How to Find Ethical and Sustainable Clothing Easily with Erin Houston

How can we easily find ethical and sustainable clothing? A conversation with Wearwell's co-founder Erin Houston. The For Animals For Earth Podcast, episode 32.

Do you find yourself wanting to buy ethical and sustainable clothing?  But it takes forever to find brands that you trust?  I wanted:

  • laborers paid a living wage,
  • ethical working conditions,
  • sustainable materials,
  • sustainable processes,
  • cruelty free,
  • net zero carbon emissions….

The list goes on doesn’t it?! And it’s really hard to find brands that openly communicate all of these things.

But I found a company that has made it super easy, and one of the founders, Erin Houston, from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania came on the podcast today!

Erin Houston and Emily Kenney started Wearwell in 2019.  Wearwell is a membership service that makes finding ethical and sustainable clothing easy.  I joined the service about 6 months ago, and I have been in love.

I recently became an ambassador, and I can’t wait to be a part of Wearwell’s movement into the future.  I cannot recommend this company more.

You can check out their service here.  And try 1 month free!

(Disclaimer: As a Wearwell ambassador, I earn on qualifying purchases with no additional cost to you.  Wearwell is the first brand that I have ever signed up to be an affiliate for, and I only recommend them because I very much believe in their brand.  I hope you’ll check them out!)

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5 Simple Ideas To Make a Difference:

1. FIND A TAILOR.  Find someone close by (or ourselves with DIY videos) to tailor our clothing to fit us better, to make repairs, and to help us up-cycle pieces into a new style that is more modern.

2. TAKE BETTER CARE OF OUR CLOTHES.  The way we wash our clothes has a big impact on their elasticity and longevity.  Follow instructions on tags.  Air dry, rather than using a dryer.  And wear a few times before washing.

3. PROGRESS OVER PERFECTION.  No matter where we are on the spectrum of ethical and sustainable clothing, there will be one step that we can take forward.  We should wait until we need a new piece.  And when we do, make it as ethical and sustainable as possible in that moment of our lives.  And keep our focus to just that one piece of clothing.  Don’t get overwhelmed.

4. TALK TO A FRIEND.  Share our journey with our friends and get ideas from them.  This ripples out into the world and the tide is changing.  We’ll continue to have power in numbers as conscious consumerism grows.

5. THE TRUE COST DOCUMENTARY. Watch “The True Cost” to learn more about the challenges in the fashion industry.

What is Wearwell?

Wearwell is making it easier than ever to build an ethical and sustainable wardrobe.  They do this with an online membership service, through which we can easily discover and buy clothing that pays garment workers fairly, and uses environmentally sustainable materials.

Part of the membership service includes a personal stylist.  The stylist gets to know our body style and preferences.  And he or she helps us find new pieces.

Wearwell also has a new marketplace, in addition to the membership service, where shoppers can purchase gifts for themselves or others.  Everything in the marketplace holds strong to their impact criteria: fair and living wages and positive environmental focus.

How Wearwell Started:

Co-founders Erin Houston and Emily Kenney both come from careers in international development, with a passion for positive impact in developing countries.

Erin worked for a media company that helped Fortune 500 companies communicate the impact that their supply chains were having on developing countries.  Examples include:

  • an international bank that began providing credit to women, without needing a man to sign for it
  • a pharmaceutical company that was getting vaccines to the last mile

When Rana Plaza collapsed in 2013, Erin realized that her portfolio included every industry but fashion.  She dug in and grew to believe that the fashion industry was not going to change until consumers demanded it.  And she began researching how she herself could play a part in that.

Emily worked for household brand NGO’s like The American Red Cross in Cambodia and India.  By living in Cambodia and India, she grew a wealth of knowledge about working in developing countries.

She specifically focused on impact measurement, for example measuring child protection issues and figuring out if the NGO programs were really making the impact that they wanted to.  Emily grew a network in Phnom Penh of strong ethical and sustainable clothing manufacturers.

Over dinner one night, the ladies were comparing their lists of ethical and sustainable clothing brands, and they thought that there had to be an easier way.  Wearwell was born in an effort to make ethical and sustainable clothing easy for EVERYONE.

Becoming More Inclusive:

Wearwell just began offering ethical and sustainable clothing up to size 20 and 2X.  Erin mentions that this is one small step in the direction of where they want to go.

They want to be a company that offers something to people of all shapes and sizes, genders, and backgrounds.  Erin mentions that the ethical and sustainable fashion industry is talking a lot about how to increase diversity and move away from a primarily white base.  Wearwell is working to figure out how to increase the number of black owned businesses that they work with and support.

In addition to sourcing, Wearwell is soon launching their first step at circularity in ethical and sustainable clothing too.  They will be rolling out a second hand store soon that will incentivize Wearwell’s customers to take good care of their clothing and sell it back when they are finished.

This new second hand program will also introduce ethical and sustainable clothing at a more accessible price, which they hope will allow more people to join.

Podcast Transcript:

This episode was transcribed with ai technology from otter.ai.  Please excuse any typos or incorrect language.

Brandy Montague 0:00
Welcome to episode number 32 of the for animals for Earth podcast: ethical and sustainable clothing made easy with Erin Houston.

Erin Houston 0:10
Unfortunately there’s always a trade off, and what it really comes down to is figuring out what trade offs. Are you okay with for now and how do you continue to address that, as you grow in your understanding of the issue and as brands start to improve their job, there’s some really cool stuff happening in fabric innovations right now.

Brandy Montague 0:27
That was Erin calling in from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Yeah, so Erin started were well with her co founder Emily Kenny, which is a membership service that makes finding ethical and sustainable clothing, easy. I would guess that if you have started thinking about fashion differently, let’s say you’re wanting to buy only clothing that laborers were paid a living wage. You want to know that there were ethical working conditions there were sustainable materials sustainable processes, nothing was tested on an animal, nothing was actually used from any animal and it was cruelty free there were no net zero carbon, or there weren’t net zero carbon emissions. I mean the list just goes on and my guess is that if you’ve started to look for brands, with your values you’re finding it extremely difficult to find places that you can shop. So where will makes it easy, and you’re going to learn more in this episode about how they do that. If you want to try well I just became an ambassador for the company and you guys I’m telling you, this is the first time that I have ever become an affiliate for a brand. I’ve held off on this for a long time because I really don’t want to be an affiliate unless I believe, really, really deeply in the brand, so I’m telling you I believe so deeply and well. And if you’re interested in checking it out the my Ambassador link is in the description and you get to try it for free so there’s no reason not to go look and see what wearables all about. So, today’s show notes and video of my interview with Erin, they can be found at foranimalsforearth.com/podcast/32.

Brandy Montague 2:15
Hi there this is Brandy and you’re listening to the for animals for Earth podcast. This is a space where we inspire each other to take small steps every day to live a more conscious life to helping the animals in the planet, while we do it. I’m so glad that you’re here. Let’s all take a deep breath and let’s get started.

Erin Houston 2:42
Emily and I and my co founder and I both have gone through that experience personally of really kind of being paralyzed by what does it mean to be a conscious consumer and shop for your clothing and accessories because of the sea of information you’ve got to go through to be able to actually make a choice. And I’m excited to be chatting with you about that today and learning a little bit more about what that was like for you too.

Brandy Montague 3:04
Yeah, awesome let’s start with why don’t you tell us what is wearwell, so we’ll bring everybody up to speed who’s here going “What are they talking about?”

Erin Houston 3:15
you alluded to, wearwell is making it really easy to buy ethically sustainably made clothing and we do that with an online membership service, through which you can discover and of course, purchase clothing that pays government workers fairly and uses environmentally sustainable materials.

Erin Houston 3:32
I’ll walk everyone through the membership experience to kind of get a sense of what that is, essentially you come to our site you start a style quiz until that’s all about your personal style your sizing, how much you typically spend on different clothing items, and the type of impact that you care most about. And then when you sign up for membership. As a part of that membership you receive a monthly selection of clothing and accessories that is curated for you by a personal stylist and that selection is delivered to you digitally so you get a link in your inbox, you open up that link and browse your online storefront for that month you view the items that are chosen or 12 included there, and you can add what you want to your cart and you check out and they ship you only what it is.

Erin Houston 4:14
So again, making it really, really easy and effortless to be able to shop for ethically and sustainably made clothing, we’re partnered with brands that meet specific impact criteria, where we can feel really confident and putting them in front of our membership and be able to say you know what this fits your personal style it fits your budget, and it actually makes the impact the branded thing.

Brandy Montague 4:35
What are the criteria that you use to choose a brand?

Erin Houston 4:39
Yeah, so this is where it can get really hairy and this is why this is such a complicated issue right so something can be ethically and sustainably made in a lot of different ways, there is no people always throughout their jobs when they hear me, but there is no way to build a completely ethical and sustainable brand, the only way to do that is if we all decided we no longer needed clothing.

Erin Houston 5:04
So when it comes to advocacy stainability, we tend to break that down into two buckets of criteria. The first is workers rights, we want to know that a fair or living wage is being provided to whomever made it and that is really dependent on a couple of different things I’ll share a little bit more about our founders background, and why we go deep on this part of it. But we’re looking for very specifically fair and living wages for garment workers as well as artisans and that always depends on the production context as well as the country context and community context in which they’re making the product. So, workers rights can be pretty straightforward. Also, they’ll look for criteria of Do they have access to a safe work environment, do they have the right to unionize in that work environment. And the list goes goes on, there’s a published list on our website if anybody wants to dive in further, but on the sustainability side, this is again where it can be really really interesting and fun to dive in, if you have the time and energy to do so.

Erin Houston 6:00
But on the sustainability side, a brand can be using upcycled materials and what that means is they are presenting what we call deadstock fabric and fashion straight up leftover fabric from a round of T shirts for example, they can use that material to make a small production run of a different type of piece of clothing, and by using that type of deadstock material. They’re there making sure that doesn’t go to landfill. That’s one way they can use organic materials they can have a circular business model where you’re buying something and then you send it back to them they take the fibers apart and make something brand new with it. So it’s completely zero waste. We also partner with a brand that I really love that it has a complete zero weight factory they reuse the threads to even make stationery at the end of the day, so you can meet the criteria and a lot of different ways and what we’re really looking for is that a brand meets criteria and both of those areas. So we always want to know at the end of the day, when you’re making a purchase through this brand. Are you making an impact, just by making a purchase, we don’t necessarily do give back or donation models, unless again making a positive impact on you’re truly just making that purchase of the, of the clothing or accessory.

Brandy Montague 7:10
You know, thank you for explaining that and for bringing up the fact that it’s not easy to be perfect and there is no such thing as a perfect brand or a perfect manufacturer or production of a brand because I think I don’t know just my experience, personally, I have I have a tiny little clothing line that just helps various animal welfare groups and I started that back in 2015 2016, and I went through so much. I guess heartache, trying to figure out, well how do I make this in a way that is purely sustainable so you know I’m choosing organic cotton, but then organic cotton uses a lot of water, and I’m choosing recycled plastic but then you know that goes through a process and then I’m choosing a USB and you just kind of you, you find that there are so many layers and so many complexities, to the fashion industry that a lot of times we see a headline that tells us this is what you should do to be good to the earth, or whatever but you know it’s it’s that that headline was made by a specific group so anyway I just I just want to say that I appreciate you bringing that up and saying that because I feel like that’s something that just can like bet, a little bit of pressure off of all of us, you know, it’s like, you can do a lot by taking a step in the right direction and choosing a brand that you feel good about without having to feel like you have to be so perfect.

Erin Houston 8:50
Yeah, we’re always talking about progress over perfection and when you look at it at a really macro level, the fashion industry is very behind in ethics and sustainability is, like, light years behind other industries and that’s because there hasn’t been a lot of incentive for the industry to change and so as a consumer, the burden is on us many times, to have to exercise our purchasing power for the types of causes we believe in like animal protection for example, and when you start tackling it you can really dive in deep and start to see that, unfortunately there’s always a trade off, and what it really comes down to is figuring out what trade offs Are you okay with for now and how do you continue to address that, as you grow in your understanding of the issue and as brands start to improve there’s that there’s some really cool stuff happening in fabric innovation right now. For example, like pineapple leather is happening. Still though often has a coating that requires some sort of use of oil on top of it and so it’s a step in the right direction, but it’s not 100% sustainable and so you have to think about, like, Okay, how do I actually make a difference, and the ways that I can right now and really strive for just that progress in that journey.

Brandy Montague 10:04
Yeah, I really love that. Can you tell us you alluded to this a little bit earlier but can you tell us more about your history, and how, how you met Emily and in the history between the two of you that you have that brought you to the point of starting where well yeah

Erin Houston 10:23
So Emily and I, we met in grad school several years ago and we both come from the international development world. So we’ve never been fashion industry veterans who’ve done some work and some consulting with fashion industry companies but at the end of the day, the two of us have always had a career focus on impact in some way. And both of us have realized several years ago shortly after we met that we were both trying to figure out how to shop for ethically and sustainably made clothing and that came from slightly different motivations, because of what our work experience really looked like in that moment, so I’ll share a little bit of more about my own and then dive into Emily’s way more interesting.

Erin Houston 11:07
But I was working for a media company that serves the global development industry, and I was working with really large fortune 500, helping them communicate about the impact of their supply chains and developing communities so I was working with, for example, the banking industry helping helping a corporation in the banking industry, talk about how they’re providing access to credit for women in developing communities where they would historically need a male cosigner really really powerful work similarly pharmaceutical companies getting back to last mile really important today, right and so company’s doing really amazing things. And shortly after the Rana Plaza factory collapse that happened several years ago, for those are familiar with the factory that collapse in Bangladesh, killed about 1000 garment workers and injured about 2000 more. And I realized when that headline crossed my desk as a media company that I was working at and I had every single industry represented in my portfolio, except for passionate apparel. And so I started diving into figure out what is really the challenge here Why doesn’t anyone in this industry want to be talking about it. And as I started to dive in deeper I really developed a strong belief that the fashion industry isn’t going to care about talking about this, or ultimately care about thinking that way until consumers demand it. And so I dove in deep to try to figure out what does it look like for myself to build an ethical sustainable wardrobe and immediately discovered it takes a ton of time to have to research it takes a master’s degree to understand a lot of the certification.

