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Road Kill Meets Fashion

A staggering 1 million animals are killed by traffic every day. But one woman found a way to turn these unsightly accidents into ethical accessories, revolutionizing the fur industry.

Pamela Paquin founded Petite Mort (French for “little death”), a business that recycles road kill and turns it into fashion with principles, an idea she’s had for years. “It’s so much a part of everyday life to see these animals,” she told Modern Farmer. The case for eating road kill has gained ground, but little has been said of utilizing its furs—an industry that claims 50 million animals a year. “You can’t possibly wrap your head around the suffering that went into those numbers.”

Paquin, a resident of Wayland, Mass., located a taxidermist in Vermont who taught her how to skin and scrape an animal pelt ahead of the tanning process; she then ships the fur to a tannery in Idaho (one of few in the country that works with partial pelts). With the remains of the bodies, she goes into the woods and places the animal in fetal position, giving a prayer of thanks—a call to her Native American heritage. Paquin’s customers have been steady, and all by word-of-mouth. From neck muffs to leg warmers to trapper hats, her products (made to measure) start at $1,000 and contain a sterling silver badge indicating it’s a one-of-a-kind, ethical item.

She recovers most of the animals herself, but collaborates with hunters, wildlife officers, highway patrolmen, and various contacts who spot salvageable animals. Last year her stock included bears, foxes, beavers, raccoons, otters, minks, fisher cats, baby fawns, and a coyote. All animals are registered with Massachusetts’ Division of Fisheries and Wildlife, and Paquin sends her customers details about the animal’s recovery and clues as to the life it might have lived. “Each animal has a story,” she said.

Currently, Paquin is looking for investors to expand this enterprise, hoping that one day fur will be wearable material for those with ethical reservations.

“Fur is a very sensual and luxurious product that has been shamed and shameful for a very, very long time,” she said. “This is a shameless fur. This is champagne all night and no hangover.”

Image by Holly Kuchura, licensed under Creative Commons.