they enter year two as a married couple and as business owners, there’s much to reflect on, be proud of, and look forward to. The store has grown immensely in terms of selection, and plans are in place to launch a women’s collection.
“We don’t always see eye to eye,” Anastasia shared. “I don’t know any couple that works together that does. But we’re engaged every day, we challenge each other to be better and smarter, and we’ve grown a lot together. I think it helps that we’ve known each other since we were kids, and we both love knowing that we’ve done something good together each day.”
If you’re interested in supporting a local business and reducing your carbon footprint through mindful purchases in a fun environment, stop by Cahill & Company today!