Portland City Guide: Coffee

Known for its electric coffee scene, there’s no shortage of local, diverse coffee shops here in Portland. With 6 weeks until The Sustainable Fashion Forum, we’ve logged countless hours sipping espresso and planning this year’s SFF. To kick off our Portland City Guide we’re sharing a few of our favorite places to grab a latte and hang for a bit. Keep scrolling to discover a few of our favorite coffee shops.


Coco Donuts | @cocodonuts
1808 SW Broadway.

It’s hard to go wrong with coffee and donuts. With six locations there’s a Coco Donut’s nearby regardless of where you are in the city. Our go to spot is the PSU location. If you’re visiting on a Saturday or Sunday you can fuel up before heading across the street to the PSU farmer’s market.

Our recommendations: lavender glazed donut and rose white chocolate matcha latte.

sustainable fashion forum Portland City guide - coffee - coco donuts
sustainable fashion forum Portland City guide - coffee - coco donuts
sustainable fashion forum Portland City guide - coffee - coco donuts
sustainable fashion forum Portland City guide - coffee - coco donuts

Sister’s Coffee | @sisterscoffee
1235 NW Marshall St.

The newly renovated Sister’s Coffee is back with more seating, more lighting and an amazing food menu! If you’re craving something a little more than pastries with your coffee (although they have those too) Sister’s Coffee is the place to be!

Our recommendations: the classic breakfast sandwich and the wild coho smoked salmon (below)

sustainable fashion forum Portland City guide - coffee - sisters coffee
sustainable fashion forum Portland City guide - coffee - sisters coffee

Good Coffee | @goodcoffeepdx
1150 SE 12th Ave & 813 SW Alder St

Whether you’re a regular or visiting for the first time, the employees at Good Coffee always make you feel like a close friend they’re elated to see. Think Cheers, if Good Coffee was a bar. With four locations our favorite locations are SE 12th and the newly opened shop at the Woodlark.

Our recommendations: matcha lavender latte & the marionberry cacao latte (below)

sustainable fashion forum Portland City guide - coffee - good coffee
sustainable fashion forum Portland City guide - coffee - good coffee
sustainable fashion forum Portland City guide - coffee - good coffee
sustainable fashion forum Portland City guide - coffee - good coffee

Stumptown Coffee Roasters | @stumptowncoffee
128 SW 3rd Ave⁣.

If you’re looking for a quiet place to drink a cold brew and relax this is not the place to go. Between the bumpin’ music and the never ending opportunities to people watch (it gets pretty packed), it’s always a party at the Stumptown on 3rd. As huge supports of all things local, we love the Stumptown Artists Fellow program which periodically features local artists and artwork in the shop.

Our recommendation: woodblock

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sustainable fashion forum Portland City guide - coffee - Stumptown Coffee roasters

Water Ave Coffee | @wateravecoffee
SE Water Ave & SW 6th and Yamhill

There are a lot of coffee shops in Portland but Water Ave’s house made syrups and coffee specials like the torch-fired s’mores mocha definitely make them unique.  P.S the food menu is available at their Water Ave location.

Our recommendation: spicy avocado eggs sandwich and s’mores mocha!!

sustainable fashion forum Portland City guide - water coffee - water ave coffee
sustainable fashion forum Portland City guide - coffee - water ave coffee

Try one of these coffee shops while in town? Comment below and let us know what you think and stay tuned for more from our Portland City Guide series!


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Meet Our 2019 Conference Speakers — Part 2

Have you picked up your tickets to The Sustainable Fashion Forum yet? This is by far our biggest year in SFF history and we couldn't be more excited to hang out with you this spring! We hand selected an exceptional group of change-makers, thought-leaders, industry professionals and ethical fashion enthusiasts for an inspired celebration of sustainable fashion! Scroll down to meet some of the amazing people you’ll hear from at The Sustainable Fashion Forum this year!

meet our speakers part 2 sustainable fashion forum
Brent bout well Sseko designs speaker at the sustainable fashion forum
Seattle gents speaker at the sustainable fashion forum

Brent Boutwell is the Chief Operations Officer at  Sseko designs. Brent managed a manufacturing facility in Uganda overseeing the supply chain from material sourcing to order fulfillment. With a background in accounting, internal controls and process mapping Brent uses his skills to develop business models that make a positive impact.


Antonio Smith is the Co-Founder of Seattle Gents. Antonio has a background in content marketing, branding strategy, and destination marketing, which he applies to a platform looking to build and inspire men’s fashion community in the Seattle community.

erin Wallace thredup speaker at the sustainable fashion forum
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Erin Wallace is the Brand Director at threadUP. Leading the Brand and Creative teams, Erin has had more than 15 years of experience working in secondhand and traditional fashion retail.

Sarah Dahlquist Personal Style Coach Dahl Style. Sarah studied Merchandising Management before working for Nike for six years. She then decided to start her own business helping men and women to look and feel their best.

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Marielle Terhart is an Ethical Fashion Blogger who encourages slow fashion and body positivity. Marielle has five years of content creating, product styling and consulting under her belt which she uses to help her clients define their brand voice and inspires them to dress and feel their best no matter their body type.

Rachel Gallaher is the Senior Editor at Gray Magazine a digital and print magazine media company focusing on the best of architecture, fashion, art and design in the Pacific Northwest.

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Shannon Buckley is a notable Slow Fashion Blogger known for her authentic, tell it like it is honesty exploring ethical fashion as a ‘not-quite-plus-size’ woman.

Nicole Bassett is the Co-Founder of the Renewal Workshop, a system that helps provide circular manufacturing practices to companies. Nicole is passionate about sustainable practices and giving new life to damaged clothing and hopes to see a world where resources are used wisely.   

Watch this space for more speaker introductions—and grab your tickets for the 2019 Sustainable Fashion Forum here! See you soon!


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What to Expect at the 2019 Sustainable Fashion Forum  

It’s official! Spring is just around the corner, and we couldn’t be more excited! It’s our biggest year in SFF history and we have so many amazing things planned for the 3rd annual Sustainable Fashion Forum! As we get closer to the big day, we wanted to give you a sneak peek of what to expect. From a jam-packed speaker lineup to keynote presentations by Mara Hoffman and Fair Trade Certified and a never been done before fashion show, the SFF will be a full day of inspiration, IG-worthy moments and premium food and drink. From how to curate a sustainable wardrobe, to developing a business strategy with sustainability at the forefront, The Sustainable Fashion Forum is where hundreds of minds gather from all over the country to get inspired, network and connect with like-minded individuals under the belief that together, we can create change! So what can you expect at SFF this year?

(before the conference)

T H E W O R K S H O P

Want to learn how to put your best green foot forward when developing a clothing line? We’re offering an exclusive workshop at Hotel Lucia prior to the conference where you will learn about sustainable alternatives for every aspect of designing and producing an ethical apparel company. Whether you are just starting out or have an established brand, this workshop will give you the tools you need to spring your company forward and cultivate ethical practices. An online version of this workshop is now available! Get tickets here!

