Let’s start with the basics, how did you get into ethical and sustainable fashion?
I was always drawn to the idea of using business for good, but once I saw The True Cost I was all in. No more fast fashion for me. I was distraught that my habits as a consumer had contributed to the horrors of the fashion industry and destruction of the environment. Fashion is something that is supposed to help us express ourselves and show who we are. I knew that I did not want fast fashion to be part of my self expression.
Here at Dazey, we are huge fans of your blog, “The Honest Consumer”, what was the inspiration behind this?
When I first started The Honest Consumer I was a sophomore in college studying social entrepreneurship, so learning about the idea of using business for good was always on my mind. On top of that I’ve always loved going to craft fairs and started connecting with small businesses who were making a difference in their communities and beyond. I wanted to help spread the good work of these small businesses, so I started The Honest Consumer. I was in a great position because a lot of college aged students are also interested in making a difference and how they spend their money, so this really helped me grow.
We know you started a brand for people who “Give A Damn”, can you tell us a bit more about your brand?
When I would go to craft fairs to shop locally I loved experiencing the interaction between the small business owner and the customer. I think shopping local craft fairs is a great opportunity to create community and have important conversations, so I thought what if I could make some statement t-shirts that could spark more conversations about sustainability, ethics in fashion, and giving a damn. I came across an eco-conscious t-shirt supplier that shared my values for sustainable materials and fair trade practices, so I took the plunge and designed a couple Give a Damn t-shirts and started selling at local craft fairs in Seattle. I’ve always been a bit of a doodler and dabbled in graphic design, so it was a fun project for me.
When I was selling at craft fairs people would always come up and say “Give a Damn about what?” and this was a great conversation starter to talk about the fast fashion industry. I started expanding to include shirts about anxiety, not having it all together, and self love. I just enjoy making people smile and having those meaningful conversations.
As the t-shirts started taking off I wanted to add some more products and find ways to support other small businesses I love. Give a Damn Goods began growing into an online boutique where consumers can come to find fun gifts and accessories while supporting small businesses.
Here at Dazey, we love giving our customers insights on how we are able to create ethically and sustainably. We would love to hear more about your process of building Give A Damn.
I think when we’re trying to create things in an ethical and sustainable manner it’s important to recognize it’s a process. As makers we have to be willing to learn about the impacts of what we’re making, recognize where we can improve on the sustainability front, and know that there isn’t a perfect way to do things.
We’re all just trying to do our best and having that openness and willingness to learn has made my journey a lot easier. I think it’s important to find people and supply chain partners who have those same ethical and sustainable values, so that you’re surrounded by people who will support you, explore other creative solutions when something isn’t working, and remind you of your values on the rough days.
I know you are a mental health advocate as well. How does that play a part in your work as a small business owner?
I’ve struggled with anxiety my entire life. This definitely plays into my work as a small business owner. Honestly, my small business has been really great for my anxiety because I’m so passionate about my business that it pushes me out of my comfort zone and overcome my anxiety. On top of that my anxiety has also inspired a few of my t-shirt designs which is great because this sparks some heartfelt conversations when I’m selling at craft fairs. My mental health as a small business owner can be tricky with work life balance. When I started The Honest Consumer it was a passion project and something I did in my spare time in college, but when I started to monetize the blog that changed. I’m still trying to figure out my work life balance since my hobbies are now how I make my living. Sometimes it’s hard to separate yourself from work when work is so close to you.
And lastly, what are three sustainable practices that you use every day? Any recommendations for those who are just starting their sustainability journey?
I always try to value what I have. By this I mean reusing any old containers, rewearing everything in my closet as much as I can, and not always rushing out to buy the newest and best thing. I try to reduce plastic wherever I can. For me I use reusable snack bags, zero waste shampoo bars, reusable bags, and reusable water bottles daily. When I do buy new things I always try to buy from businesses that share my values by using sustainable materials and having an ethical supply chain. For people who are just starting their sustainability journey I think it’s important to remember to do what you can. We’re all in different stages of life and have access to different resources so sustainability looks different for us all. And remember it’s a process! Don’t beat yourself up because you will mess up...I make sustainable mistakes just about daily, but showing up and being imperfectly sustainable is better than not showing up at all.
If you want to learn more about ethical brands and sustainable living check out The Honest Consumer.