Sewing Change: Madison House alumnae co-found fashion line with focus on social justice

Two years after graduating from UVA, Madison House alumnae Taylor Richardson and Mollie Burch co-founded CROSBY by Mollie Burch, a women’s contemporary clothing line with bold color palettes and whimsical designs. Head designer Mollie and co-founder Taylor want CROSBY’s designs to empower women—in particular, the survivors and organizations fighting to end sex trafficking. Every season, the clothing line donates proceeds from one print to its nonprofit partners Wellspring Living. They have also partnered with nonprofit, Starfish Project.

Mollie says CROSBY redefines the space of fashion to produce a positive image—one that encourages women to feel confident and beautiful. “Women should feel empowered to be a light in the lives of others, and in the lives of women who suffer horrible trials in their lives through trafficking.”

“We’re using the success of Mollie’s designs and product to help raise awareness for, and ideally, help support organizations that have a bigger cause beyond a clothing line,” says Taylor. “That makes it rewarding every day.”

Though the duo didn’t meet until after they both graduated in 2013, Mollie and Taylor both credit the experience of public service with organizations like Madison House as integral to their development as entrepreneurs, philanthropists, and creatives.

Mollie joined Madison House’s Big Siblings program, and remembers teaching a dance class to local youth at the YMCA. She also became involved in UVA’s fashion club and The Memory Project—an initiative where art students create and donate portraits of youth facing substantial challenges.

When Taylor wasn’t busy in the McIntire School of Commerce, serving on the Honor Committee and playing club soccer, she volunteered as a coach for the Soccer Organization of Charlottesville-Albemarle (SOCA) Athletics program. She would go on to serve as a SOCA Program Director and Athletics Head Program Director. This year marks her third year as a member of the Madison House Alumni Council (MHAC).

“It’s about enabling people to be their best selves,” Taylor says. “Inherently, that shines in Madison House because the 3,000-plus students are going out in the community to help others. In doing that, they actually become a better form of themselves.”

Through mutual friends in Atlanta, Taylor met Mollie and together, they built a business that “does something bigger than itself, and a big portion of that stems from what Madison House stands for,” says Taylor, and Mollie agrees.

“It’s important to give back whenever you can and in whatever way seems fit. That’s definitely an integral part of our company,” says Mollie. “With Madison House being a part of our college career experience, it definitely helped shape that mindset.”

“Involvement in public service, whether you do it as a college student with Madison House or starting to transition your career to it, teaches you the power of a mutually-beneficial relationship,” Taylor says.

Taylor and Mollie both emphasize those mutually-beneficial relationships as the cornerstones of public service, and when building a business.

“Build a network of supporters and mentors,” says Taylor. “Something that quickly kept Mollie and I pushing forward was the unbelievable support from our family and friends.”

Mollie encourages perseverance and persistence. “At the end of the day, you will push through those hurdles… Stay true to what you’re passionate about.”