(conference day)

C H E C K-I N

Check-in will begin at 8:15AM. Located on the first floor of the Ecotrust building, meet us at Irving Street Studio where we’ll be ready to check you in. At registration, you’ll need to present a government-issued form of ID to receive your badge and entry into the conference. After receiving your badge, you can enjoy a light breakfast with our friends at Brew Dr. Kombucha, and chat it up with other SFF attendees before the day begins!

what to expect at the 2019 sustainable fashion forum in Portland Oregon
what to expect at the 2019 sustainable fashion forum in Portland Oregon
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T H E P A N E L S

Feed your mind with our series of captivating panel discussions and enticing keynote speakers. Hear from entrepreneurs, industry professionals, editors and designers about the current impact of the fashion industry. Get to know how brands are working towards a circular fashion system and how to create a business rooted in sustainability. Learn how to discover your own personal sustainable style and what body inclusivity and diversity looks like in like in the sustainable fashion industry.

F U E L U P

After filling up on inspiration from our morning panels, our friends at Bamboo Sushi will be serving up a delicious lunch to recharge you for the rest of the day. Vegetarian or vegan? No problem, we’ll have options for everyone! Fuel up so you can make new connections, mingle with industry thought-leaders and sustainable brands with electric energy.

sustainable fashion show at the sustainable fashion forum

T H E F A S H I O N S H O W

Get inspired by our eco-fashion show, an event with a unique twist that will showcase handpicked Designers to create unique looks and show off just how chic sustainability can truly be.

H A P P Y H O U R

Join us in celebrating an inspiring day with a happy hour, courtesy of Public Provisions! Mingle with speakers, fellow SFF attendees, and fashion industry leaders as we toast to creating a better future, together! PRO TIP: Make sure to have business cards to hand out throughout the day but especially at happy hour!

(additional information)

W H E R E T O S T A Y

Still looking for a place to stay in Portland? We’ve partnered with Provenance Hotels to bring our attendees an amazing rate during the SFF weekend! Check out this booking link to directly confirm your stay at Dossier! Or, this booking link to directly confirm your stay at Hotel Lucia! You can also use Promo Code: Provenance SFF on both sites!


P A R K I N G

There is a small parking lot in front of the venue however parking is limited and not guaranteed. We suggest taking an Uber/Lyft (pickup/drop-off address 21 NW 9th Ave, Portland, OR 97209). Should you decide to drive yourself, street parking is also available but not guaranteed.

2019 sustainable fashion forum in Portland Oregon
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2019 sustainable fashion forum in Portland Oregon

Imagine yourself in a room full of ethical fashion enthusiasts, designers, brands, fashion editors, bloggers, and thought-leaders all passionate about sustainable fashion. Imagine being a part of dynamic thought-provoking conversations about the future of sustainable fashion and new developments and advancements. Imagine being able, to be honest, and open about your experiences and share your opinions, to a room full of people who welcome your unique perspective. Imagine being inspired by seasoned leaders in the industry while encouraging those who are just beginning their journey.
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THAT’S what it feels like to be at The SFF! Meet us in Portland for the 3rd annual Sustainable Fashion Forum where hundreds of minds gather from all over the country to get inspired, network and connect with like-minded individuals under the belief that together, we can create change.⁣⁣⁣

Grab your tickets and we’ll see you soon!


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5 Ethical Fashion Finds Under $100

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One of the most common obstacles I hear about buying ethical fashion is that the price tag is too hefty for many budgets.

It’s easy for bloggers to ‘lose touch’ about how expensive clothes are when we often have bigger-than-normal budgets for clothing and are often gifted items through brand collaborations. The problem with that in the ethical fashion blogging space is that we (I) start presenting ethical fashion as something that may not always seem attainable for everyone.

While I do love following (often higher-priced) independent designers with a passion, I do believe ethical fashion is accessible to many budgets. There are many roads to an ethical closet, including loving and wearing what you already own, and shopping secondhand. But there are times you might be on the hunt for something new, or specific. I share a lot of Everlane on the blog; they’re known for their sleek designs and accessible prices. It’s no secret they’re a favorite of mine (you can see my picks here). But today I wanted to share some items from other brands that I’m loving too.


1 // Mylene V-Neck in Spice, Amour Vert, Made in the USA. $68 – Beautiful and drapey in the most gorgeous color.

2 // Rose Sandal, ABLE, responsibly made in Brazil. $98 – Slip on shoes in the summer are my favorite thing. These would look super cute with faded jeans, any sort of white dress and, of course, cut-offs.

3 // The Clara Blouse in Peach Bloom, Suunday, Made in LA. $86 – I have had this top in my cart more than once. I am a sucker for gauzy fabric and this color.

4 // Sorrento Earrings, ABLE, Made in Nashville, TN, USA. $48 – I’m a sucker for a simple statement earring. I love the color these would add to an outfit, especially my favorite staple, a white t-shirt.

5 // Francoise Stretch Jersey Top, Amour Vert, Made in the USA. $78 – Love this top so much. I plan to buy it when my thrifted version wears out.

This list barely begins to scratch the surface of what’s out there. This compilation is inspired by colors, tones and shapes that I love. For further shopping see my Where to Shop page. Or check out my friend Leah’s.

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Andrea was a panelist at the 2018 Sustainable Fashion Forum. This article was first published on her blog Seasons + Salt. This post contains affiliate links, which means if you see something you like and decide to make a purchase, Seasons + Salt will make a small commission at no extra charge to you.


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Meet Our 2019 Conference Speakers!

We hand selected an exceptional group of change-makers, thought-leaders, industry professionals and ethical fashion enthusiasts for an inspired celebration of sustainable fashion! Scroll down to meet some of the amazing people you’ll hear from at the forum this year!

the sustainable fashion forum speakers
Whitney Bauck - the sustainable fashion forum
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Up first we have Whitney Bauck, Assistant Editor at Fashionista. We were honored to have Whitney speak at our 2018 conference and are thrilled to welcome her back to Portland in the spring, this time to emcee the entire conference! Known throughout the industry for her unique perspective on fashion, sustainability, and ethics prior to working at Fashionista, Whitney contributed to the New York Times and the Washington Post in addition to working at Vogue.com and Billboard.

Nikki Ogunnaike is the Style Director of Elle.com. Nikki got her start at InStyle as an Assistant Editor and Vanity Fair as a Fashion Assistant before moving to Glamour.com as their Senior Fashion Editor. She joined the ELLE.com team in 2015 and is the go-to style expert for the 25 million+ users, fans, and followers of what is now the largest fashion and beauty magazine website.

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Elizabeth suzann - the sustainable fashion forum

Dana Davis is the Vice President of Sustainability, Product and Business Strategy at Mara Hoffman. After Mara came to Dana directly with concerns about the negative impact the Mara Hoffman brand was making and the need to change their processes for the better, Dana helped the brand make changes that led them to become a become a leader in the sustainable fashion space.

