Liberty 61 - Minimalist Style, with a Beautiful Purpose

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(See more photos and articles in our print edition!)

Every woman needs at least one special item of clothing in her closet. The one that makes her feel good as soon as she slips it on. The one that always feels comfortable and flattering. The one that looks as good with heels at dinner, as it does with flip-flops at HEB and cowboy boots at Gruene Hall.

New Braunfels-based Liberty 61 clothing is all of these things, and there’s something else that’s extra-special about this line: The name Liberty 61 comes from Isaiah 61, a Bible verse about helping others who are less fortunate. With a special place in her heart for mission work, the line’s designer and founder, Kass Carrell, donates a portion of every purchase to Commission To Every Nation (www.cten.org). This Kerrville-based organization, started by her friend and former pastor, provides funding to assist missionaries in the field.

“These missionaries work with people on the ground and know their needs,” Kass says. “It’s great to know these missionaries and read their stories and visit them, to learn where people are helping, and to know where the money is going and how it will help people.”

A Minimalist Aesthetic
Liberty 61 is a dream fulfilled for Kass, who believes that most women are like her: They would rather have one perfect dress in their closet than 10 dresses that are less than fabulous and spend most of their time on hangers.

“My motto is ‘keep it simple.’ I’d rather buy better quality and have less in my closet, but have things I will wear over and over that will last a long time,” Kass says. “When my wardrobe is simple, comfortable and easy, I feel more free to go and do the other, more important things in life. The pieces I design are timeless, not trendy. I make things that will look good next year and the year after, and the year after that, that can be worn in every season and create a look that can totally change with different accessories.”

This “less is more” philosophy is why Kass chooses only the finest-quality, organic, luxuriously soft and durable bamboo and linen. It’s why she spent months at her own sewing machine, testing different designs and details to find the ones that would flatter every body type. And it’s why she carefully selected American pattern makers and manufacturers, and why she took the time to get to know the employees whose skilled hands replicate her designs down to the last detail.

“I went to a fabric and trim show in Los Angeles, and when I touched this bamboo I said, ‘Oh my goodness,’” Kass recalls. “It is more expensive than a lot of other fabrics, but I knew that I could make something that would stand the test of time, and I had to stay true to how I felt about my goal. It will cost a bit more, but will last much longer.”

The line currently consists of four pieces in neutral colors: a stunning bamboo and linen Ruffle Front Dress, a soft bamboo Liberty Women’s tee, the cool and casual Linen Front Top, and a bamboo Unisex Liberty tee. Right now, Liberty 61 is available online at www.liberty61.com and at LeeLee at the Pearl in San Antonio, and Kass is making connections to get the new line onto more boutique racks across Texas and the nation.

“My whole clothing line is about functionality, and it’s a Texas Americana look,” Kass says. “Everything has pockets. I have younger girls wearing them, and older women really love them, too. I make clothing that feels very flattering, where you don’t feel like you have to suck in to look good.”

Because each piece takes a full year to go from her sketchpad into buyers’ hands, she’s now designing next year’s line to expand on existing pieces, with graphic t-shirts and long-sleeve cowl hoodies in the works.
“I’m having fun getting ideas onto the drawing board,” she says. “I want to make some t-shirt graphics that are New Braunfels-style and that tie into our heritage here.”

From Hard Times to Dream Fulfilled
Although bringing Liberty 61 to life has been a long learning process for Kass – who in the past two years has experienced a hands-on, crash-course education on the garment business – this isn’t her first clothing venture.

After a few years as a Marine in Okinawa, Japan, Kass got married and then divorced, and found herself a single mother in Amarillo raising three small daughters – Lillie, Rubie, and Gracie. At the time, she couldn’t afford the precious boutique children’s clothing she wanted for her girls. So, she bought a sewing machine and serger, taught herself how to sew, and made her girls some adorable outfits. Soon, she was making an entire line of beautifully made children’s and doll’s clothing called “Lil’ Women,” and selling it at a little store on historic Sixth Street.

Though times were tight, Kass sent money to a young woman she had met while studying Spanish in Costa Rica, helping her go to sewing school and start her own business making wedding dresses.

“It was a hard time, but looking back I know that it made me a stronger and better person, and it made me more aware of people in need,” she says. “I had my three girls, and I felt so blessed. They inspired me to do more to make a better life for them.”

Today, Kass is happily married to James, who provides unending support for her dreams, and her daughters are now old enough to serve as Liberty 61 models. While growing a business from the ground up hasn’t been easy, for Kass, Liberty 61 is the calling that she has always yearned to follow.

“I feel so passionate about it,” she says. “For the first time in my life, I feel like I’m doing what I should have always been doing.”

Kristy Hurst is a freelance writer. She lives in New Braunfels with her husband and two children.

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