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20 Ethical Businesses to Support on Black Friday

Black Friday and Cyber Monday… they are THE biggest shopping days of the year in the United States and perhaps like you, I’m inclined to ignore them.

The problem? We’ve gotten to a point where small independent brands can’t afford to.

While the “shop, shop, shop til you drop” mentality doesn’t align with the business values of sustainable and ethical brands, consumer behavior has forced the issue.

The justification: If people are going to be shopping anyway, then why not give them better options?

So, if you’re inclined to shop the deals, here are 20 ethical brands that are offering Black Friday discounts and deserve your dollars:

vesta

WOMENSWEAR

Vesta | Modern & minimalist essentials for women that are 100% vegan. SHOP NOW >>

SixChel | Sustainable clothing, ethically made for women with purpose. SHOP NOW >>

Poppy Row | Size-inclusive luxury basics, offering sizes 2-28. SHOP NOW >>

Nine56 Studio | Made-to-order capsule collections, manufactured in Minneapolis. SHOP NOW >>

Harly Jae | Feminine, vintage inspired designs, responsibly made in Canada. SHOP NOW >>

PonyBabe | Eco-friendly loungewear, designed & manufactured in Brooklyn. SHOP NOW >>

GalaMaar | Timeless womens swimwear crafted in Los Angeles. SHOP NOW >>

milo+nicki | Cruelty-free & sustainable womenswear with Indian & Zambian roots. SHOP NOW >>

Sotela | A body-positive women’s brand, selling closet essentials. SHOP NOW >>

Dallas Daws | Limited edition, made-to-order apparel handmade in Minneapolis. SHOP NOW >>


cultural detour

MENSWEAR

Cultural Detour | A collection of accessories handcrafted from antique & vintage kimono. SHOP NOW >>

Mayor | Organic cotton, short sleeved, button-downs for men. SHOP NOW >>


novel supply co

UNISEX

Novel Supply Co. | A sustainable lifestyle brand, designed for the urban adventurer. SHOP NOW >>

THOM KELLY | Mens & womens plaid shirts made in the USA from sustainable fabrics. SHOP NOW >>

Be Kind Vibes | Mens & womens eco-friendly apparel for conscious adventurers. SHOP NOW >>


fair seas supply co

ACCESSORIES + CHILDRENS

Fair Seas Supply Co. | Organic Turkish beach towels for life’s great voyages. SHOP NOW >>

Regenerous Designs | Versatile, upcycled accessories handcrafted in the USA. SHOP NOW >>

Liz Riden | Handcrafted leather goods that work in every woman’s wardrobe. SHOP NOW >>

Mamachic | The do-it-all scarf for the do-it-all woman. SHOP NOW >>

Bevy Goods | Ethically-made handbags that take you from day to night. SHOP NOW >>

Pure Colour Baby | Organic baby clothing and accessories handmade in Canada. SHOP NOW >>


Market45

sustainable fashion products

5 Sustainable Fashion Podcasts You Need to Be Listening To

Alright, podcast lovers, this one’s for you.

Read on for my top 5 podcast recommendations in the sustainable and ethical fashion space…


MISSION DRIVEN MARKETING BY RISE CREATIVE

The Mission Driven Marketing podcast was started by ethical brand strategist Marisa Flacks, founder of Rise Creative. Launching in July 2018, Marisa has hosted guests from high profile brands like The Yellow Co., as well as members of the Ethical Writers Co.

This podcast is a must-listen for anyone who wants to learn how to effectively market an ethical brand.

My conversation with Marisa about launching a successful brand is on Episode 6 here.


spirit 608

SPIRIT OF 608 BY LORRAINE SANDERS

Spirit of 608 is a weekly fashion business podcast that empowers women and builds female thought leadership at the intersection of fashion, entrepreneurship, sustainability and technology (FEST).

Host Lorraine Sanders is a seasoned journalist who has featured guests, ranging from designers to doctors to strategists to fashion photographers — all who are influencing the sustainable fashion space.

