As I come off of the adrenaline rush of my thirtieth birthday, and the opening event for Flora Lou’s pop-up shop I am in awe of the many blessings I have in life. The process of opening Flora Lou has been about a year or so in the making. The leap to quit my day job and open my own business was not made without hesitation or fear. But I felt as though I found my calling and I didn’t want to wait one more second to forge ahead.
My degree is not in business, or fashion, or anything related to owning a small women’s clothing boutique that specializes in ethical and sustainable clothing. Actually, my degree is in journalism, so writing this blog is the closest connection I have to “using” my degree. What I do have is a passion to educate people about ethical and sustainable fashion and to spread awareness about the devastation the fashion industry is causing people and the planet. I also have an innate sense of fashion and style, or so I’ve been told, thus making me semi-qualified to own Flora Lou.
I have come across some brands that, at first, seem to meet the requirements for ethical and sustainable practices that Flora Lou requires but upon further research their information seems to just be “green washing”. I have to warn you, if you are searching for sustainable and ethical clothing on the internet this will happen to you! Green washing happens when a company makes vague claims of being “eco-friendly” or using “natural materials” such as cotton. Cotton is natural but not “eco-friendly” by any means. Unfortunately finding fashion labels that are truly eco-friendly and ethically sound isn’t as easy as reading the headlines. In my own research I’ve found that going two steps further is necessary. If a brand claims to be eco friendly I ask the how, if they claim to have ethical production practices I want some sort of proof. I find this greenwashing index to be helpful in distinguishing the companies that are authentic from those that are just being on trend with “going green”. http://greenwashingindex.com/about-greenwashing/#how
Green washing can be easy to spot, but there are some companies that have dedicated much time and energy to making sure you really think they are doing their part in saving the environment and combating social injustice. For instance, if you google search "gap ethical practices" one of the first pages that comes up is a press release by gap inc. stating "Gap Inc. Named One of the World's Most Ethical Companies for the 8th Year in a Row." This is not a lie, but if you research who the awards are given by things get a little more complicated. The Ethisphere Institute is a for-profit company that claims to be "the global leader in defining and advancing the standards of ethical business practices that fuel corporate character, marketplace trust, and business success." http://ethisphere.com/who-we-are. Ethisphere's scoring, however, is based mostly off of information provided by the companies themselves, with little to no research into the answers. Although Gap inc. seems to be working on their ethical and environmental issues their problems are far from being fixed.
On a more positive note, I have come across some brands that are doing incredible things in terms of leading the charge in sustainability and ethical practices. The availability of ethical and sustainable clothing brands in all shapes, sizes, and styles means you don't have to choose between wavering in your style choices or your convictions.
Ethical and sustainable fashion is becoming far reaching in terms of aesthetic. I feel myself becoming more and more engulfed in this world every day. Striving to know more and do more and be better. Flora Lou has been the catalyst for my efforts in making an impression on as many people as possible that ethical, sustainable, and thoughtful fashion is important. If you have any questions regarding a certain brand of clothing that Flora Lou doesn't carry feel free to comment or send me an email and I will help you in any way I can!