Green America: Growing the Green Economy for People and the Planet

Fiberactive Organics
Raleigh, NC

Fiberactive Organics makes it possible to sew and create anything you want from organic cotton.  Several years ago, owner/artist Julie Mullin became frustrated with the lack of organic sewing products on the market and decided to manufacture her own. Now she says, “Our most popular line of products are our organic cotton sewing materials.  We make and sell the world’s first organic cotton thread, embroidery floss, hand-dyed organic ribbon, and beautiful organic braided tape.  And we’ve just started hand-spinning North Carolina organic cotton into yarn for hand-knitting and crochet.”  Coupled with a stock of organic cotton fabrics, Fiberactive is the only place in the southeast where eco-crafters can find what they need.

Fiberactive is a working sewing studio where things for the home and family are made from organic cotton fabrics and post-industrial scrap fabric.  “We have a variety of wonderful organic product lines, including table linens and other housewares, wedding products and even green burial products.” Julie says.  For our up-cycled products like fabric vessels, “fabrics are donated to us from individuals and even large companies -- anyone with fabric scraps who doesn’t want them to go into the landfill.  We make beauty out of waste.”

Table linens

Organic cotton napkins held in a hemp napkin ring, with cotton scrap placemat and organic cotton tablecloth.

Organic cotton basket made with up-cycled scraps.
Organic cotton multi-purpose thread on 300-yard spools.
Hand-dyed, organic cotton embroidery floss in 8-yard skeins.

Fiberactive Organics provides sewing services to other green companies around the country.  “Our line of Moses Basket accessories for Momma’s Baby is really beautiful.”  Mullin says.  The company’s contracts range from cat toys for Organikat, to hand-painted silk blouses for Ebb & Flow.  The more work the company brings in, the more people they can put to work.

All of the studio workers at Fiberactive Organics are refugee women that have settled in Raleigh, NC.  They are Montagnards who grew up in the jungles of Vietnam never having had electricity or running water.  They speak a language that is specific to their village, so translators are rare.  At Fiberactive they are taught English, and basic living and health skills; they get medical assistance and a host of other services as they need them.  They can choose to work from home or come to the sewing studio.

Fiberactive Organics’ business model comes straight from the heart.  Instead of hiring people with skills to do a specific job, Julie designs products that are within the capabilities of her refugee women. She founded the Montagnard Community Garden located at St Paul’s Christian Church so that her families could grow food like they did in Vietnam.  The gardens are now producing an abundance of food including plants from around the world.  Gardeners from all around the state come to the Montagnard Garden for tours and education on the cultivation and use of food plants that are basic to Montagnard cooking.

Julie Mullin hopes to someday get Fiberactive completely off the grid; using solar and wind energy and rain water collected in cisterns.  Julie says, “We are a small community of travelers, making our own little world of difference.”

Jum and Tuat

Jum Siu and Tuat Rocham, two of Fiberactive Organics' seamstresses.  They are Mongatnard refugee women from the central highlands of Vietnam, and now work and learn at Fiberactive's studio in Raleigh, NC.