Elizabeth Suzann Pape is the Founder and Designer of Elizabeth Suzann. After moving to Nashville, Elizabeth began making her own patterns and selling her original clothing on Etsy. Since then her popularity has skyrocketed leading the launch her namesake brand in 2013.

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Kestrel Jenkins is the Founder, Producer, and Host of the awe-inspiring podcast The Conscious Chatter. Kestrel is also Co-Founder of Left Edit, a direct-to-consumer sustainable fashion brand that is manufactured responsibly in LA.

Sarah Spellings is a Fashion Writer at The Cut. Passionate about sustainable fashion Sarah uses her voice make ethical fashion feel accessible to readers.

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Is it spring yet?! Watch this space for more speaker introductions—and grab your tickets for the 2019 Sustainable Fashion Forum here! See you soon!


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10 Mind-Blowing Facts About the Fashion Industry

Once upon a time, there were two fashion seasons: Spring/Summer and Fall/Winter. Fast forward to 2019 and industry competition, new technologies and the consumer’s need for ‘something new’ coupled with their obsession with instant gratification, the fashnow cranking out 52 "micro-seasons" per year. With new trends coming out every week. The goal of fast fashion is for consumers to buy as many garments as possible, as quickly as possible, consequently, fast fashion has created a helluva monster.

Here are 10 sad but true, mind-blowing facts about the fashion fashion industry.

10 mind-blowing facts about fast fashion and the fashion industry
10 mind-blowing facts about fast fashion and the fashion industry
10 mind-blowing facts about fast fashion and the fashion industry
10 mind-blowing facts about fast fashion and the fashion industry
10 mind-blowing facts about fast fashion and the fashion industry
10 mind-blowing facts about fast fashion and the fashion industry
10 mind-blowing facts about fast fashion and the fashion industry
10 mind-blowing facts about fast fashion and the fashion industry
10 mind-blowing facts about fast fashion and the fashion industry
10 mind-blowing facts about fast fashion and the fashion industry

Want to do some additional research? Here are a few of the resources we used:

https://www.greenpeace.org/international/publication/6969/fashion-at-the-crossroads/

http://globalfashionagenda.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/Pulse-of-the-Fashion-Industry_2017.pdf

https://www.ellenmacarthurfoundation.org/assets/downloads/publications/A-New-Textiles-Economy_Full-Report.pdf

https://www.1millionwomen.com.au/blog/5-crazy-facts-new-fashion-documentary-true-cost/

How to Build A Sustainable Fashion Brand on Instagram

I always try to do my best to always answer the questions we receive via email and social media. Typcally the questions are centered around how to build a sustainable closet and what ethical fashion actually is but, as a PR and marketing strategist I was so excited to receive a question about social media marketing and how to build a brand on Instagram! 

Whether you're a designer, blogger/influencer, stylist, retailer, or online platform or you're building a personal or business brand -- Instagram is a great platform for visually sharing the BTS of your brand, expanding your audience and creating community.

When it comes to building your brand on Instagram, it all boils down to six things -- knowing your audience, posting relevant and quality content, being authentically you, having a visually appealing feed, engaging with your audience and being consistent.

If you're interested in learning more about building your personal or business brand on Instagram -- keep reading!

how to build a sustainable brand on instagram - the sustainable fashion forum- portland oregon 1.jpg

01. KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE (like the back of your hand) 
In general knowing and understanding who your audience/customer is is a crucial part of running a fashion business. Whether you’re posting on Instagram, designing your blog/website, pitching your brand to a magazine editor or designing a new collection, it’s important that you always create with a specific target audience in mind. In order to build your Instagram following you need to attract and keep the attention of the people that are interested in what you have to offer. The brands that are dominating the industry right now like Everlane and Reformation are the ones that have taken the time to understand who their audience is thus allowing them to not only know what their audience wants but what they'll respond to. 

The more specific you can get about who your customer is, what they like, what they dislike, their budget, their lifestyle, and other buying decisions, the better you’re able to connect with them and help them see value in what you have to offer. When you know who your audience is you can post content that you know they'll like and create products you know they'll want to buy.

// PRO TIP // How do you figure out who your audience is? Instagram is a great platform for getting to know your audience. Not only do they provide you with analytics (if you've switched your account over to a business profile) but they also give you the ability to simply ask your audience about their likes and dislikes via the poll and question features. Use them! You can also look at the posts with the most comments and likes to get an idea of what your audience enjoys.


02. POST RELEVANT & QUALITY CONTENT
Whatever you choose to post on Instagram you want to make sure that it aligns with your brand. For example, as a sustainable fashion platform if we were to post pictures promoting fast fashion giants I'm quite sure we would quickly lose all of our IG friends. Whatever your message and purpose are make sure that the content you post is in alignment with your core values as a brand. In addition to relevant content, always post quality content. Try to refrain from posting things just to post something. You want to make sure that everything on your feed is providing value to your audience in some way whether its humor, information, resources, facts, style tips, etc. 
 

03. BE AUTHENTICALLY YOU & AUTHENTIC TO YOUR BRAND
Instagram is awesome in that it allows you to connect with people literally all over the world. Not only that, Instagram also gives us the amazing opportunity to see behind the scenes of our favorite brands however, it's also really easy to get distracted. Because it's so easy to see behind-the-scenes of other businesses sometimes it can make you feel like you need to change the way you do things -- change the types of content you post, change your brand voice, change your fonts, etc because it seems to be working for someone else. In an unauthentic world people crave authenticity. People don't necessarily want a 'perfect brand' they want to support people/brands that align with their own personal ethos. Define what your brand purpose and identity are and stay true to that. Across the entire fashion industry there are thousands of sustainable brands out there that are all promoting a similar message. How do you stand out? By being authentic to your brand, your story, your voice and what you want to share with the world. Your purpose and your story helps to give people a sense of who you are. It helps them to understand what your brand is all about and if their values align with yours, it helps them to fall in love with you and become a part of your community.


04. HAVE A VISUALLY APPEALING FEED
When it comes to visually branding your Instagram feed, there are many different options and Instagram themes (IG themes are a cohesive style that runs throughout your entire profile). Creating a theme for your IG keeps things consistent, shows a level of professionalism and helps your audience identify your brand. Some people only post pictures within a particular color scheme, some post pictures that change colors gradually as you scroll through their feed. Others crop their photos in to rectangles or only post photos if it contains a particular color, etc, etc. 

The truth is, there is no right or wrong answer. You can brand your Instagram feed however you want. The key, is that once you decide on an aesthetic, that you stay consistent. Think about the Instagram accounts that you follow. Chances are they have a visual appeal to them which is the result of them taking the time to determine their aesthetic and then consistently sticking to it. 

The first 9-12 photos on your feed are essentially the first impression your audience and potential customers have with your account. When someone clicks to your account because you were tagged somewhere or because your picture was on their explore feed, you want to give them a reason to stick around and hit follow. Every single picture you post on Instagram IS important and should be consistent with your overall marketing strategy. 

