4xForth: Sarah Aulie of Hand & Cloth / by Clare Johnson


It's 4xForth Friday and today we're highlighting Forth Chicago alum, Sarah Aulie, executive Director + Founder of Hand & Cloth. We first met Sarah at our Fall Salon and were immediately taken by her amazing story and the mission behind the beautiful textiles of Hand & Cloth. Her abundant positivity and inspirational self fills any room with light and we are so excited to welcome her into the Forth community. 

Today Sarah chats about her favorite Chicago bites, sites she lurves, places she frequents in our great city, AND a fun new category about ethical fashion designers.

Best bites in Chicago:

1. Raw: My new favorite!  The owners are two lovely women whose skin glow. I like their Collard Salad with Raw Sauerkraut (no really, it’s actually good) for lunch. Their raw muffins and raw granola are a treat. And if you want to try an amazing chocolate dessert made with avocado, dates and raw chocolate, try Polly’s Brownie. 2. Pho at Tank Noodle Try their vegetarian spring rolls and avocado & mango smoothie, too! 3. Ruxbin: A cozy and creative Chicago spot, owned by people who have become dear friends. I was first struck by the warm hospitality of the Ruxbin staff. Come to find out, hospitality is one of their guiding values. Each member of the Ruxbin staff does a beautiful job carrying out this ethos in the way that they make each guest feel welcomed and at-home. 

Places I frequent in Chicago: 

1. I’m currently frequenting Pilates classes at One Body Pilates Studio for as long as my Groupon lasts! If you visit, make sure to get a class from Nicki – she is trained by the third descendent trainer of Joseph Pilates himself! So I think in the Pilates world, that’s a big deal. 2. Whole Foods: Sorry! Is that not interesting enough? I tried to quit going there but I’ve found that visiting the produce section and seeing the perfectly stacked rows of vegetables makes me feel like my life is in order. 3. Loom:  I am honored to get to work with a group of refugee women artisans and collaborating Chicago designers developing products such as hand-dyed natural indigo textiles, hand-painted silk and a crochet jewelry line. Loom is a social enterprise of Catholic Charities Refugee Resettlement Program.  Each Loom artisan is able to make an additional source of income for her family here in Chicago through the sale of her products. The Loom Studio and Workshop is becoming one of my favorite and most frequented places in Chicago – not only do I love being surrounded by the textiles and naturals dyes, I love spending time with the women - both the artisans and the local Chicago designers -  who have become good friends. Drop by our workshop and visit us any Tuesday from 4pm – 6pm at 4754 N Leavitt St., Chicago. We’ll be having weaving workshops in December with a local Chicago weaver, Kimmy Tolbert Compton.

Sites I lurve:

1. I love to see the Lookbook Collections from Raven & Lily, one of my favorite ethical fashion brands. 2. I also love the site of my favorite shoe brands, Nisolo. Each pair of handcrafted leather shoes gives a fair wage to talented artisans in Peru. Not only are the shoes beautiful, the founders and staff of Nisolo are wonderful, too.  I tend to visit their site often and dream about which pair I would buy next….

Favorite Ethical Fashion Designers in Chicago-land:  (A fun category added by Sarah!)

1. Jamie Hayes, Production Mode  Jamie recently opened up her studio space around the corner from me in Logan Square and hired one of Loom’s most talented artisans to assist her in the production of her new leather jacket line. Jamie and I went to graduate school together and have kept in touch ever since, collaborating on different projects together.  I appreciate the care that Jamie takes with every aspect of her work – from fair wages to artisans to an ethical supply chain.  2. Jackie Corlett Johnson, Motif. Jackie is a British Textile Designer living in Southern Illinois whose work often brings her to Chicago. Jackie worked in Bangladesh for close to twenty years, where she developed a training module for Bengali artisans and founded a fair-trade business called Motif. I first met Jackie in Bangladesh seven years ago and she has become a dear friend, a mentor and a collaborator to both Loom and Hand & Cloth.


Thanks for sharing, Sarah! I will happily join you on a fun-filled trip to Whole Foods or Raw, any day! Also, the drop-in hours for Loom and upcoming weaving workshops sound amazing -- perfect for a Forth Chicago community excursion!

It was an absolute pleasure being seated next to you at the Forth Fall Salon. I loved our little side conversations almost as much as I love the beautiful kanthas from Hand & Cloth. To anyone who is looking for holiday shopping ideas with a side of inspiration and heart, look no further.

Follow Sarah on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.