We don't often repost content on this blog, but when we do, it's because it's a conversation that isn't happening and more people need to know. Megan O'Malley is half of the duo who WALKED across Asia in Walk Sew Good detailing the lives of garment workers. Her article on Eco Warrior Princess got a standing ovation from our team. We can't tell you how many times we here, I saw The True Cost, and I knew I had to start an ethical fashion brand to solve the problem. Did you research the market? Do you know how many thousands ethical fashion brands already exist? Do you have experience in fashion to know how expensive and impossible it is to grow into a profitable brand? These all seem to be fleeting thoughts that will work themselves out "one day". Please read this article and let us know what you think. We personal think we'd be besties with Megan. Just a hunch.
You’ve just watched The True Cost, discovered the terrible, awful, mind-blowing evils of the fashion industry and you want to do something to help. You’ve always loved fashion and fancied yourself a bit of a creative so why not start your very own ethical fashion label to help fight the good fight? Makes sense. You are going to be the change you want to see in the world.
This is my plea to you:
Please don’t start another ethical fashion brand. Please.
In recent years I’ve seen more and more of these types of sustainable fashion brands pop up and then disappear than I care to count. Each one has started out with exceptionally good intentions but it’s time to get real because good intentions alone won’t pay the bills.
Starting an ethical fashion brand is not as glamorous as it appears on Instagram.
Sure there are the fashion shows, photo shoots, trips to visit suppliers and the stories of positive impact but what most of these brands don’t promote on their Instagram is how much they struggle. And they struggle hard. I have spoken to a lot of business owners in this space and nearly every single one of them is stressed, overworked and underpaid. Some even say that if they had the chance to do it all over again, they aren’t confident they would. No one talks about the day-to-day struggle to find money and pay their staff. Nobody mentions that working in developing countries can present so many challenges that it makes it almost impossible to operate there. No one is transparent about the day-to-day logistical problems that need to be addressed before you can even think about spending time on anything vaguely creative.
So much of starting one of these businesses can be wrapped up in ego and this idea of the kind of person we want to be, rather than smart business sense and an understanding of what the world really needs. Most of us have grown up with this concept that we can do anything our hearts desire as long as we work hard, and so we pursue whatever that is with voracious enthusiasm. But maybe it’s not about us. Too many people have decided they want to do their own thing to change the world, instead of looking around and taking the time to find out what is actually needed. We don’t need another organic cotton t-shirt brand. In fact, when I google “organic cotton t-shirt” nearly 3.5 million results show up.
What we need is for people to take a step back and to strategically work out where they will be the most useful.
Where can you make the most change? Here are some suggestions:
But, if after all this you are still keen to do the ethical fashion label thing, here are a few questions you should ask yourself:
Please make sure to check out Walk Sew Good and support their journey to spread this story. If you love content like this, consider supporting Eco Warrior Princess as they've been building this ethical fashion conversation for 10 years! And if you want to be trained and equipped to start being a voice in changing the fashion industry, consider volunteering your time with THR3EFOLD to help other existing brands pivot to a sustainable supply chain they can be proud of. We'd love to have you join the team, you can check out our available positions and apply today!