Erin Houston 12:42
Meanwhile, Emily was doing a lot of similar research. She was literally downloading research reports, and sustainability reports to try to dive in and figure out how can she buy a T shirt and feel okay about the type of impact that she was making with that purchase and Emily’s background is also available development as I mentioned, but she was working for household brand NGOs at the American Red Cross for example, and prior to moving to Philadelphia where we’re headquartered, she was living and working in Cambodia and before that India, prior to grad school, and has just this incredible experience and wealth of knowledge of working in developing communities, and particularly most recently prior to working in communities that in Cambodia is a major garment producing country and so she was creating for herself a network of ethical sustainable fashion brands that were propping up in Phnom Penh really strong cultural ethical sustainable fashion. That’s kind of underground compared to what we think about with that major fashion industry production there and really building out and understanding not just a network, but an understanding of what it meant to build a company that could really walk the talk in this space, but her background is is very deeply rooted in impact measurement so she was working on for example child protection issues in Cambodia, and really trying to figure out is this NGO or is this group, making impact that they are intending to in the long run in this community and started to translate that framework to her understanding of her own purposes and ethics and sustainability and particularly in clothing, and again with, with going through that process of weeding through all of the all of the details and we caught up over dinner one night, and both realized we were working on these same issues independently and started comparing lists of ethical sustainable fashion brands and said you know what this has got to be easier for consumers. And that was really the starting point for us is just trying to discover how to create a business that is supportive to brands that are walking the talk and how do we create a business that makes it easy for everybody to build an ethical sustainable wardrobe.

Brandy Montague 14:54
Wow, it’s such a cool story. To Have you had such fun exciting lives so far. Like, how, how, oh my gosh how much fun to be involved with the things that you were involved with and how much fun to not only be able to solve the problem on the consumer side but to be able to help people that you’ve met along the way who are working hard to make brands that are sustainable and ethical, you know, I just think, what a neat intersection. How long ago did you guys start.

Erin Houston 15:34
We started actually as a project in grad school at American University. So we started as a project, ran an Indiegogo campaign ran a beta, we launched the business in its current form in 2019 so not too long ago.

Brandy Montague 15:48
Okay, wow so yeah it is pretty new. In what way to go. I mean I just think that’s so cool though I, I really, I love seeing it kind of it I guess it’s in its infancy stages. And I just think it’s really exciting and I hope that you know people listening I think are going to get excited by that too. I personally love to learn about new things that are happening, and feel a part of it and so I have a feeling, people will be excited about that as well.

Brandy Montague 16:23
I know that you have a few different ways for people to get involved. Do you still have I know you had an investment campaign going on is that still going on is not still going on.

Erin Houston 16:38
We did run a crowd investment campaign that was really an opportunity to bring our earliest customers into the business in a way where they could support our growth and also reap the benefits of it as investors, but that close last fall.

Brandy Montague 16:50
Okay, okay. But yeah, so, for people who I don’t know if I mentioned this at the beginning, but Erin and I were talking I signed up to be an ambassador for where well because I have been using the product now for the product the service for, I don’t know six seven months and I’ve just been so excited by it and I was telling Erin, and those of you who who follow for animals for Earth know that I don’t so easily jump into being an ambassador for anything this is the first time I’ve ever signed up that I could remember to be an ambassador for something but I am just so excited to share well with everybody and I want people to try it out so if anybody is watching and they want to go see what Erin’s offering though, there’s a link in the description and there’s links in our show notes and all of that. So that’s a really great place for people to start to jump over and kind of see what you’re doing.

Brandy Montague 17:44
I think another important part of your business that we haven’t really dug into yet is the stylist piece. So I think that my stylist today Megan so for anyone who ends up like going over and see get you might find Megan but there’s an aspect to this where you get to have somebody help you kind of figure out what is your own personal brands almost and your style and what kind of clothing, can you start to center in on that. Not only does this thing of finding you ethical and sustainable clothing, but it also finds that clothing that fits into your style preferences. And I think that is a whole nother level of making it easy for people. And so I wondered if you talk a bit about your stylists like where do you find them. Yeah. Where do you find them.

Erin Houston 18:40
So our stylists are located all over the country, we’ve got one in Seattle, we have one. We have one who was in Minneapolis moved to Florida so truly all over. And they are you know they are the backbone of the firewall in so many ways, as you mentioned. