Canvas + Clothier, A Sustainable Fashion and Home Goods Store Opens in Downtown Poughkeepsie
We are Upstate NY with Jillian Kaufman Grano of Utility Canvas and MaryVaughn Williams of Hudson Clothier — the owners of two successful women-owned businesses who teamed up to create Canvas + Clothier, a sustainable fashion and home goods store in downtown Poughkeepsie.
What started as a wholesale relationship, with the clothing and goods store Hudson Clothier selling Utility Canvas’ durable apparel and accessories, became an opportunity to promote American-made goods in the heart of a former industrial epicenter.
More than a boutique, Canvas + Clothier provides an experience; the two-story micro-department store is also a coffee shop and its curated selection of US-made wares is so thoughtfully displayed that it almost feels like a showhouse. In addition, many of the products sold are made right in New York, enhancing their mission of promoting domestically manufactured products that are designed and sold in a sustainable way.
We caught up with the pair to learn more about how their individual backgrounds merged toward a combined vision of producing and selling high-quality clothing and goods — while reminding customers of the importance of purchasing American-made.
INSIDE+OUT: Tell us about Canvas + Clothier: How did it start and what has been your journey?
MaryVaughn Williams: Canvas + Clothier was born out of a relationship I developed with the wonderful folks of Utility Canvas. When I opened Hudson Clothier with all domestically made brands, I was so pleased to bring Utility Canvas into my mix. I saw immediate success when I started selling their line. We got to know each other over time and one day Jillian, who is one half of that business, asked me if I’d like to open a shop with her! So we named it Canvas+Clothier.
Jillian Kaufman Grano: It made so much sense to partner with Mary Vaughn to complete the story of our brand and have a partner who shares our passions. With Canvas + Clothier, we’re able to make a retail store that is meaningful as a destination. And the mission to inspire the conversation around domestic manufacturing is the most exciting part of what we are doing together. It’s exciting to be in a place where our mission is reverberated in the community and we can see how what we do can make a difference.
What sets you apart from similar shops?
MaryVaughn: Our concept is all American-made, and many of our brands are house brands, created in Jillian’s factory on West 39th Street in the city. Our mantra is “Hard-working clothes for hard-working people.”
Spring 2023 Collection | The BOLD.The BRIGHT. The BEAUTIFUL.
What are the most challenging and the most rewarding aspects of running a business like this?
MaryVaughn: I love creating awareness around the significance of US-made — how it addresses so many issues our country currently faces, such as climate change and the ability to support local economies by keeping currency within our communities.
How is your industry changing?
MaryVaughn: We think people are realizing that online shopping is not as satisfying as an in-person experience where you make connections, learn the value and source of your purchase, as well as have a sensory experience!
How are you adapting?
Jillian: We are “boots on the ground” — always ready to change, listening to customers and looking for opportunities.
What impact does your business have on your community?
MaryVaughn: We hope to play the part of a substantial economic driver for downtown Poughkeepsie.
What is one question you’re constantly asked, or the biggest misconception about your business?
Jillian: “How can I afford the higher price point?” Our answer is that none of us can afford not to. We need to understand how the price we pay is a thread that extends to other aspects of the way we live. Over the long run, our prices are not high. Our products are not disposable. They are designed to last. “Buy better, buy less.”
Where are you from and how did you wind up in the Hudson Valley?
MaryVaughn: I grew up in NYC and moved to Hudson 20 years ago. I’ve never looked back. Such a beautiful place to live!
Jillian: I moved to the Hudson Valley in 1990 to start Utility Canvas, then moved back to NYC in 2010 to run brand retail stores and work more closely with our Garment District factories. Coming back to Poughkeepsie to open Canvas + Clothier is a perfect close to our circle.
What is it about the Hudson Valley that makes it unique to live + work here?
Jillian: The beauty of the region and the proximity to NYC makes it so unique, down to earth and full of amazing people. What we do is real and so is the life we live here in the Hudson Valley.
Tell us something people would be surprised to know.
MaryVaughn: I spent 25 years manufacturing my own label in Indonesia, living in Bali and being immersed in the culture and wonderful people I worked with.
Who or what inspires each of you personally?
MaryVaughn: My partner Jillian inspires me with her dedication to being a U.S. manufacturer and for her work ethic. It’s been an extraordinary experience collaborating with her so far. I think we both are inspired by our strong partnership.
Jillian: Ditto to MaryVaughn!
What’s next for Canvas + Clothier — Any exciting events coming up?
Jillian: We have an art show opening in our Gallery on May 12th called “American Patchwork”. It’s a multimedia art show centered around, “What is patchwork, and what is the American Patchwork?” Otherwise, there are always new products in the store and new events to come. Follow us on Instagram!
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Connect with Canvas + Clothier via website | Facebook | Instagram
Also check out both…
Utility Canvas via website | Facebook | Instagram