A Beginner’s Guide to Ethically-Made Fashion

BEVY_EthicalFashionB

Ethically-made. Ethical fashion. Sustainable fashion. Made in the USA.

What does it all mean?

Confession: When I started Bevy Goods, it was with primary purpose to put people first by providing jobs to those in need in the US, as well as supporting local, domestic manufacturing. I didn’t know anything about ethical or sustainable fashion. All I knew was that I wanted the heart and mission of my company to be focused on empowering people and building community. Then I completed the incredible ethical fashion accelerator program, Factory45, which started to open my eyes to the true cost that goes into the garments and accessories that fill our closets.

ethicalfashionheader1

Defining ethical fashion is tricky because “ethical” can mean something different from person to person. As an umbrella statement, ethical fashion encompasses promoting ethical labor conditions, fair trade, animal welfare, environmentally kind and sustainable materials and production.

Some may disagree and see ethical fashion as a black & white issue: either it is all of these things or it is not. And that’s fine. But to me, ethical fashion is a journey. It reflects how you prioritize these issues based on your value system and beliefs. One may be adamant that everything they buy be free from any animal cruelty. Someone else may only buy items made with eco-friendly and sustainable materials. For others, people and production may come first. Ideally, it would be all of the above. But for the sake of this beginner’s guide, we will start with the issue of ethical production, fair wages and beneficial working conditions.

ethicalfashionheader2

How do you currently think about something before you buy it? Style? Price? Fit? Trend? I’m not saying that I’m any different or better at this, but it’s important to realize that everything we buy has already been touched by a lot of people. And we have important purchasing power where we endorse the lifecycle (including wages, conditions, damage) of whatever we buy. No pressure, right?

But as G.I. Joe used to say, “knowing is half the battle”. We want to know that our apples are organic and that our cleaning products won’t harm our children. Shouldn’t we want to know if the shirt we’re wearing was made by someone who was treated inhumanely at a sweat shop? What went into making a t-shirt that a company can sell (for a profit) for $2.99?

What can we do? Dame Vivienne Westwood said it best:

VivienneWestwood

I highly recommend watching the True Cost documentary on Netflix/Amazon/iTunes for more information on the ethical issues with fast fashion. And for a look at the environmental impact of fashion, check out The Reformation and Zady.

ethicalfashionheader3

There is so much more on this topic. For now, here are a few of my favorite brands for women’s fashion. Each varies from the next in terms of ethical manufacturing and environmental impact.

Everlane – The leaders in transparency. Committed to finding ethical manufacturing, they will even tell you how much it cost to make the garment. Grab a t-shirt for $15, made in Los Angeles. You can’t get that at the GAP!

Brass Clothing – I just love Brass. Not only are they also from the Boston-area, but they have dresses in every shape, for every body type, and reasonable priced. They are committed to small batch manufacturing at a facility in China which they have developed personal relationships.

Jessica Faulkner – Timeless and fun pieces that are designed and Made in Los Angeles.

Eenvoud – A fellow Factor45er, Eenvoud is committed to transparent production practices, made in the US, and the use of sustainable materials. I just love her signature sleeveless tops can be dressed up or down. So perfect.

Hackwith Design – Working in small batches, the Hackwith designs are sewn in Minneapolis. I love their support for other independent makers, as well as the inclusion of plus sizes.

Milk & Thistle – So, I’m big on Made in the USA, but that is just for the purpose of supporting local talent, reducing travel costs of materials, building community and relationships. If I could pick an Australian sister, it would be Sydney-based Milk & Thistle, with a passion for textile design and committed to Made in Australia.

Jacob & Esau – Moving south of Sydney is Melbourne-based Jacob & Esau, an ethical, Made in Australia brand. I’m slightly biased because Melbourne is one of my favorite cities in the world. Just a note about Australian fashion if you’re based in the US: remember that we are on opposite seasons. As I sit here in Boston looking for sweaters and winter gear, their fashion is filled with summery goods.

Emerson Fry – I’ve been a fan of Emerson Fry since they went by Emerson Made. They are a small independent company committed to domestic manufacturing and conscious design. They are like the wardrobe you’ve always wanted but could never find.

The Reformation – Fashion + Sustainability. Committed to cutting out the middleman, they manufacture at their own faculty in Los Angeles.

Zady – Just as Everlane provides transparency for pricing, Zady offers an in-depth look at each of the people who work on your garment along the way, from where wool originates, to where it is cleaned and dyed and ultimately knit into a sweater. All supporting US small businesses along the way.

Kelly King Collective – Chicago-made, and just the cutest party dresses. You know all those holiday parties you have? Shop here.

Bevy Goods – We are merging style + purpose to create ethically-made bags for all your day to night moments. Where we (and soon to be you) know every maker by name.

Sign up at Bevy Goods to join us on this journey and be the first to know when we are launching. And while you’re at it, let’s connect on Instagram, Facebook & Twitter!

 

How my career started at age 5.

BevyGinger_3+halfPrincess Buttercup.

