December 16, 2021
Today Evie is taking over the podcast and bringing on a guest in the fashion industry world to discuss something a little, shall we say, eye-opening? If you’ve ever wondered what all this hubbub about “sustainable fashion” or “ethical fashion” is, what that even means, how to do your part as either a brand OR as a consumer? This episode is for you. Today we have Jessica Kelly on the show.
Today Jessica talks about everything sustainable and ethical fashion. Covering everything from “what even IS sustainable fashion??” to behind the scenes of being a brand in the fashion world and how much you may not know about working with manufacturing and product development. We discuss steps you can take as a consumer to support sustainable and ethical fashion brands and movements as well as steps you can take as a brand or a founder trying to make waves in this industry.
If you’ve ever thought “made in America” meant “better”, you’ll wanna listen. If you think you know the exact definition of a “sustainable brand”, you’ll wanna listen. If you’ve ever felt overwhelmed or exhausted by the sustainability conversation in the fashion world, you’ll wanna listen.
It can be MESSY and CONFUSING to try to wrap our heads around “sustainability” but Jessica breaks everything down in such a way that you’ll walk away feeling empowered and excited rather than discouraged or overwhelmed.
Jessica is the Founder & CEO of THR3EFOLD. She’s spent a decade helping hundreds of fashion & lifestyle brands in New York City grow their business through marketing, sales, and PR. During a life-changing trip to India, she saw firsthand the issues with the supply chain and fashion industry and was set on a mission to change it. THR3EFOLD provides fashion brands with access to an ethical supply chain and training so they can grow their business for people, the planet, and profit.
Jessica hit a point a few years into her career where she felt like it could be better which lead to this whole journey figuring out what that was. Here she is today trying to build something that is a solution in making the industry better.
Sustainable fashion is focused on the planet. Ethical fashion is focused on the people. The reason it is so confusing is that it is confusing. There isn’t one real definition or one real arrival point one gets at suddenly when you are sustainable one day. A lot of people use the word sustainable as an overarching “be better” and “feel good” vibe. It is intangible so it’s confusing for a reason. Even within experts we all have a different definition and disagree. There are so many conflicting perspectives, journeys, and priorities.
This is one of those many areas in our world right now that everyone has an opinion and everyone should know it. It’s this is right, this is wrong. This brand does this right and this brand does this wrong. This brand is sustainable and this one isn’t sustainable.
At the end of the day, it’s so much noise and can be frustrating. There is no “one day” you are sustainable and yesterday you weren’t. Sustainability is a journey. A brand like Patagonia and Eline Fisher, who are spearheading the way, if they are still working on being sustainable then we are all still working. And still have a lot of work to do in the industry.
If you’re in fashion it’s a product-based industry. No matter what you’re doing, what you’re doing isn’t sustainable. If you are making a product at all it’s not sustainable. But we are all people, we can’t just stop breathing to be more sustainable. It’s being more realistic of what can you change and what can’t you change. What do you have the power to change to take one step each day? That’s the journey we should all be on.
This is Jessica’s favorite misconception to push back on. Made in the U.S.A. is a very lazy band-aid that a lot of people use to not have to look at their factories. To not have to do their own due diligence and deal with it. There have been consistent crackdowns in the fashion industry in L.A. and the garment industry in New York where sweatshop conditions occurred, underpaid illegal workers are underpaid and not treated well. It absolutely occurs in the U.S. There are incredible factories overseas.
This notion that an address suddenly means you have standards is completely ridiculous and unfounded.
“Made in” barely scratches the surface. “Made in” only means the last place the entire garment was assembled. That could be the last 10% of the supply chain and the entire 90% was made in twenty different countries.
First and foremost anyone and everyone can do is be honest with yourself on what you actually need to buy. You will start noticing that you probably have some habits of buying to feel better or buying because you’re bored. You probably buy things you don’t actually need and have had the moment where you buy something you LOVE. Then bring it home and don’t have anything else that matches with it and need to go out and buy five more things to go with it. The first thing is having a minimalist mindset with your closet.
What are the things that bring you joy?
Delete the things from your closet that make you feel unworthy or not beautiful. Delete things from your closet that you haven’t worn for three or five years. Sell stuff on second-hand markets or take it to a recycling market.
When you do have to shop, one great app is called Good On You. They are based out of Australia and judge fashion brands on their ethical sustainability measures. They also offer and feature other alternatives. Then on THR3EFOLD, they feature one sustainable brand every Saturday.
Maybe you don’t have the budget for some sustainably made products. When that’s the case you can second-hand shop, go to Poshmark or local vintage stores in your town. When you do have to buy a brand that would be considered fast fashion, make sure you’re buying it because you truly need that item and not cause you are bored. When you have it, launder it properly and mend it, find natural ways to clean things. Look into other alternatives rather than the trash bin when it becomes worn.
The most important thing and also biggest mistake is trying to sell to everyone. You are not selling to everyone. If you are standing in the middle of Times Square and yelling “hey” and ringing a bell on the corner no one is going to care. But if you are standing in Times Square and you go “Evie”, Evie will then turn around and go “What?”.
Get super granular and niche down. Keep your focus on who it is you are serving and who is your customer.
Part two is what is the actual problem that you are solving? Be honest with yourself and hard, really study the market. Be solving a problem that is already there and not creating something and then finding the problem.
Not only be comfortable but become obsessed with failure. We make it this big gloomy scary static place, but actually, failure is a lesson. There is no failure in life because it can form the next place you are going to go.
The same is true in business. Every point along the way is going to teach you something. You’re learning a lesson to help you become far more obsessed with your customer and better at serving them. It’s not about you, step out of the way, and when you do that. It will make failure less personal.
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WASSUP FRIENDS. We’re Evie + Lindsey, co-founders of this wild partayyy called The Heart University. Our goal is to empower entrepreneurs to kick freaking BUTT in their businesses, dive down into the heart of their why and how, and serve you with all possible tools you’ll need to up-level your business game and CRUSH those goals of yours.
Whether you’re coming to an in-person workshop, joining our online course, or soaking up all the strategies via this blog or our podcast, we’re STOKED you’re here + can’t wait to see you out there kicking butt.
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