Enrou Donating Storewide Profits to Nepal //
If you have been on the grid the past two weeks you know about the 7.8 magnitude earthquake that hit Nepal and the second 7.4 magnitude earthquake that hit on Monday leaving so much destruction and pain. This disaster has left over 18,000 people injured, over 2 million with out basic needs like food, water and shelter, and ended the lives of over 8,000 people. Nepal is in an incredible need of relief and support from the global community.
The Enrou team has decided that they needed to act quickly to help with the Nepal relief and has decided to donate 100% of their storewide profits to GlobalGiving’s Nepal Earthquake Relief Fund. So anything you purchase from Enrou, the profits will be providing the people of Nepal the support they need most right now. Enrou will be donating their profits from now until May 19, 2015 11:59pm. If you need to stock up on any gifts or wanted to treat yourself this is a great time to do so.
Short Interview with Gaia Couture Founder Joy Martinello //
Yesterday I reviewed a beautiful garment from Gaia Couture and today I wanted to share a very short interview with the Founder of Gaia Couture, Joy Martinello. Before reviewing the piece Gaia Couture had sent me, I wanted to learn a little more about this boutique.
What was the original dream and driving force behind Gaia Couture?
I have always been in love with clothing and costumes. I was a child actress and studied costume design in college at Tufts University in Boston which opened my mind to exploring both the creativity available to us in the world of fabrics and colors, as well as sartorial philosophy and why people wear what they do.
It was also in college that I became aware of the many degradations being visited upon our beautiful earth and upon workers via the garment industry. For many years it’s been a dream of mine to do something creative with my clothing skills that would help promote sustainable fashion. I worked briefly in sales and marketing for Blue Fish Clothing in Frenchtown, NJ and there had my first taste of working for an alternative clothing company. I also design costumes and perform for the Oregon Country Fair every summer where my Gaia colleague, Natalie Staggs and I are members of a costume troupe called Risk of Change.
In 1996-98 when I was living in Seattle, another woman and I created and promoted our own line of clothing called Passion Earth. We were hand-silk screening on organic fabrics making our own prints. This was during the “stone age” of organic fabrics when hardly any different weights or textures of fabric were available. Our fabric selections were very limited. At that time we knew what we liked yet our pieces were very labor intensive and thus quite expensive. We found it difficult to find the right customer for our clothing.
Since I knew how hard it was to start a line of clothing I decided I wanted to work in retail to learn more about what women like to wear. I started Gaia Couture with the hope that we can keep growing and changing our inventory to reflect what women ages 25-60 are looking for in clothes that fit their lifestyle. We had our lovely shop for a year and a half and then it became clear that our online store was going to be the more sustainable version of our business so we closed the brick and mortar shop in January.
My theory is if we can offer beautiful styles that become customer favorites and people turn more and more often to buying eco fashion, we can start to elevate the demand for organic clothing which will mean more sustainable bamboo forests and organic cotton fields, more factories where workers are treated fairly, and more opportunities to do business with integrity in a way that will create a more just and happy world for all.
My desire to make the world a better place and to live from a place of loving kindness are my behind the scenes inspirations for starting Gaia Couture.
Your Gaia Promise states that all your products are 90% organic or made from recycled materials as well as adhering to Fair Trade practices, how is it guaranteed that a garment meets these production standards?
I feel that I can guarantee the eco friendliness and fairly traded manufacturing of our clothes because I know and trust the people who are making them. Have I been there when every seed was planted or when every hem was sewn? Obviously not, yet I’m working with designers and manufacturers who have done their due diligence and are offering garments made from either certifiably organic fibers or fibers that traditionally are not grown with pesticides like bamboo. Could I be making a mistake in buying clothes from someone who is not telling the truth about their production methods? It’s possible, yet I’m working with people from the new paradigm who care about protecting the earth and I trust them.
I remember in my 30’s reading Anita Roddick’s autobiography about the starting of the Body Shop and the decisions she started to make which took her down the path of compromising her ecological values. I was horrified at the time to read that she wasn’t perfect, that her products were not perfectly clean.