Decide what color scheme you want that also aligns with the overall visual identity of your brand (your website and marketing materials). Not only will this create an aesthetic for your feed but it will also make life so much easier when deciding what to post and what your followers will respond to because it's already a part of your branding process. 

When you take pictures for your feed, make sure you edit them all the same to maintain a consistent aesthetic. Not only will this create a cohesive feed, it'll also cut down on editing time once you've found a process that works for you.  There are many great editing apps available to help you create a beautiful visual aesthetic for your Instagram feed. Two of my favorite editing apps are Snapseed and VSCOcam. We typically increase the highlight and brightness and play around with shadows and saturation. 

//PRO TIP//  Lighting has a huge impact on how your photos will look. Always try to take your pictures in natural light. Try not to over edit your photos and use too many filters that the image is unrecognizable. 

// PRO TIP: Don't take your photos in the Instagram app. It's not the best quality plus, it's always a good idea to take multiple shots to get the perfect one. The Insta camera only lets you take one at a time. 

//PRO TIP: If you’re going to repost or ‘regram’ photos from other accounts, try to do it in such a way that retains a level of cohesiveness.  

05. ENGAGE & BE SOCIAL
Be social and engage with your followers and respond to every comment and tag. It’s called social media for a reason. The more social you are the more connections you can build. It can get tough once you start to get hundreds of comments to respond to everyone but if you’re averaging 3 or 4 comments per picture, there’s no reason why you can’t respond. If your audience is taking the time to comment and chat with you about how much they love that new dress you designed or, how much they enjoyed an event you hosted, why would you not respond? Additionally, the more comments a post gets the more likely Instagram will share it on the explore page. So engage and chat with your community. 
 

06. BE CONSISTENT
Being consistent with the type of content you share, the look of your photos, the tone of your captions and the frequency you post helps your followers get a sense of your brand and connect with you.

Some creatives are able to go with the flow and create visually stunning images naturally throughout the day as ideas come to them. If this is not you, and even if it is, I recommend creating a schedule for curating visual content for your social platforms and planning your posts in advance. Having a plan makes everything so much easier. It gives you flexibility, peace of mind and allows you to spend less time racking your brain trying to figure out what to post, or what to say in your caption. This will give you more time to focus on other parts of building your brand. Granted, things may change and you may see something that you want to post right now, but it’s far better to squeeze something in then to not have anything planned and have to come up with content ideas everyday.

A content calendar is essentially a calendar that maps out all the Instagram posts that you intend to publish within a specific time period. Content calendars help keep you organized, ensure that you consistently publish quality content in a way that is time efficient and stress-free and also helps you maintain the visual aesthetic of your feed. I use (and love) Planoly (app and desktop) which allows us to schedule content and visually plan out what our feed will look like. It also sends reminders and automatically posts at the scheduled time.
 

Did you find this post helpful? Are there other business related topics you want us to chat about? Do you have any additional tips for building a sustainable fashion brand on Instagram? Join the conversation and comment below!


Everlane ReNew’s the Conscious Consumer

Source: Everlane

Source: Everlane

Plastic is a big problem. The ugly truth: there are 8 billion tons of plastic on the planet. And once it’s made — it stays on the planet forever. After it was reported that our planet has 12 years until we’ll experience catastrophic climate change — I think many of us are searching for a way to combat the issue.

Earlier this month Everlane made headlines when they announced their plans to eliminate all virgin plastic from their supply chain by the year 2021 and later this month, the launch of their first ReNew collection made from 3 million discarded water bottles. In the heart of SOHO in New York City, Everlane launched their collection with an incredible interactive installation — and we were invited!

Everlanes's first ReNew collection consists of men's and women's puffer coats, fleece sweaters, and parkas prices ranging from $55 to $175. According to a release from the brand, the ReNew collection will later launch additional products and within 5 years, 100 million plastic bottles will be recycled through the initiative.

So how does it work?

Plastic waste can be transformed into fibers in 4 easy steps. The process begins by sorting and washing the bottles. From there they are shredded into 1 cm flakes and melted down into molten plastic. The molten plastic is then pressed in long strands that are diced into crystals then reheated and finally spun into yarn or woven. Anywhere between 15-60 water bottles go into the construction of each garment and in true Everlane fashion, each piece contains a bottle count which creates transparency to how much each garment is actually disrupting the industry.

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One cool part about the installation was an interactive component that allowed visitors to access their plastic footprint. It was a real eye opener to analyze the breakdown of our plastic consumption while receiving feasible and inspiring ways to make change— allowing us as consumers to understand the value of our dollar and how easily it is to make conscious purchases.

A sustainable lifestyle doesn’t come easy, nor does it happen overnight. What can you do today as an individual to make a difference? Baby steps— carry a reusable water bottle and bring your own bags to the grocery story. Shop sustainably where you can and know your power as a consumer.

What do you think of Everlane’s ReNew collection and their vow to sustainability? Join the conversation and comment below!





8 Eco-Friendly Laundry Tips for Longer Lasting Clothes

As eco-conscious consumers, making our clothes last longer is one of the first steps to building a sustainable closet. How we wash our clothes plays a huge part in not only their lifespan but also on our carbon footprint. Today we’re sharing 8 eco-friendly laundry tips to make your clothes last longer and reduce your impact on the planet.

8 ECO-FRIENDLY LAUNDRY TIPS TO MAKE YOUR CLOTHES LAST LONGER- the sustainable fashion forum .jpg

TURN DOWN THE HEAT
It’s estimated that almost 90 percent of the energy used when washing clothes goes to heating water. Use cold water to wash your clothes where you can and reduce the energy needed for heating the water.

DON’T OVERDO THE SOAP
Am I the only one that would pour in a little ‘extra’ detergent thinking I was getting my clothes extra clean? Turns out that’s actually counter productive. Excess soap can hold in dirt and make it harder for garments to get clean leading to more washing, more water use and more wear and tear on your clothes. Too much soap reduces a washer's efficiency and dumps more pollutants back into local ecosystems

ADD VINEGAR
Adding a half cup of white vinegar to the rinse cycle works to kill gems, whiten whites and helps get rid of odors. White vinegar also naturally makes your clothes soft and fluffy and is a great alternative for dryer sheets which contain synthetic fragrances and other chemicals.

AU NATURALE
Use natural detergents and products that are free of chlorine bleach, synthetic fragrance, dyes, and optical brighteners. Natural detergents are usually plant (not petroleum) based and contain biodegradable surfactants, and tend to be specifically formulated to perform well in cold water.

DAB DON’T RUB
Have you ever spilled guac on your shirt and tried to rub it clean only to end up making the stain 10x worse than it was originally? Welcome to my life. Rubbing will most likely make your stain worse and possibly wear away the fabric. Instead, gently dab the stain with cleaner and always use a white cloth so that colors can’t transfer. One natural option to get rid of stains is to toss the item into a big pot of water with a few lemon slices and bring to a boil for a few minutes and/or let soak overnight.

THE 3/4 RULE
Even the most energy-efficient washer machines use 40 gallons of water. Reduce the number of loads you wash each week by only washing full loads. Another way to significantly save water is by not over loading the machine. Always fill your washer machine 3/4 full clothes. Over loading doesn’t allow the items inside to get properly cleaned/rinsed and also leads to torn ripped clothes

AIR DRY
As much as possible avoid the dryer and opt to air dry your garments. Not only does it save money, time and the environment but it also helps your clothes last longer. Over-drying breaks down fabrics and shortens their ‘life span.’ If you do use the dryer place items on top of the dryer to speed up their drying time,

KEEP IT CLEAN
When using the dryer make sure to clean the lint trap before starting your dry cycle. Dryer lint build-up can restrict air flow and cause your clothes to take longer to dry — and thus use more energy.

Do you have any eco laundry tips that help keep your clothes in good shape? Join the conversation and comment below!


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Use Less, Serve More: An Interview with Goodwill Industries PR Manager Dale Emanuel

The truth: 90% of clothing that ends up in a landfill could have been repurposed, recycled or, reused.

One of the first steps we're taught in order to be more sustainably savvy is to donate our "gently used" and unwanted textiles rather than throwing them away but what happens to your donated clothes after you've donated them? What shouldn't be in your donation bag and what's the real difference between donating textiles to companies like Goodwill vs. fast fashion companies like H&M?

We chatted with Goodwill Industries Columbia Willamette PR Manager, Dale Emanuel to find out!

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SFF: What's your position and how long have you been with Goodwill?
DALE EMANUEL:
I've been the PR Manager of Goodwill Industries of the Columbia Willamette (GICW) for 23 years.

SFF: What initially drew you to the company and made you want to join the team?
DALE: 
I was in the news broadcast industry for nearly 20 years and wanted to move from that industry to work in the nonprofit sector. The news industry is not a stable industry and in my opinion often imperfect because it is so rushed. Time is a luxury not usually given to reporters who gather and create broadcast news stories. Though for much of my years I functioned as a medical/health reporter, I didn’t feel I was giving back enough. GICW in particular is a nonprofit of integrity. In this position I use my reporting skills to work with the media and provide the public with information about free services that could benefit them. GICW was the right fit.

SFF: Why does Goodwill care about our used clothing? 
DALE:  
We receive more clothing than any other donation category. It’s also the category of donation most often sold. With money raised from the sale of clothing and other donations, we can provide free job services to community members in Southwest Washington and Northwest and Central Oregon.

SFF: Some fast fashion companies have recently started recycling infinitives to become more sustainable. What’s the difference between donating to Goodwill and donating to a company like H&M?  
DALE: Goodwill’s mission is to provide vocational opportunities to people with barriers to employment. Our mission. The revenues raised from the sale of donations mean we can keep all doors open to our free job services programs. Every donation at GICW provides on-site training, access to computers for job search assistance, employment placement job training and other community-based services such as career counseling, English as Second Language classes, citizenship support, résumé preparation and computer skills training.

SFF: I've always wondered this, especially when shopping at Goodwill -- once we donate our clothes, do you wash them before reselling? 
DALE: No. The vast majority of donated clothing comes to us freshly laundered. In fact, many items come to us dry-cleaned! Our donors do take special care of the clothing they donate as they want them to have a new home.

SFF: Do you mend holes & rips? 
DALE: 
We do not mend holes or rips. In fact, clothing with rips or holes does not make it to the retail sales floor. These items will be transported directly to one of our Outlets and if they do not sell there then they may be sold on the salvage market.

SFF: We often suggest people donate unwanted items from their closet rather than throwing them away. What clothing items should people NOT donate? Do you take bras and underwear?
DALE: People shouldn't donate wet and/or heavily soiled garments. We do sell bras both new and gently used however, only new underwear is sold. If items can’t be salvaged they are taken to an area landfill.

SFF: So what happens to clothes after they're donated? What is the process?
DALE: We look over every item to assess condition and value. Using a Good-Better-Best scale, items are priced for sale in one of our 42 retail stores, 5 Outlets, one of 3 Goodwill boutiques or on our shopgoodwill.com platform.  We had 8 million store transactions last year.

@ocgoodwill

@ocgoodwill

SFF: What is the difference between the boutiques and retail stores?
DALE: From a sales floor no larger than 2,000 square feet, boutiques offer higher-end and luxury brands. Our retail floor spaces can be as large as nearly 16,000 square feet. It is here we have just about everything in addition to higher end and luxury donations.

SFF: What happens to clothes that sit on the sales floor but don't sell? 
DALE: Donated items tend to sell within two weeks of hitting the retail sales floor. Those items that do not sell are marked down 50% in week 4. If the items do not sell after week 4, they are moved to one of our Outlets to sell by the pound. And if you find that treasure at the Outlet, you better buy it quick!

In unsold textile alone, which includes linen, towels and bedding, 26.5 million pounds were recycled. GICW, among Goodwill systems throughout North America, is a model in recycling those items not fit to sell. But in 2017 GICW did transport more than 47.4 million pounds of donations not fit to sell or recycle to area landfills at a cost of $3.1 million dollars.

SFF: Where does the money Goodwill receives from sales go?
DALE: 
To fund our free Job Services Programs. Examples of these programs include these results for 2017: more than 1,700 ESL classes were attended by community members and GICW employees. 10,172 Job Connection participants found work and 1,106 community members attended Job Connection Meet the Employers Events and Job Fairs. In addition, more than 4,600 community members and GICW employees obtained office computer skills training through our Career Center classes. GICW’s Employee/Community Education (ECE) program provided H.S. outreach to schools such as Fort Vancouver, De La Salle North, Lebanon and Glencoe. Since 2012, ECE has also been providing free job services classes to inmates of Coffee Creek, Inverness jail and MacLaren Youth Facility.

SFF: As a longtime Goodwill shopper, it seems like prices have gone up since thrifting and vintage shopping has become trendier. Why is that? As a nonprofit promoting secondhand shopping shouldn't prices remain the same?
DALE: While I can’t speak for other nonprofit or for-profit area thrift stores, I can speak to our price changes in clothing over the last 3 years. From 2015 to last year our clothing charges have increased by 16 cents or just over 2%. Just as it is for any business, our prices reflect our costs. GICW’s last year total payroll expenses were: $97,674,884 (wages: $75,765,600/ payroll taxes and benefits: $21,909,224). That is 5.3% over the previous year. In landfill fees, the cost went to $3.1 million dollars in 2017 from $2.8 million dollars in 2016. That is an increase of 11%. Our 2017 overhead was 4.6% of annual revenues.

GICW employs more than 2,700 people in Southwest Washington and Northwest and Central Oregon. We do not rely on volunteers, Federal, State or County monies.

SFF: What has it been like to watch Goodwill and its sustainability efforts evolve over the years and grow with the company?
DALE: Simply wonderful - I have learned so much. In my former working life I produced news stories as a representative of a TV or radio station, which does carry a weight. This position allows me to represent all of our dedicated employees and the community programs they run. It’s been a privilege to work in a business that provides thousands of free services to thousands of local people each year. GICW is a self-sustaining social enterprise functioning without volunteers. This Goodwill is very unique.  

SFF: What's one thing about Goodwill's sustainability effort that you wish more people knew?
DALE: The planet is so small and we consume so much. We would love community members to know we diligently work to stretch the value of their good intention, that donation. It’s the right thing to do. It’s important we strive to be good stewards.


Event Recap: How to Build a Sustainable Fashion Brand

Fostering community, authentic storytelling and conscious consumption/production were just a few of the larger takeaways from our panel discussion on How to Build a Sustainable Fashion Business held last Friday evening. The panel, which consisted of designers Andrea Moore Beaulieu Founder of Moore Custom Goods, Cassie Morgan Co-Founder of Altar, Marisa Howard Founder of Seaworthy, Jason Calderon Founder of West Daily and moderated by Sarah Donofrio Founder of One Imaginary Girl, shared advice on building a successful fashion business and making eco-concious decsions apart of the business ethos. The result: honest and passionate advice/tips to help emerging designers and aspiring entrepreneurs start and build their fashion business with a focus on conscious responsibility. 

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We learned a lot from our panelist but don't take our word for it. Here are a few takeaways from our attendees: 

@kaleighnjones "My biggest takeaway from the forum was hearing everyone say to start small, work slowly and intentionally. The biggest hiccup I’ve had is getting so overwhelmed by environmental issues that I become paralyzed—not wanting to produce anything. Accepting that making a fashion product is not helping the planet, but you are consciously taking steps to do it responsibly was a bit of a mental breakthrough. It was great to hear all of the research each one of them goes into."

@swedes_den "One thing I learned and took away from the event was that our customers are on this journey with us and the ones who thoughtfully visit our stores multiple times before actually purchasing are the customers we want. They’re the ones who help continue our story.”

@janetmorales04 "A quote that stood out to me the most was from Marisa of Seaworthy. "We value the product even after you buy it." Buying sustainable fashion/accessories isn't a fast purchase. These businesses take the time to teach their customers how to care fir their items therefore adding lasting value."

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@dezignsby "I learned how to incorporate what you already do, based on your lifestyle, grow slowly, and know those that learn about your vision and believe in your story will become not only customers but also your biggest advocates. 

@pschanel "Something new I learned was that gems/stones can be sustainably grown in a lab - I had NO idea! Now that changes my plans with future wedding ring goals" 

@solunacollective "Our favorite take away was the conversation about how to communicate sustainable fashion to the public. This is something that we definitely struggle with!"

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Pictured (left to right) Cassie Morgan of  Altar , Marisa Howard of  Seaworthy , Sarah Donofrio of  One Imaginary Girl , Andrea Moore Beaulieu of  Moore Custom Goods  and Jason Calderon of  West Daily .  Photography by  Candace Molatore

Pictured (left to right) Cassie Morgan of Altar, Marisa Howard of Seaworthy, Sarah Donofrio of One Imaginary Girl, Andrea Moore Beaulieu of Moore Custom Goods and Jason Calderon of West Daily.

Photography by Candace Molatore

4 Entrepreneurs Share Why Sustainability is an Important Part of Their Business Ethos

What, if any, are the requirements to be considered a sustainable fashion brand and how does one go about building an eco-conscious business? These are questions we've been thinking a lot about lately and are excited to chat about this Friday at our last panel event of the summer.

Eager to get the conversation started, we asked 4 of our panelists to share why they chose to make sustainability a part of their business ethos. 

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Andrea Moore Beaulieu: Founder of Moore Custom Goods

Sustainability came into my design sphere while working for large corporations in New York and Los Angeles and seeing all the waste that is created through the design process. When I started my brand 5.5 years ago I knew that I wanted to do things differently. 

Whether it’s fabric and trim sourcing, hiring employees, sample creation, collection building, garment rebuilding, etc sustainability is at the forefront of each process. 

It isn’t easy and sometimes it comes with major challenges but staying true to our philosophy for the betterment of the environment, our employees and consumers continues to be fruitful over time. 

Jason Calderon: Founder of West Daily 

When I started designing I didn't think about the impact clothing had on the environment or the workers making it. Over the years I started to hear buzzwords like "sustainability" and "green" surrounding products from big brands, and I started to get curious what it was all about. However, it wasn't really until the disaster of Rana Plaza that I woke up to the devastating impact apparel/fashion is having on the world. It made me change my view of the industry in a deep way; it changed the way I shop, design, and collaborate.

I used to call my brand "sustainable", but no longer do because making more clothing is never good for the environment no matter how you do it. Instead I refer to my approach as ethically aware because I do my best to consider the environment every step of the way by fostering a process of slow, small-scale, local production. I take this approach because it feels like the responsible thing to do as a designer. 

Sarah Donofrio: Founder of One Imaginary Girl

Sustainability became important to me when I started working in corporate fashion, and I saw the true dark side of the industry. From cheap labor to knocking off small designers, I knew there had to be a way to thrive in fashion, without decreasing someone else’s quality of life or depleting the earths resources. It is important to me to make my margins fair, so Everyone has access to small and sustainable designers, and one day the consumer will question why certain garments are so cheap.  It’s important for me to make small strides towards sustainability in my business every day because every element of being a fashion designer has some sort of environmental burden attached to it. It is my dream to be able to do my printing solely on existing fabrics, without having to create new fabrics.

Cassie Morgan: Co-Founder of Altar

To be totally honest, I grew up in a very remote part of the California redwoods with parents who preferred an "off the grid, off the land" lifestyle -- so I was raised to be acutely aware of man kind's impact on the natural world from a very young age. That said, sustainability as a concept and way of living has actually become way more palpable to me now that I am a mother. Before having my kid, I certainly went through the motions and made sure to follow good practices as often as possible, but something really shifted when he was born and I became intrinsically aware of the impact of my generation. I shame to think that he will grow up in a world with less resources and less verdancy because of the negligence of the era before him and I experienced a renewed sense of purpose in the realm of sustainable efforts in every facet of our household, business, and social existence. 

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Wanna hear more from our panelist and learn how to build a sustainable fashion brand from industry leaders who have made sustainability their ethos? Join us next Friday, August 24th and learn what conscious responsibility means for brands and consumers today

Why Sustainable Fashion Needs More People of Color

It's an unfortunate fact that the people and communities most negatively impacted by the fashion industry are those of color. The fashion industry is built on the oppression and suffering of black and brown women yet when you look at the visual representation of eco/sustainable fashion you hardly ever see women of color. 

"Thin white women are not the only people who care about sustainable and ethical fashion and yet these are the faces who are chosen to represent ethical and sustainable brands. We need to include all women, all sizes, all ages, all races in the design, research, production and marketing of sustainable fashion brands. It’s just that simple." Mary Alice Duff

As a woman of color myself when I came across Dominique Drakeford and learned of what she was doing with her platform, MelaninASS I had to connect with her and learn more. While POC aren't well represented in the sustainable fashion sector, Dominique is working overtime to give them a voice and a space to shine. Perhaps it's not that we need more people of color to join the movement. Perhaps we simply need to give them a voice and the opportunity to tell their story. 

