Get to know the 2017 Connecticut Innovator,
Elizabeth Eakins is a textile designer and steward of the environment. She is the founder of Elizabeth Eakins Inc., a textile company that produces hand-woven rugs and fabrics from natural fibers. When she landed in New York City in 1978, Elizabeth Eakins, a Pittsburgh native and graduate of the prestigious California College of Arts & Crafts, had simple expectations. “I thought ‘I’ll just be the rug lady—the person that people want to come to and get rugs,’” says Eakins, who learned to weave when she was 11 years old. She happily envisioned a life where she would provide genuine service making useful and enduring handwoven textiles out of natural fibers. She anticipated that this path would be gratifying and that the world would be a warmer and softer place. And it was. Almost 30 years later, her company consists of a showroom in New York, a store in Los Angeles and a light-filled facility in South Norwalk, CT that includes a design studio, yarn-dyeing room, a hand-weaving studio, assembly floor, and showroom. Elizabeth’s rug and fabric lines are also available in showrooms in London, San Francisco, Miami, Boston, Dallas, Houston and in Holland & Sherry showrooms nationwide. In 2015, Elizabeth launched an exclusive line of fabrics with Holland & Sherry in fresh and versatile jacquards, stripes and solids.
“Nature is the driving force behind everything, and nothing is a given,” says Eakins. On her farm in Kansas, with her husband, they nurture 100 Border Leicester sheep and grow the crops to feed them. The challenges are great, the rewards are greater, and the couple is committed to raising unstressed, healthy animals with extraordinary fleece. The Private Reserve collection is handwoven from the fleece of her own sheep. A conservationist and environmental advocate, Elizabeth uses only natural fibers and non-toxic dyes for her rugs in her South Norwalk studio. She cleaned up a toxic site in South Norwalk and created her current studio. Feeling privileged, inspired and grateful, Elizabeth makes textiles from nature’s best and is giving her best back to nature.
Honors include the John Russel Pope Award for Interior Design in 2015, Nomination to One Wool, the Campaign for Wool and the Kansas Bankers Association Award for Soil Conservation in 2016.