What does your business do?
Modique Couture creates knit fabric on obsolete, manually-operated, vintage
looms called “knitting machines.” The knit fabric is shaped into garments on
the loom with no cutting, and is finished by hand. Sustainable, luxury fiber is
sourced locally, from across the U.S., and from Canada; almost all of it is hand-
dyed in collaboration with DebbieDuckYarns in Fuquay-Varina, NC.
Eris Swanstrom creates these garments using stream-of-consciousness design,
producing one-of-a-kind embellishments for your personality.
When and why did you start the biz?
I have been traditionally knitting and crocheting for 28 years and grew tired of the results and the inability to bring handmade knitwear to market at a reasonable price. In
2014, I stumbled upon a manually-operated, vintage loom that allowed one to make knit fabric at a significantly faster pace than hand-knitting, while yet remaining slow-
fashion and handmade. I discovered these looms were made for only about 50 years and so I began researching and collecting them, both in need of repair and in working
condition. The looms are very difficult to use, but produce incredible fabric that can be shaped at the same time the fabric is being made. It took a year to repair and learn
how to use the looms, and then took me another year to learn how to make clothing on the looms. By 2016, I had begun to develop my own style of clothing and had started
doing pop-up markets, all to great success. I have since developed several styles of clothing, all one-of-a-kind pieces, and made the decision to consciously source
sustainable fiber and have it locally dyed to my specifications. I now source all my fiber in the U.S. and Canada and have it dyed by a small, independent hand-dyer in Fuquay-
Varina, NC. I am still doing pop-up markets, and seeking independent boutiques to carry my clothing. I would like to open a storefront in the near future, where I can host my
workshop and give tours and demonstrations, offer my clothing for purchase, and educate my community about slow, sustainable fashion.
How Many People are in your Company?
Where's your office?
My studio is currently in a 500sqft sunroom off the back of my house! I have 4
looms currently in production that age in range from 1966-1988.
What's the toughest part of running your biz?
The toughest part is finding the right audience for my price point, honestly. While
my knitwear is certainly affordable compared to hand-knitwear, it's still pretty
What's the most fun part?
The most fun part is getting a new shipment of yarn from my dyer and sitting down
to start drawing ideas of what to do with it! That's how the process begins. But
really, I love every step of the process.
Anything you would have done differently?
I would have found better photography and created lookbooks for each year.
What's next on the horizon for your biz?
A storefront with an open workshop!
What advice do you have for others?
Do pop-up markets! It's low commitment, low cost, and is a great way to get
positive reinforcement, network, and sell your art.
How do you use Idea Cafe to help your biz?
I'm excited to see what I can learn from all the resources! And I'm definitely
looking for grants, so it's been super helpful there. Also, filling out this profile has
helped me put some important things into words, which I kept to use again!
School (where, still in school, degree)?
Dropped out of college :/
Prior jobs or business?
fruit with my shoes off!
What are your pets' names?
Luker, India, Frinquls
Do any of these pets help with your biz?
Luker is quality control, India is a model and muse, and Frinquls is the manager.
Is there any one person or event in your life that led
you to go into business for yourself?
I was inspired by my boyfriend's endeavor to live as an artist, and thought, damn, I
could do that too!
Anyone you publicly want to thank?
Jon Pitts and Angie Bagley! Much inspiration and support!
625 Penncross Dr
Raleigh, NC 27610