When I was a little girl, around 5, I had an idea that I wanted to make and sell my own perfume. My mom lovingly gave me some of her little perfume sample tubes (probably some Liz Claiborne, Opium and Giorgio) and a few old glass bottles. I mixed and mixed all these smells, and probably threw in some water. But it needed a name (Princess Buttercup! I was 5…) and a label, so out came the construction paper and glue. Then I sold the bottles, that probably smelled like The Golden Girls, to my moms gracious friends.

It was that moment, that creative process of taking a product through the lifecycle of design to sale, that I would uncover 30 years later as the thing that satisfies my soul. The thing that makes everything make sense about how I was created. We all are made with different gifts, different talents, different things that inspire and bring us great joy.  (How was this uncovered? Go read – and answer the questions in – Jon Acuff’s Quitter. Life changing.)

So now, instead of designing perfume from samples from the 80’s (you’re welcome), I design handbags. Bags that are focused on supporting US makers and giving back in our own communities. Sign up to stay up to date on our launch (and Kickstarter!) at BEVY Goods and follow us on Instagram to see what we’re working on, vote on color choices, etc.  A bevy of people – a community – can do great things and impact lives for good.

5yroldself

When life gives you lemons, make some limoncello to share with friends & strangers.

GLShopVacation

As I mentioned previously, I am rebranding Ginger Lane to Bevy. Still Goods for Good, but with the goal of impacting MORE. But there is more to the story. When I heard God’s whispers that He wanted MORE, I was deep into a time of undiagnosed physical pain that prevented me from sewing.  Orders were coming in, my bags were in their first store, trunk shows were planned. But I got to the point that I couldn’t sew without tears streaming down my face due to pain, weakness and numbness.

So I had to stop. I had to accept that I couldn’t keep going. I had to tell people “I’m sorry”, “I can’t fulfill my promise”. I didn’t know what was wrong, so I just had to hope that people would trust me and that I wasn’t just flaking. This pain went on for a year. And the days were filled with doctor’s visits and tests, instead of creating. A partial diagnosis came, horrible medication was given, but the time of stillness gave me a lot of time to pray.

God had so clearly answered prayers with Ginger Lane. I knew that He created me to make, to design, to have a philanthropic company. So why was it all taken away? He kept whispering to me that He wanted MORE. He wanted me to grow the business, to outsource the sewing so that others would have jobs, to build community, to keep giving.

So here we are. Bevy. Goods for Good. A bevy of people, a community, can do great things. I am busy sourcing ethical leathers for our clutches. Busy finding manufactures that help local US towns with jobs. Busy planning ways to continue the giving cycle with every purchase. And so grateful to have you as part of our community.

To keep up to date, sign up for our newsletter!

 

 

Sak Saum

The End it Movement has declared today, February 27, Shine Light on Slavery Day. Love the concept and love that they are raising awareness and money for some incredible organizations to end slavery. But they make a great point that “awareness must lead to action”. Ending human trafficking needs more than drawing a red X on your hand one day out of the year.

“This is how the battle against human trafficking will be won – one person, one family, one community at a time.” (Sak Saum, About)

Sak Saum, located in Cambodia, restores the physical, emotional, spiritual, social needs of those rescued from human trafficking. They are “dedicated to the rescue, restoration, transformation and rehabilitation of vulnerable and exploited women and men.” Daily life includes housing, medical attention, vocational training, counseling, studying, worship, community, friendship. In addition, they run a vocational training center that employs, trains and then sell their bags and handmade goods worldwide to support their ministry.  Shop their beautiful products!

DSC_1440

Leap Tote (it’s even on sale!)

_DSC8982

Freedom Wrap Watch

Sak Saum anna cotton

Anna Wallet

I am in awe of the women God called to Sak Saum to love and restore the exploited.

Kids Can Give: Project Night Night

KidscangiveThe boys and I recently had the opportunity to fill bags for Project Night Night, through our local parent group. We purchased items, then filled three bags, for boys age 4-4 1/2, which will be delivered to a local homeless shelter. I struggle with how to teach them about giving because a 5 year old can only do so much in terms of service. But this was the perfect giving activity for kids. While we stuffed the bags, we talked how they would be given to children in a homeless shelter, and what that meant. By the end of it, they were asking to give away their toys to the children, toys that were much bigger than the bags could handle. These are the moments you want to put in your pocket and carry with you.

Project Night Night

What is Project Night Night?

Every child who receives one of our Night Night Packages leaves the shelter owning a book which encourages reading and family bonding, a security blanket which can be cuddled, and a stuffed animal which can become a cherished friend.  We have one objective – to deliver our Night Night Packages to every homeless child in the country who needs one.

Project Night Night

In addition to the new book, blanket and stuffed animals, we included: washcloths, toothbrushes, toothpaste, colored pencils, and spiderman activity books.

Project Night Night

(Apparently my boys inherited my need to make a silly faces in photos…)

And then we prayed for each child that would receive a bag. We prayed that God would bless, protect them and keep them healthy. We prayed that the little boys would come to know and love Jesus and know how much they are loved.

Project Night Night

You can help!

Want to fill a bag for Project Night Night? Order tote bags here.