by Mary Harbocian

For the past decade, Mary Harbocian has offered upcycled clothing and other products, all created by her, under the banner of Carma.

“It is a combination of my name, Mary, and that of my youngest daughter, Cara, a visual artist whose work I use on some products,” she says.

The idea for her business came about after realizing how much clothing – a substantial amount – is discarded into our landfills. The average person throws away 31.75 kilograms of clothing each year, according to the World Wear Project, and 13 million tons of textile waste are produced each year—the overwhelming majority of which can be reused or recycled.

“I wanted to make a fun, interesting product that didn’t contribute to that mess,” says Mary. “I have been a thrifter forever. This seemed the right thing at the right time!”

Meeting people and watching them leave her booth “excited to wear a unique, one-of-a-kind piece” is what she enjoys most about being an entrepreneur.

“I want my customers to be happy and excited about the whole concept,” she says, adding her lifelong history as a sewist helps her choose the best materials.

“I know material and look for how it will flow and feel on the skin. Also, I make booty warmers, scarves and leggings for winter, so I need sweaters.”

Small businesses like hers are critical to the local economy because they support the community in which they live.

“We spend our dollars here, our children grow up here and we have a vested interest in keeping the community vital and alive.”

Mary hopes to become involved in the “Windows Forward” project set to launch in Wawa in the coming months.