Tell us about yourself – family background, personal story, education, and previous professional capacities.
I grew up in a small town in Wisconsin along the Mississippi River. For my family, being outside and enjoying the natural world was huge. Hiking and biking were our most common pastimes whenever we had a break from helping out at my parents’ restaurant and hotel. I spent a lot of days working with my family – serving customers, cleaning rooms, and connecting with travelers on their way through.
At university, I studied Global Studies, Women’s Studies, and International Journalism. Once I learned about the way that products, ideas and people move around the world, supply chains and their intricacies became hugely interesting to me. Post undergraduate studies, I secured an internship with fair trade fashion pioneer People Tree in London. This experience was my turning point – once I had this glimpse of the industry, I was hooked and all in.
I was humbled to receive a Fulbright Scholarship to teach English in Madrid, Spain for a year. Following this experience, I moved to New York City to work with Inhabitat & Ecouterre. From there, I’ve worked with several publications and companies in the space – including the GreenShows, EcoSalon, Fashioning Change and FashionMeGreen. Today, I also serve on the board of the nonprofit 1to1 Movement, which works to help each person find their own way to change the world.
What is the importance of ethical fashion?
Fashion’s impact on people globally is massive. The garment industry employs around 40 million people globally, 85% of them being women. As some of the lowest paid workers in the world, people working along the global garment supply chain regularly face violations of human rights. It’s not a question of the importance of ethical fashion, it’s the question of how we can all support a better fashion industry that respects the people that work to make the clothes we wear.
What is the importance of sustainable fashion?
The waste that’s associated with the textile industry is mind blowing. Today, the average American generates 82 pounds of textile waste per year. The big bummer about it is a lot of that waste could be recycled.
It’s all connected. In today’s world, buying organic food has become a somewhat mainstream concept. When it comes to clothing, we are still disconnected from the stories. What we wear has the potential to also be a reflection of our values. Farming does not only yield food products; fiber comes from the field as well. The more we can understand these overlapping realities, the more we can be connected to not only what we put in our bodies, but also what we put on our bodies.
What is AWEAR World?
AWEAR World is a platform that inspires us to think about where our clothes are made, what they are made of, and who made them. Through features of real people, their stories and the stories behind their clothes, AWEAR World gives us opportunities to learn more, in a community-oriented way, where we can help each other along the journey.
What makes AWEAR World unique?
AWEAR World empowers us to celebrate the positive ways we can all do something to affect the future of our planet and the humans who live here. Little things matter. While the realities of the fashion industry can be overwhelming and disturbing, we each have the ability to make small choices that can gradually, when tackled together, contribute to big change.
What other work are you involved in at this point in time?
I host the podcast Conscious Chatter which has a focus on fashion and the players in the garment supply chain. We trended on iTunes for two+ months and were featured on the iTunes homepage.
Past guests have included TV host Tim Gunn (HEMP), designer Mara Hoffman (MARA HOFFMAN + MINDFULNESS), cofounder of Fashion Revolution Orsola de Castro (FASHION REVOLUTION), winner of Project Runway Season 8 Gretchen Jones (DESIGNER DILEMMA), Founder of Project 333 Courtney Carver (TINY WARDROBE), author Elizabeth Cline (WASTE), Director of Social Consciousness at Eileen Fisher Amy Hall (SUPPLY CHAINS), organic farmer LaRhea Pepper (COTTON) and more.
What meaning or personal fulfillment does this work bring for you?
Being part of the sustainable / ethical fashion conversation is my life. As cliché as it sounds, helping tell stories about the fashion industry and how we can all play a positive role in its future is literally who I am. It’s something that’s become part of my soul and how I find purpose in my life.
With regard to organizations/companies, and so on, like Trusted Clothes and AWEAR
World, what’s the importance of them to you?
Knowledge is power. The more access to information we have – in an easily digestible way – the more we all have the opportunity to make positive choices that can influence change in the fashion industry and beyond.