Sad, but not surprising, news today, given the current situation: Due to financial struggles brought on by the pandemic, designer Carly Cushnie is closing the brand she founded 12 years ago. Back then, the label was Cushnie et Ochs and it was helmed by Cushnie and her former partner Michelle Ochs. In 2018, the duo parted ways, and Cushnie rebranded as a solo act, and in the years since her feminine, yet empowering silhouettes attracted fans in the form of Michelle Obama and Beyoncé.

“Like any small business we had our challenges, but it was really the pandemic that grinded everything to a halt,” she said on a phone call. “There were seasons canceled and orders canceled and it was super, super tough. I’d gotten to a point where I was obviously concerned and thought we couldn’t make it, but then the Black Lives Matter movement started to surge. After that, there was a lot more interest in my brand, which was great, but it would have been [better] if it [had] come a bit earlier.”

Cushnie was in the process of raising more capital, but it didn’t come soon enough. “ I couldn’t hold on any longer. I make clothes for people to go out and enjoy their lives in. I don’t make loungewear,” she said. “I didn’t have the ability to just suddenly switch and entirely change what my brand does. That takes a great expense, to change the direction of a brand. Whether it’s the category or the price point, it’s a big undertaking and I wasn’t able to do it.” 

Despite ending this chapter, Cushnie, who’s been happily spending more time at home with her husband and two young daughters, is hopeful for the future. “This has been my whole life, my whole career. It’s definitely been difficult and heartbreaking, but at the same time, I’m open to exploring all avenues. Whether it’s finding some way to continue to design under my own name or whether it’s other projects, I always want to be designing and creating. I’m open to whatever comes next.”