Carmen Pérez Pineda
At her home/studio in Venice Beach, California.
Carmen and I met in The Netherlands in 2002, during our last year of college. At the time, we were both studying business administration in Rotterdam. We became close friends very quickly until we went our separate ways and, although we saw each other every once in a while, we lived in different countries for almost nine years until she moved to Los Angeles in 2011.
Carmen is an incredibly detail-oriented person in everything she does. Her adventures in London, where she moved with her life long boyfriend, Jorge, took shape when she decided to enroll in London College of Fashion to study an MA on fashion marketing. Her interests were clear and, from the books and magazines she collected throughout the years, one could see that the connection she had to fashion was inspired by a unique artistic and passionate perspective.
She started her fashion marketing career working for breakthrough designers in London like Emilio de la Morena, and Maria Francesca Pepe, while also consulting freelance for others brands. Her years learning the production processes of new collections, and the insights of how a label produces garments season after season, gave her an overall understanding of the fashion industry. These skills gave her a curiosity to investigate alternative production methods that were less harmful to the environment, but most importantly, socially responsible. She was astonished when she immersed herself in her next project, which came about as a result of learning that there was so much child labor employed in the manufacture of goods for fashion labels. The soul of Carmen’s project was thus conceived.
California started to appeal to Carmen's sensibilities, and once she felt settled, she launched Cats with a Heart from her Venice Beach apartment, an initiative to raise awareness and educate consumers about child labor, by making plush cats with the leftovers of designers’ fabric. She donates a percentage of the cats she sells to organizations in India that fight for the cause and, while approaching designers with whom to collaborate, she also helps spread the word about this important issue. Her work contributes to a small degree to the immense task of ending such abuse.
Meanwhile, her humble cause is gaining a following, and the number of designers who want to get involved increases every day, including Emilio de la Morena, Reformation and Claire Barrow among others. So Carmen looks forward and keeps her hopes high while connecting with other like-minded initiatives. Today there is a clear trend towards ultra-transparent methodologies in fashion, and this keeps her both interested and inspired to make the industry more ethically sound.