OP native Cailee Traen and Nebraska native Caley Cahoy met in college at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. At the time, Traen was majoring in biology with a psychology minor and Cahoy was studying advertising and public relations with a minor in fashion merchandising. It wasn’t until they became sorority sisters and, later, close friends that they decided to start their own brand Commonlee, a sustainable fashion brand, after seeing the rise in fast fashion during the pandemic.
We talked to Traen and Cahoy about the inception of their brand, Commonlee, the sustainable fashion practices that are so important to them and fall fashion trends.
How did the idea for Commonlee come about?
Cahoy: During Covid, we were living in different places, not really enjoying what we were doing at the time. We’re both very interested in fashion and creating things, so we came up with a broad idea at first and then did a lot of research and ended up finding a couple of manufacturers in KC.
Tell us about the importance of sustainability in the brand and why that became so important to Commonlee.
Traen: During Covid, online shopping and everything became so big, and there were a lot of fast fashion trends. So that kind of pulled us into wanting to be sustainable. We wanted to create more timeless pieces that you can keep for a long time instead of those fast fashion pieces that you only wear one or two times. We also knew we wanted to be local, and Rightfully Sewn just seemed like the perfect local fit. It’s really nice because we get to work directly with them and see our products being made. One of our goals is to create timeless staple pieces that are good quality, sustainable and support the local community.
What kind of trends do you see emerging as we move closer to fall?
Cahoy: You never know what the trends are going to be, but what we’re seeing and planning for this fall is not necessarily generic fall colors like the darker Earth tones. We’re planning for a little bit more of the cooler, lighter tones for fall. We’re also super excited about our sustainable fleece-lined fabric.