Mollie Crosby Burch (College '13)
Mollie Crosby Burch knew two things when she arrived at UVA. She knew she wanted to one day start her own fashion line, and she knew that since the University did not offer a fashion program, she would have to work a little harder and be more creative to make that dream happen. The other thing she knew was that her fashion dreams went beyond commercial success. She wanted to make a difference. Welcome to CROSBY by Mollie Burch (College ‘13) an Atlanta-based contemporary women’s clothing line she started with a fellow Hoo, McIntire School grad Taylor Richardson ('13). The company has just celebrated its second year and is known for Burch’s own custom prints that feature bold, abstract designs and lots of vibrant colors. The feminine clothing is whimsical, flattering, and is loved by women from ages 16 to 70.
The line can currently be found in more than 180 boutiques, largely concentrated in the southeast, as well as online. The company’s impact, however, can be felt all around the globe thanks to its efforts to help in the fight against human trafficking. “We use some of our designs to help support and spread awareness for organizations that help victims of sex trafficking,” Burch said. “We are primarily working with an Atlanta-based organization called Wellspring Living, which rescues and rehabilitates women and children who have become ensnared in the worldwide trafficking crisis.” Each major season, Burch designs a print that has been inspired by one of the stories of restoration and hope uncovered by the remarkable work Wellspring does. The benefits to the organization are twofold, as all proceeds from the particular design go to the organization while the overall effort helps to spread awareness of the crisis.
Burch was quick to take advantage of the vast array of experiences and opportunities UVA would provide her, diving into a double major that combined Studio Art with an interdisciplinary major through the Echols Scholar program that included studio art, art history and a focus on costume design in the UVA Drama Department. She quickly fell in love with printmaking after taking a class with Akemi Ohira in the second semester of her first year. Ohira would become her sponsor for the interdisciplinary major. “She responded to my story and my passion and was an incredible advocate for me throughout my four years. She helped me create and foster exactly what I wanted to do.” Ohira’s support was complemented by the guidance of Gweneth West, professor of Costume Design in the Drama Department. Both professors played major roles in Burch realizing her artistic and professional dreams, she said.
Burch credits the UVA focus on social justice issues and the many opportunities the University offers for exploring selfless work. “The atmosphere at UVA really inspired me to look beyond myself to see others needs, and to figure out a way to make my career one of doing what I love for a greater cause. By the time I graduated I knew that I wanted to address the issue of human trafficking through my design work.”