As time has passed and I’ve learned more about how the world works, I see that there’s a lot of gray area in every eco business. Is bamboo an organic fabric when chemicals are used to break down the fibers into thread even if those chemicals are kept 98% out of the air and water supply? Is hemp an organic fabric when it’s mostly grown in China and not regulated? What about trucks used to transport the goods or deliver packages for our online store? What about oil consumption and the use of fossil fuels, or carbon monoxide and global warming? Isn’t having an online store still part of the problem and not the solution?
We live in an age of horrible ecological degradation. The people I am buying clothes from for Gaia Couture understand this. They want to do everything they can to build a cleaner, kinder world and I trust them. Are they perfect? Are they using trucks to ship and electricity that comes from dams where salmon used to swim? Yes. Have they told me that their goods are made either from organic fabrics or fabrics made in such a way that the environment is at least 90% protected? Yes, and I trust them and I believe they are.
So you have my personal guarantee which is based on research and trust. Could you disagree with my definition of 90% organic or recycled? Absolutely. And I encourage you to. Please go out and find any abuses of this guarantee in our supply chain so we can learn to make better decisions in the future.
In the face of a commercial world that still cares very little for sustainability, all any of us can say who are trying to be green is: we’re doing the best we can.
Can you share your views on the importance of being a transparent company and how you feel about “creating the path” for other companies to do the same (specifically concerning sourcing and labor)?
I think my previous answer touches on this question also. The world is full of people whose main focus is on making as much money as possible. Sustainability and the preservation of human dignity in the labor force have not been part of their bottom line equation. Many people are waking up to the damage this has caused, to the costs all of us now have to pay for having had “cheap” goods.
I can’t think of anything that’s more important than right livelihood, than acting from your conscience and doing what you think is best for everyone and everything. And for me, this includes running a company that is in alignment with my values. Gaia Couture is still in the very early stages yet I hope our values inspire other companies to join the eco fashion revolution, or to improve retailing and manufacturing in all industries.
Transparency is another word for telling the truth. I believe if you act from a place of loving kindness in all things, any action that’s out of step with that intention will come to light and can be corrected. There’s no need for judgment, only an earnest willingness to grow, and as soon as you see a more positive path, to go down that path and do better.
What role does the Gaia blog play? I noticed a really great article about body image that I totally connected with! I was so pleasantly surprised by it!
I’m just thrilled that you liked that article! It’s my hope that clothes and shopping can become more of a celebration of individual beauty than some drive to conform to any particular standard. Every body is beautiful and alive, and every body needs clothes. We try to think of different body types when we’re buying for the site. Our decision to use mannequins to show the clothes is an attempt to get people to think about what looks good on them not what looks good on a particular model.
Right now Gaia is run by a very small handful of people doing everything so there’s a not nearly as much time to blog about important topics as we would like. If customers shop our site and help us grow we would love to keep the rich and powerful articles coming on a very regular basis! Another one I really like is “What’s Your Slow Fashion Personality Type?”, an article we wrote for our website’s grand opening last November. It’s a lot of fun to see who you might be among the different approaches to style.
What are the hopes for Gaia Couture in the future?
My dream is to have Gaia Couture become an online department store for gorgeous women’s clothes for every event in a woman’s life. I want Gaia to become a lifestyle brand that offers fashions, accessories, lingerie, jewelry, shoes, active wear, yoga clothes—everything a woman needs to look fabulous and have luscious life, all in one place. I want Gaia to sell enough clothes that we can make a powerful impact in how clothes are manufactured all over the world. I want to support and encourage young designers by showcasing their clothes to a loyal Gaia following. I’m a designer too and I’d like to have a Gaia line someday too.
In short, I want to give traditional retailers a run for their money and gather enough support for organic clothing that finally making clothes any other way, and indeed living life in any other way, is shown for what it really is: completely unnecessary.
People want to do good. People want to make choices that help others and protect our beautiful Earth. In this complex world they just don’t know how to follow through with those choices. With the emerging success and visibility of Gaia Couture, I’m hoping women everywhere will have an online place where choosing to do good suddenly gets a whole lot easier (and more fashionable.)