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Tell us a bit about yourself— where are you from? Where did you go to school? 
My name is Dominique Chanel Drakeford and I'm from Oakland, California. I received my Bachelors degree from University California - Riverside and I received my Masters Degree from New York University. I'm the founder of MelaninASS and I'm also an educator and influencer. 


What is MelaninASS? 
Melanin & Sustainable Style AKA MelaninASS is an online digital platform that discusses the issues and celebrates the success of communities of color in sustainable fashion, green beauty and wellness spaces. It’s a content-rich, vibrant, and communal space that elevates sustainable development, social innovation and holistic living. MelaninASS features exclusive interviews and creates original editorial content in collaboration with sustainable fashion designers and natural beauty brands. After hitting our one year anniversary on July 2nd since it's official launch - MelaninASS is a bridge to connect people to resources, products and conversations that are not commonly visible in the mainstream ethical movement.


Why did you feel it was necessary to create this platform? 
Not to be cliche but I feel like this platform chose me. The Universe has an interesting way of continuously blowing wind into my afro and setting off my antennas. After being in the environmental / sustainability / sustainable fashion space for over 10 years across various industries and levels of interaction - I found this movement was becoming quite stagnant. I was frustrated by a number of things:

  • Not seeing enough black centric publications talking about sustainability, environmental justice and non-toxic/ conscious living.
  • Not seeing nearly of enough black women and melanin women across various ethnicities being represented on panels and in the audience. 
  • There was this overwhelming energy and advocacy from the sustainable fashion community in particular that lacks so much knowledge, understanding and experience with the original pillars of sustainability. These spaces oozed savior complex, lacked representation and visibility and very rarely crossed the historical context of colonization, appropriation, white privilege and lack of acknowledgement and respect for our ancestral roots.

I just wanted to praise, be super happy and show genuine love for various melaninated people doing amazing work in their own way! 


Why is ethical/sustainable fashion so important to you? Why do you care?
I think when you break it down in its most simplistic language - we all participate in fashion in some way shape or form. Your social economic background, your culture, your geographic location and your overall style share a political message and fashion is a non-verbal vehicle for communication. When you add the ethical/sustainable methodology to fashion it literally transcends style, activism and ecology all into one. 

For me, especially being a Black Woman in America with African roots, ancestry wise - how we adorn ourselves has so much meaning and even healing properties. Fashion has such a rich history of power and influence. Additionally, I'm from Oakland, California which has a prolific and rich history with radical activism through the black panther party. Black folks have used fashion as a means of protest while fighting for liberation and freedom from Miriam Makeba to Angela Davis. 

My overall understanding and passion for sustainable fashion combines African ancestry, black and POC liberation, environmental preservation and creating a circular relationship with the Earth to the best o my ability. Fashion has the potential to be a huge catalyst in changing systemic racism, corrupt industry and bringing pure peace and happiness to communities.


Why do you think people of color aren’t represented as much by ethical/sustainable fashion brands —especially since it tends to be people of color (POC) who are largely negatively affected by the fashion industry? 
It's a massive domino effect. White people have governed their existence based off of exploitation, wealth and power. Black people (and POC) have a rich history with the environment but also a complex one. Although today it's a bit more abstract for the average person to see, the same exploitation is still happening and it will NEVER properly get corrected unless the truth is spoken, taught to the younger generation and acted upon accordingly. America only works the way it does because of capitalism and the controlling of the narrative which many of us don't take the time to see how powerful marketing, propaganda and media affect perception of racism and nationalism. 

POC aren't represented because they were never intended to! Black people and POC literally come from land, linage and relationships that have all of the resources, have all of the cultural antidotes to set trends, have the traditional discourse of innovation - without America's power of manipulation - POC would be wealthy Kings and Queens and Earth wouldn't be bleeding. I interview and study many brands by POC who are doing AMAZING work but again, they don't get the love and notoriety as white owned brands. I also think there's an INSANE amount of appropriation especially with ethical fashion because many brands work with indigenous communities - again a platform for subtle exploitation. When looking at fashion specifically, there's so many inputs and outputs and a strategic massive disconnect in understanding the life cycle so it's a perfect mechanism for exploitation of black and brown poor bodies. Exploitation is literally the DNA of non- ethnic communities and it will take a hell of a fight to curb it and I'm here for it! It's very complex. 


At any point in creating M&S Style did you worry that people wouldn’t support a platform dedicated to people of color considering how white the industry is?
Nope. Not one fiber in my body was nervous about that. I knew that even at the time I created MelaninASS, my immediate sustainable fashion circle of influence was white - but because my mission was not to please or make the mainstream community comfortable or happy - I had no worry. My focus was finding all of these amazing Vanguards that sadly initially took some research and now it's like vegan butter.


What’s the biggest misconception/thing you want people to know about minorities & sustainable fashion? 
That - that word right there! It's about dismantling so many things that we have been taught. POC are not at all the "minority" ... contrary to what the skewed education systems have taught us and normalized - people of ethnicity are the Global Majority and have an influential potency beyond our understanding. 
 

Who are some of your favorite ethical/sustainable fashion designers of color? 
I get asked this question a lot and the answer remains - I don't have a favorite. There's so many different designers that I love that bring out so many different cool and exciting ways to be sustainable. I love Aliya Wanek, Kanelle, Two Fold, Chelsea Bravo, Printed Pattern People, Bhoomki, Remuse, Chan & Krys, Studio 189, Proclaim, Born Again Vintage, Iyla ... the list goes on and on. 


Who are some of your favorite ethical/sustainable fashion bloggers of color?
Samata (more of an influencer)
ConsciousNChic
Places of Bliss
Asaakemi
Sustainably Stylish
Lindsey Gene

Just to name a few


Where do you see your platform going in 5 years? What are your long-term goals for M&S style? 
I would love to start producing events consisting of Global partnership to really give the brand a pulse. Some creative formers of interaction, connection and forward movement through curriculums and conferences is definitely in the works. 


What advice would you give to designers, bloggers, creatives, and makers of color wanting to find their place in the industry?
Don't look for a place in the industry! I found my authentic purpose not by trying to fit in but by sticking out and doing so with intention and authenticity. The best way to tackle such an over-saturated space is really understand it as a progressive journey. Talk to people, do your internal market research, fuck up, journal, get angry, journal some more, force yourself to network in spaces that you normally would, READ books, create and collaborate on personal project with no outside funding, get your hands dirty, say affirmations daily, cry when you're overwhelmed .... - Understand that it's a journey and become your own ambassador with each step you take! 

FOLLOW DOMINIQUE DRAKEFORD ON INSTAGRAM at @dominiquedrAKEFORD & STAY CONNECTED WITH MElaninass AT @melaninass 


Everything You Missed From Our Style Event on Building an Ethical and Sustainable Closet

Building community and inspiring others are very important to us here at The Sustainable Fashion Forum so when it came to planning our summer event we knew we wanted to do something that was both inspirational and involved our community in some way. To celebrate the launch of SFF as more than just an annual event we partnered with our friends over at Foundation and Function to host a launch party/panel discussion. 

