I really appreciated Robin Givhan's take on Rick Owens having regular African American women model his spring 2014. Not only did these regular women bring his clothing to life, they threw down the gauntlet at runway attendees to question their values of beauty, body shape, and skin color (finally!). These women were fierce in their step routines and warrior attitude. Loved it all.
This. Is. Awesome. Let me dork out with you about why. Nike's Making app was made for me, or rather designers like me that are focused on using eco friendly materials, but don't always know which ones will offer the greenest products. Besides, as a small businessowner, there's only so much time I can set aside to research and evaluate what materials I should or should not use. Nike's Making app will totally help a sister out.
The app lets you sort through 22 product materials such as cotton, down, silk, hemp, grass-fed leather, spandex (is it bad that I almost typed Spanx?), wool, and so on. Each type of material is then scored by four types of environmental impact: chemistry, water use, energy, and waste.
See for yourself:
I don't talk about this often but the truth is that it's not easy to make things in San Francisco. It's no fun spending hours doing online research and calling manufacturers to convince them to test eco friendly alternatives. However, it's still worth every second when you make something you're proud of, and that's eco friendly to boot. Nike's Making app makes some of those seconds a little easier.
Some of you may be wondering why we decided to lower our prices. Is it because people aren't buying our products? Are we cutting costs by moving away from our green business practices? The truth is MORE people and MORE boutiques than ever have bought our products and love our line, especially our new collection! And we're not changing a thing in terms of how we do business; all of our pieces will continue to be made in San Francisco using the most eco friendly materials ever.
Here are the three reasons we lowered our prices:
1) The eco fashion market doesn't have to be a luxury market. When I see Stella McCartney's lovely clothing and Gucci's new eco-friendly loafers I sigh a little. While it's important that well-known fashion brands embrace more ethical practices, materials, and manufacturing, the eco market doesn't have to be a luxury market. I want anyone to be able to afford our high quality, eco-friendly pieces without breaking the bank, or worrying about going over this month's budget. I realized that if I can lower the prices so that more women can afford our products, why not?
2) I believe in our products so much that I want more women to give them a try. I don't want the price of our pieces to keep you from trying ALL the crazy colorful pieces we make! It's hard to show online what vegan suede and wool felt feel like--they're super soft and light--so if more women rock our pieces and show each other that eco can be chic AND affordable, we're changing fashion together. And that's feisty. :)
3) You should mix, match, stack, color block, and make those outfits pop! We're rolling out even more designs and colors this year and you need some more extra feistyelles to start playing with your jewelry. Every morning, I get dressed and add jewelry on at the end. I stack and flip different colors and designs together (that's how I figure out our stacked designs for the shop!) and I come up with more crazy, fun combos than you see on the site. Now you try! Take your pieces off the hoop and start making up new combinations. If you take our sweet pastel lotus earrings and stack them over our popping neon lotus pieces, that's a killer new pair of earrings! You know you get 6-earrings-in-1 with each stacked pair so think of how many awesome combinations you'd get if you had two or three pairs...
I hope you're down with our reasons for lower prices. :) And if you're local or traveling to SF in the coming weeks, come find us at Unique SF and Renegade SF.
I've known and admired Mallory Whitfield for as long as I've had feistyelle as a business. Her deep dedication to supporting handmade work and indie designers through her shop, Miss Malaprop, is one of the best examples I can think of that lifts up handmade products, eco-friendly fashion, and a passion for one's city (Mallory's a proud resident of New Orleans, Louisiana).
I first learned about her gift for constructing recycled clothing and accessories when she constructed a dress made from recycled FEMA blue tarp. Talk about a statement dress! Her FEMA tarp creations went on to be featured on BoingBoing and Etsy. In addition to being a shop owner and avid blogger, Mallory has also written for a variety of publications and websites, including Antigravity Magazine, StyleList.com, Blogging New Orleans, and Southern Flourish Magazine.
Here's what Mallory had to say about starting Miss Malaprop. Read to the end for her book recommendations for building socially conscious businesses!
Why did you create an eco-friendly fashion brand?
I've always had an interest in the environment and sustainability, even as I kid. And I've always had a love of fashion, mixing and matching, and playing with clothes. So when I started learning how to sew during high school, for me it was about taking apart what already existed and figuring out how to make it into something new and special again. This was the beginnings of my first business: called dismantled. It was a line of one-of-a-kind reconstructed & upcycled clothing.
I still make some of the same stuff today, particularly my favorite denim & lace reconstructed skirts. But I've started working with a lot of other artists too, as now my long-term goal is to open up a brick & mortar boutique here in New Orleans dedicated to handmade goods, independent artists & designers, and eco-friendly fashions. I love supporting small businesses, independent makers and companies that are really trying their damnedest to make a difference in this world.
What makes your company eco chic?
I work with a lot of local artists, as well as artists from all over who are using recycled materials in unique ways. I also try to utilize supplies & services from small independent companies as much as possible, and seek out more sustainable materials wherever I can. For shipping for my online shop, I use the USPS's Cradle-to-Cradle certified packaging, as well as other recycled materials. I also include a sustainable seafood pocket guide from the Monterey Bay Aquarium's Seafood Watch Program in all of my orders. Growing up along the Gulf Coast, I've always felt a deep connection to the water and to wildlife, and ocean conservation and sustainable fishing practices are something that is close to my heart, particularly in the wake of the BP oil spill a few years ago.
Tell us about some of your favorite artists that you work with. What are your favorite pieces that they make?
I'm really in love with just about everything that my friend Taslim van Hattum of Abiqutie makes. She does these beautiful hand-painted earrings and necklaces. She started out using a very lightweight wood that she custom cuts, but she recently started using recycled countertop pieces as well. She's inspired by a lot of world cultures and each of her pieces is one-of-a-kind - I have trouble not keeping it all for myself!
I'm also very inspired by my friend Emily of Sweet Olive Soap Works. She was one of the very first artists whose work I started selling back in 2009. Her grandmother taught her the art of soap-making, so she's been doing it her whole life, and she is so knowledgeable and enthusiastic about soap-making. I've really learned a lot from her. She's also very fussy about her ingredients, and she's committed to sustainability as well. She's always updating her ingredient lists if she finds out something is not as eco-friendly as once thought. And she sources a lot of local ingredients too, including Ponchatoula Strawberries, local beers, and she even grows a lot of the herbs in her own backyard! Her All Souls soap is one of my personal favorites.
What other eco-friendly companies inspire you?
We've got a great foundation of eco-friendly companies here in New Orleans. My friends Heather & Mark of UP/Unique Products and Erin of Zuka Baby are just some of the founding members of something called the Green Light District, which is a group of green-minded businesses in the Lower Garden District that have joined forces to promote sustainability in their businesses.
I'm also really inspired by some of the businesses who have been committed to sustainability since way before it was cool, and have made a huge dent in the marketplace. I love the stories of Ben & Jerry's and Newman's Own. There are great books about each company that document their struggles and triumphs in building socially conscious businesses: