My City Series | Carol Miltimore

No one knows a city better than its people. Consciously Connected Travel shares with you our global fam and friends through our My City Series. Unmasking some of the coolest places and it’s people and giving you a deeper more connected insight.

After graduating from Parsons School of Design and interning for Michael Kors in New York City and the couture designer Anne Valerie Hash in Paris, Carol Miltimore spent a decade working as a designer for the likes of Calvin Klein Jeans, Converse and Armani Exchange. While doing all that she became a certified yoga teacher, helped launch an urban roof farm, took textile courses, and traveled to places like Tibet and Morocco where she met with various artisans. This journey ultimately inspired the creation of Seek Collective. A a line of elevated essentials inspired by the global woman. Blending art, craft, and design to create items that are luxurious, sensible, and timeless.

1. Born and Raised or Expat?

I was born and raised in CT, I spent 17 years in NYC with some stints living in Paris, France and in India, and have moved to Berkeley, CA this year.

2. What led you to choose your current profession? And, what steps did you take to get there?

I love textiles and fashion design as an art, as something to express yourself in, and as a form of cultural storytelling and history. When I was working in the corporate industry I felt removed from the process of apparel manufacturing both as a designer and as a consumer. I also saw that apparel is an industry that has historically exploited people and the environment. I wanted to stay in the industry yet do it in a way that instead empowered people, was considerate to the planet, and brought transparency to the manufacturing process behind the scenes. 

Seek Collective began after I traveled to India solo with a one-way ticket for an artist residency and to visit craftspeople throughout the country. My goal has always been and continues to be creating beautiful, high quality, relevant garments that people feel good living their lives wearing while making sure the way they were made has been as environmentally and socially responsible as possible. My hope is to also bring transparency, interest, and enthusiasm to a supply chain that is complex.

Seek represents the desire to always be Seeking as we go through life. Collective represents how it is a vast network of different skilled people united in the creation of each garment. I hope we can all Seek the Collective we want to be part of, I hope we never stop Seeking better ways of doing things, and I hope we can strive for a more Collective and connected way of living.

3. On your Day-to-Day routine?

I usually wake up at around 6:30am and stay in bed for another hour reading the news on my phone (I check in with NYTimes, BBC, and Al Jazeera to get a more well rounded view on things), then get up to make tea and breakfast. I have a garden now, which brings me a lot of joy, that I always check in on while the tea brews. I often take a walk in a nearby park with my partner to walk the dog and after that I start the workday! We have a little one-room cottage in our backyard that is half my office and half my partner’s music studio that I usually am working from these days. There’s always more to get done than I have time in a day so once I buckle down I’m pretty focused all day. In the evening I’ll either take a yoga class or go for a short hike at the Berkeley Fire Trail near our house. My partner and I will either cook dinner at home or go out to eat. Since there’s never really a way to turn off when you have a business and since Seek Collective’s production is in India where they are starting their day as I’m ending mine, I’m often still working at night before bed.

4. What is your favourite brunch spot?

I ate brunch a lot more when I was in NYC but since moving to Berkeley I’m still on the hunt for a spot I love here.  I do go to a Burmese restaurant nearly every week though because the food is just so good and the people there are so nice. It’s the Royal Rangoon Restaurant on Telegraph Ave.

5. When you have guests, where in town do you like to take them for dinner?

I bring them to a restaurant in Oakland called Boot and Shoe Service on Grand Ave. The interior is warm and cozy and gives me a Brooklyn vibe so feels like home in that sense. They have delicious salads, pastas, pizzas, and cocktails!

6. What cool festivals, if any, happen in your city?

Since Berkeley and Oakland are part of the San Francisco area there are lots of festivals and fairs regularly. One I’ve been dreaming of exploring but have yet to is the Alameda Flea Market that takes place every first Sunday of the month.

7. Where do you go to escape? How does this space bring you peace?

I get out into nature to escape and the fact that it’s so accessible in the Bay Area is one of the reasons I wanted to move here for so long. Close by there’s the Berkeley Fire Trail, Cesar Chavez Park, the Redwood Regional Park in Oakland, and Sibley Volcanic Regional Preserve. One of my favourites though is Point Reyes National Seashore. Being away from it all and surrounded by trees, moss, greenery, views of the ocean, fresh air, and walking or hiking makes me feel centred, inspired, and calm.

8. What’s a local brand in your area that we must know about?

There are a lot of great brands in the Bay Area. Some favourites are Dopp Shoes (fun shoes and based in Oakland), Earth to Face (organic skincare, based in Oakland), Yume Boshi (the most amazing ume plums I’ve ever had and based in Oakland), Heath Ceramics (great ceramics, employee owned and based in Sausalito) and Clove + Whole (a gorgeous space in Oakland and the founder finds and restores special ceramics and furniture).

9. Where and when is your next adventure?

I’m headed back to NYC and CT for three weeks in May to catch up with work, friends, and family. My partner and I will be flying for the first time with our 55 lb dog named Brisket, which feels like the real adventure part!

10. Does Travel breed creativity?

Traveling to see and experience new and/or unfamiliar places is always inspirational, which breeds creativity for me.  I love seeing new colours, vistas and architecture, trying new foods, immersing myself in a different culture as it makes me think of things differently and in a broader scope of humanity and art. It often takes time and being back home to fully absorb it all and then have it come out in my work and art.   

11. As for connecting the mind, body and soul, what do you do to promote self-love?

Yoga, massages, and hikes in nature.

12. Who is one famous figure throughout history that has particularly brought you inspiration?

I don’t think I could ever pick just one famous figure in history. There’s been so many in so many different fields including art, fashion, writing, philanthropy, philosophy, writing, science, politics, poetry, environmentalism ….

13. Are there any philanthropic programmes or projects that you’re passionate about or would like to shed some light on?

I’ve been a sponsor at Women for Women International for many years now and feel passionate about the work they do. Kiva is another organization I’ve supported for years doing great things worldwide.

14. Entrepreneurs, Tastemakers and Trailblazers, where do people like you hangout in your city?

I recently discovered Umami Mart in Oakland and fell in love with it.  It’s moving to a new location this month where it will have a bar in the back, which I definitely plan on hanging out in.

15. What is the importance of global connection to you?

I believe we can only think globally if we are responsible as we all share this planet with so many. The ripple effects of something happening in one place will in some way affect another place or people. We see this now more than ever with global warming. I love to support what is local but we can’t deny how much of our lives are affected by global events, production, sourcing, and politics.  I feel we are all connected and having interest in and empathy and consideration for all the diversity is key to improving our world.

16. Give a shout-out to someone in your city that is doing groundbreaking things, and what is it that makes them a trailblazer?

Samin Nostrat of Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat is Berkeley based and I’m a huge fan of hers. Her book and Netflix show is inspiring, honest, welcoming, and fun.

17. Advice for budding entrepreneurs?

It is a long road that will test your will, heart, patience, and bank account!  Dealing with getting knocked down then getting back up again on a regular basis, creative thinking and problem solving is the majority of the job. Have a personal mission statement you can turn to when you need reminding.

18. We’re living in a world where our attention to new innovation doesn’t seem to have longevity, how do you find your inspiration to make new waves with long-term prosperity?

In the long term, I’m trying to innovate in ways that will be a force of change and transparency in the complex supply chain of apparel manufacturing.

19. A playlist that embodies your work. What about this music brings you inspiration?

For inspiration I fluctuate between music that is mellow and relaxing, music that is more upbeat and makes me want to dance, and international tunes. I’m constantly creating playlists for the seasons or trips.