This podcast is perfect for anyone looking for part inspiration, part tactical business advice, part education of the industry.

If you love a good failure-to-success story, start with this episode.


simply lived in

SIMPLY, LIVED IN BY NINE56 STUDIO

Simply, Lived In is a podcast started by Factory45’er Meg Floersch, founder of Nine56 Studio. Following the death of her father, Meg began to question the pace of her life and wondered, “What would it look like if I simplified?”

It’s with this mantra in mind that she interviews guests who are pursuing minimalism, slow fashion, local eating and living a more purposeful life.

This podcast is perfect for anyone who is inspired to slow down, live life intentionally and explore a more minimalist lifestyle.

My conversation with Meg about shopping ethically and always moving forward is here.


conscious chatter

CONSCIOUS CHATTER BY KESTREL JENKINS

Conscious Chatter quickly grew as an industry favorite when it launched two years ago. Boasting over 130 episodes to date, host and storyteller Kestrel Jenkins has interviewed industry experts from across the fashion world.

Whether it’s Mara Hoffman musing about mindfulness, Summer Rayne Oakes speaking about slow fashion or Andrew Morgan talking about The True Cost, there’s something for everyone.

For a refreshing perspective on environmentalism and feminism, start with this episode.


wardrobe crisis

WARDROBE CRISIS BY CLARE PRESS

With five stars on iTunes, the WARDROBE CRISIS works to decode the fashion system and dig deep into its effects on people and planet.

This podcast unzips the real issues that face the industry today, with a focus on ethics, sustainability, consumerism, activism, identity and creativity.

Host Clare Press is Australian Vogue’s Editor-at-Large, sits on the advisory board for Fashion Revolution Australia and has written three books about fashion activism.

Start with this episode featuring Kestrel Jenkins, host of Conscious Chatter, from above.


Know someone who is a podcast fiend and looking to learn more about the sustainable fashion space? Share this link with them!

Happy listening,

 

factory45 owner shannon

 


Market45

Making It: Startup Advice from the Founder of Bhava

Francisca Pineda is the founder and designer of Bhava, a conscious footwear company. We first met in NYC last year for lunch, and I learned that not only is she a designer, but she also organizes sustainable fashion retreats in Costa Rica and teaches ethical design classes at FIT.

Today, Francisca is digging deep into her advice for new designers and giving us an insider’s perspective into what it’s like to be a business owner in the fashion industry. From sourcing to sketching to marketing, Francisca is a pro at what she does and it shows. Enjoy!

How did you get started launching Bhava?

I think like most other designers, it started because I couldn’t find what I wanted in the market place. After graduating from Parsons, I started working for a high-end apparel brand and was in charge of all of their accessories. By the time I launched Bhava I had experience in every category of accessory design.

Launching Bhava was something I had actually started planning back in 2009. We had the name and logo ready but the timing wasn’t right and I had gotten a job offer I couldn’t refuse. At that time, I knew I wanted to make an ethical collection but didn’t truly understand “ethical fashion” or the importance of using environmentally-conscious materials.

It wasn’t until a few years later that I started learning about the devastation caused by the leather industry, as well as fast fashion manufacturing. This “awakening” happened after I personally witnessed the disabling effects of the toxic chemicals used in the majority of leather production. Soon after, I became obsessed with learning about all aspects of the chemicals being used, the workers who were exposed, and the “dead zones” that this industry creates.

I started taking all the  Ethical Fashion classes offered at FIT, and attending any sustainability or ethical fashion events that I heard of to continue to learn and connect with others. Once you learn the importance of our decisions as designers and consumers, it’s pretty difficult to go back. I made a personal promise to myself to make a change, because the thought of profiting from such a destructive system was no longer an option for me. And this is ultimately what gives me the drive to keep going with Bhava.

I believe we are all drawn to our unique causes and experiences. I chose to embrace the challenge and proceed full steam ahead. When the time was right we started slowly testing only a few styles at a time. You have no idea what you don’t know until you start! Sizing, fit, pricing, and what colors or materials people respond to are what I feel are really important to test in the beginning. Although it sounds so risky to start a fashion brand these days, it is possible to be cautious and thoughtful in planning a collection so there is as little risk as possible involved.