Photography by Candace Molatore

Photography by Candace Molatore

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The panel was entitled, The Refashioned Closet and was all about how to repurpose your closet to create an ethical and sustainable closet. Personal stylists Rose Jubb of Style Class and Corey Gregg of Poppy Lyn gave us great tips on finding your personal style and creating a functional wardrobe that fits your lifestyle. 

Identifying your personal style is by far the first step towards a sustainable wardrobe. Knowing what NOT to buy is just as important as knowing what TO buy...when you know what works for your body type, coloring, personality & lifestyle you are eliminating costly mistakes that are wasteful & clutter up a closet. - Corey Gregg
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Drea Johnson, owner of Hidden Opulence shared insight on how to repurpose 'old' items in your closet and make them new.

One of the first steps in building a sustainable closet is to go through your closet and get rid of the things you're not wearing. If you really can't part with something try to think of ways you can reinvent the piece to better fit your wardrobe and style. By freeing up your closet you can create room for new treasures to love. - Drea Johnson

Influencers Hannah Aronowitz and Nicole Burron shared fabulous advice about what it means to create a sustainable wardrobe.

Everyone's closet should be unique and suited to their daily lives. Some of us work from home, others in places with little season variation and others who never accessorize per their personal style, or wouldn't leave home without. I think the trick is to have pieces that YOU would wear again and again and that would pair well with other pieces in your closet." - Hannah Aronowitz
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Pictured (left to right): Drea Johnson, Rose Jubb, Hannah Aronowitz, Corey Gregg, Nicole Burron

Pictured (left to right): Drea Johnson, Rose Jubb, Hannah Aronowitz, Corey Gregg, Nicole Burron

To say we had a blast was an understatement! We had such a fun time getting to hang out IRL and even met a group of new friends that came down from Seattle just to hang out with us for the evening. So cool! 

Interested in attending one of our events? Sign up for our mailing list and be the first to know about upcoming events!  Sign up here


Why This Influencer Decided to Ditch Fast Fashion

Over the years the power of bloggers & influencers has skyrocketed. In exchange for money, clothes, handbags and lavish trips around the world, many bloggers use their influence and popularity to promote / praise fast fashion brands and the individuals that profit from it.

While it’s not necessarily the influencers responsibility to educate others on the social & environmental effects of fast fashion, IMAGINE if they used their platforms to instead promote ethical and intentional shopping.

That’s exactly what Emily Mills aims to do. Once a consumer of fast fashion, Emily now strives to use her platform of 12.4k to promote conscious shopping and share her love of vintage shopping. 

Images courtesy of Emily Mills

Images courtesy of Emily Mills

Tell us a little bit about yourself.
EMILY MILLES: My name is Emily Mills, I’m 22 and consider myself a wearer of many hats (literally and figuratively). I recently graduated from the University of Portland and have a full-time job at Blossom Brothers, a wine spritzer company based out of Portland. In my spare time, I work as a freelance photographer and enjoy taking cutsie photos for the gram. I would describe my style as eclectic and having no rules. I am in no way a minimalist and love my cluttered closet that I have filled with vintage and thrifted gems. I think that when people think of sustainable fashion they only think of hemp dresses and flowy linens, but I am here break that assumption.  

Has being an influencer affected your outlook on fashion? If so, how? 
I’ve been “influencing” for about 4 years. Initially I used my platform as a secondary modeling portfolio. But, when I found out modeling wasn’t my passion I began to focus mainly on fashion. In the beginning of my exploration into fashion, I was contacted by many fast fashion brands like Shein and Zaful land felt excited to be recognized by a brand with a large following. I began to need to update my feed more and felt like it was a necessity to continue to work with these fast fashion brands that could send large amounts of cheap clothing at a small cost to them. I also began to reach out to other brands just to feed my need for more things to wear and post about on Instagram 

Why do you think so many bloggers/influencers choose to partner with fast fashion giants like Pretty Little Thing and Forever 21 despite their impact on communities and the environment? 
I think many other influencers feel the same and don’t have, or at least start out with, a strict filter for brands because it’s often necessary to work with larger fast fashion brands to be able to update content and gain reposts. I also think it makes feel people important when brands that have a global presence reach out to work together. 

What made you decide to stop working with certain companies? 
I watched the documentary “The True Cost” a few years ago and it really opened my eyes to the environmental and socio-economic impacts of fast fashion on our world. I was able to look at myself and see that I was becoming materialistic and greedy to the point that I felt like I was having a direct impact on the wellbeing of the planet and people. I also realized that my posts that promoted fast fashion could have an exponential impact as more people would buy and post about these fast fashion brands. 

Do you ever feel tempted to go back? 
Sometimes when I need a basic white t-shirt, and I can’t find one at the thrift store, I am so tempted to buy one from Forever21. But I told my friends and family that I am sticking to only buying secondhand clothing and they help me stick to my guns. Eventually I find a killer white vintage T that is soft as could be and I’m glad I didn’t give in. 

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How did you get into vintage shopping?
I started collecting vintage when I was 7 or 8. My mom, sister and I always enjoyed going estate sale-ing on the weekends. I have a massive collection of vintage hats (it’s unnecessary) as well as vintage dresses and silver. My passion for vintage has flourished over the years and finding an amazing deal gets me hyped! You all can catch me in local retirement communities at 9am lining up to get in the doors of estate sales. 

What was the first vintage piece you ever bought? 
One of the first pieces I bought in elementary school was a hot pink velvet bee-hive hat from the sixties. I never wear it, but I love to own it as part of my vintage collection. 

What are some of your favorite vintage shops or places to shop? 
To be totally honest, Portland has a very overpriced and over-picked vintage and thrift market. I have a few vintage stores I like to go to: The Yo Store is amazingly curated, Magpie has a fun vibe and Hatties is great for when you need something cute to dress up. I very rarely thrift in Portland. My best tip to people wanting to score at a thrift store is to hit up the burbs and the boonies. People in rural communities often keep things longer and when items are donated there is a higher chance of finding vintage pieces at a lower cost. When I go on road trips I plan out what thrift stores to stop at along the way. 

What are some tips you’ve learned to find good pieces while vintage shopping? 
My advice is to dig through every rack. That means men’s, women’s and even kids. Finding amazing things doesn’t happen quickly. The hunt is timely but the reward is often priceless. 

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What advice or tips would you give to some who is new to the ethical/sustainable fashion movement and wants to start? 
As a young woman on a budget I understand the want to have a positive impact on the environment and society but also to need to manage a budget. Ethical brands can often be out of budget but a consignment store or boutique thrift store is a great place to start. You can find clean and curated pieces that won’t seem as daunting as rummaging through the Goodwill bins with medical gloves on. 

stay connected with emily on instagram @ms.millsie