ALDEN BOOT IN NUDE HAND PAINTED CORK-2

What does a “typical” day look like for you?

Every day is different, but in general I am not a morning person. I prefer to start work later in the day and into the night and spend the beginning of my day on self-care. This includes a short focus meditation, oil pulling, some light core yoga, and fresh turmeric tea with lemon.

Usually, I try to get through the urgent e-mails with production, delivery, sales, and customer service first.  I work with manufacturers in different time zones so it’s important for me to reply to them right away. All of this usually takes half of my day.  When it’s time to sketch and look at materials (my favorite part) it’s usually in the afternoon when I am more relaxed.

Lately, I am most excited about bringing beautiful new materials to the market. I spend about a third of my year traveling to find new and exciting materials. Last season, I was in Europe and next week I will be away for a month in India, and the UAE.  I never know what I will find, it is always an adventure and that excitement and spontaneity translates into each collection.

Tell us about your supply chain. How did you go about sourcing materials and finding a production partner?

Finding a production partner in footwear and accessories is probably the most time consuming and costly part of launching.  Since I had many years of working in the industry, I had contacts that trusted me and my aesthetic and knew that I understood the business. I started there.

Now that the brand is a little more established, it’s easier to get in the door with a new supplier but it still takes time and trial and error to find the right manufacturing partner. If you start out too demanding they will be turned off, but if you are too soft, production may be delayed or poorly executed. It is a fine balance.

I also recommend working within the strengths of each manufacturer, and not pushing them too quickly into new production techniques without enough time to test. Every material reacts differently in each design — this is the trial and error part that can get costly and time consuming — but is extremely important for a brand seeking longevity in the market.

Because our mission is to work with responsibly-sourced and environmentally-conscious materials, I feel I need to source myself as I know my manufacturers will not ask the same questions that I will. We invest a lot in our materials because that is what differentiates our brand from the others in the market. I’ve had to take very expensive trips into little, tiny towns with no transport just to meet with a supplier. Often those with the most beautiful and exciting materials are the most difficult to find. Sometimes it’s not worth it, but the more effort you put in the more it will show. Materials are the first thing a customer sees and feels about your product. That first touch will connect them with your brand in a real way that words or images cannot.

ALDEN BOOT IN NUDE HAND PAINTED CORK-4

What have you found to be your best marketing strategy?

Marketing is important, but it can be a waste of time and resources if there is no demand for your product.  I recommend designers make a first sample of their product and try to sell that (to a stranger) before spending a year on a business plan. Once you know that you have a market that is in tune with your aesthetic and price point, then go all out with your marketing strategy.

When marketing it’s important to start testing because I found that I accidentally stumbled upon some of my most effective communication strategies. We recently collaborated on a small capsule collection for the holidays with NYC-based Vaute Couture. It was our first collaboration with another brand and it came about very naturally from having met Leanne (the founder) at an event that we were both speaking at.

It was something that was exciting for both brands because it was new and our products complimented each other.  This natural excitement and anticipation was evident in our social media and e-mail marketing communication, it wasn’t forced. Customers are more savvy than ever. I think they can tell when a brand has been over-strategic and a message is over-explained.  I think it’s important to embark upon projects and events that truly excite you.

For me, marketing is exciting and an area for entrepreneurs to truly show their creativity and ingenuity. If this is not your strength, you need to find someone who does love telling your story and partner with them. Someone has to hear about you somehow. Overall, you need to trust your gut, and if you see too many people trying the same approach like the same website style, or e-mail pop-up, then it’s important to think of a new way to do it, you never know what you’ll create!

What advice do you have for aspiring entrepreneurs who want to start their own ethical apparel / accessories companies?

This may seem a bit harsh, but it’s something that has stuck with me through my career as a designer.  While attending Parsons, I had one the most notoriously critical professors. He felt he was doing his students a favor by showing them how tough the industry was, often making them cry and drop out.  I actually don’t think this technique would probably be too welcomed these days, but back then it was one of the aspects that gave Parsons their reputation of graduating the best.

Anyway, when we would present our designs for a critique, his term for bad design was “markdown.” Meaning, you may think you have just created the coolest design ever, but if you truly think about it, is it possible that what you love most about your design could cause it to end up on the “markdown” rack at Century21?

Try to visualize your customer walking into a store, trying on your design, and loving the way it feels. If you can’t see this happening, or have too many design details that would create what is referred to in marketing as “friction” or too many doubts from making the purchase, you may have a “markdown” on your hands.

To run a company, you need a balance of “best sellers”  and some “editorial” pieces. This balance is something we are still figuring out, but it gets easier as you go along. I can think of a design or two that I was personally so in love with when I should have been more critical. But you learn as you go. It’s one thing to design something we would love to see someone wear, but it’s quite another to get someone to spend a good amount of their hard earned money on your vision of how to dress.

To check out the Bhava online store and upcoming spring collection click here.

From Humanitarian to Mompreneur: Meet Mikaela of Factory45

This is a guest post from Factory45’er Mikaela Wallinder Clifford, founder of children’s clothing line, Ruth & Ragnar. You can view the original post here

My name is Mikaela and I have a story to tell.

My intention is for the story to end with “…and that’s how fun, funky and color-popping kidswear changed the fast fashion industry forever.“ I can’t write that just yet because we are still at the beginning of the story. But, I would love for you to join me on the journey, and be here with me when we reach our goal. It will be like my favorite children’s movie “The NeverEnding Story”. I’ll be Atreyu (I’ve always wanted to be Atreyu!) and you’ll be Bastian reading about Atreyu’s journey only to find yourself eventually inside the story by helping me shape it.

mikaela-1 copy

Follow me back to my hometown in Northern Sweden, back to my graduation day where I’m standing with my diploma in one hand, a one-way plane ticket in the other and my whole body filled with passion and determination to make a change in the world. We’ll go to Africa, Asia, Europe, and America where I first realized the global impact of our consumption. Follow me back to the day my worldview and my life changed forever — the day my daughter Milou was born.

Join me in all that happens next, from the frustration of learning what chemicals were in the clothes my daughter wore, to the idea of trying to make a change, to the initial spark that shaped the mission for Ruth & Ragnar.

mikaela-2 copy

Join me in the determination to support manufacturing at home – we will proudly be sourcing and creating everything right here in the USA. I hope you’ll join me as I meet the pattern maker, the Texas cotton farmer and the inspiring North Carolina printer who took quite a few extra steps to help me as I shape my brand.

Join me as I introduce you to the designers of the organic Scandinavian brands soon to be available right here as I launch Ruth & Ragnar’s web store.

Join me while I’m learning how to turn an idea into reality, how to get back up and keep going when experts tell me it can’t be done. Stay close as I launch Ruth & Ragnar, a socially-responsible apparel company for kids and conscious parents alike. Finally, join the roller coaster ride that is the everyday life with a toddler, the most wonderful, exhausting, educational, provoking, spiritual, humbling and loving experience I have ever had.

mikaela-3 copy

Join the story, Share your story, Shape the story. Let’s change the fast fashion industry — one funky garment at a time.twitter-bird-light-bgs1

Welcome to Ruth & Ragnar.

All photos courtesy of Ruth & Ragnar.

6 Things You Should Know About Your Clothes

Not too long ago, I received this comment on one of my posts: “I want to know more about what you know. I’m such a mindful consumer when it comes to food but have never thought about how my purchasing decisions with clothes, etc could be negatively impacting the change I so emotionally pursue.”

It inspired me to go back to the basics, realizing again how new the sustainable fashion movement is to most consumers. For those of you wondering why you should care about what’s in your closet, here are the big six:

1.) There are chemicals on your clothes. And they’re often carcinogenic. (Carcinogenic = cancer-causing). While the slow food movement is starting to catch on and consumers are becoming increasingly more conscious of what they eat, we don’t yet think of clothing in the same way.

Most of us haven’t caught on that the pesticides, insecticides, formaldehyde and flame-retardants on our clothes are also damaging to our health. Skin is our body’s largest organ and it instinctively absorbs whatever we put on it — clothing chemicals included.

(Next time you’re browsing through the racks at your favorite big box retailer, rub your finger tips together. You’ll notice a grimey film that has transferred off the clothing and onto you.)

2.) There are 27 to 30 million slaves in the world today. Yes, slaves.

Have you ever wondered how companies like Zara and Forever 21 can sell t-shirts for 5 dollars?

There are people in countries such as Uzbekistan, Cambodia, Bangladesh and India who are forced to work against their will. Whether they’re picking cotton or tanning leather, they aren’t being paid to make your clothing. They are literally bound to a life of enslavement with very little hope of getting out.

Factory workers who are being paid are probably who you would think of as “sweatshop” workers and are most likely earning less than a living wage — that means they can’t afford to feed or shelter themselves, let alone their families. In 2012, a Swedish broadcaster reported that workers in Cambodia were being paid so little they had to borrow money for food.

3.) Big retailers are a big problem.

Our bargain shopping, big sale seeking, cheap consumer mentality is directly related to the people making our clothing. Because we expect to be able to buy a shirt for less than 20 bucks, retailers are forced to find ways to lower costs and compete in a highly-saturated market. This usually requires cutting corners in manufacturing overseas.

In November, H&M made a public statement saying it plans to deliver a “living wage” to more than 850,000 textile workers by 2018. While it sounds like a noble gesture, it raises the question of why the giant retailer wasn’t paying its workers fairly in the first place. In the past, H&M has been accused of promoting poverty pay, unsafe working environments and malnutrition.

H&M is not alone — Forever 21, Inditex (the parent company of Zara), GAP, JC Penney, and many more, are major players in human rights and labor issues around the world.

4.) Our old clothes (and disposable behavior) are ruining Africa’s economy.

Ready to drop off a big pile of donations at your local Goodwill? While the reselling of second-hand clothes is ethically sound, it’s the massive amounts of donations that cause a problem. Goodwill, Salvation Army, and the like, receive more clothing donations than they could ever resell. So what happens to the excess?

According to an op-ed in The Business of Fashion, “The majority of donated clothing is sold to second-hand clothing merchants, who sort garments, then bundle them in bales for resale, usually outside the country in which the clothing was originally donated.”

In Sub-Saharan Africa, where one-third of all globally donated clothes are sold, the used clothing business is undermining Africa’s own textiles and manufacturing industry. Even more, “dumping” our unwanted clothing into countries on the other side of the world gives us an unrealistic sense of security that we can continue to consume and throw away at unsustainable rates.

5.) It takes decades for your clothing to decompose in a landfill.

The fast fashion industry has turned four regular seasons into 52 “microseasons” to push new trends and encourage rapid consumption. Retailers make it easy for shoppers to buy a cheap dress, wear it once, and never wear it again. We don’t think about where those clothes go after we’re done with them.

The average American throws away 68 pounds of clothing per year. Nylon, rayon, polyester and other synthetic materials are essentially plastics that will most likely be around for far longer than you will. At the rate consumer waste is piling up, it doesn’t look good for the future of the planet.

6.) We’re not helpless.

Consumers have the purchasing power. We all have the ability to change the industry by choosing which companies deserve our dollars. It comes down to educating yourself and adjusting your lifestyle in a way that doesn’t require excessive consumption of disposable clothing.

Education can be as simple as following a few ethical fashion blogs on Facebook. You’ll learn something throughout the day just from reading the headlines. (A few of my favorites are: EcouterreEcoSalonMagnifeco & Ethical Fashion Forum.)

What more can you do? Read my follow-up post, 4 Things to Remember Every Time You Shop For Clothes on the Huffington Post.


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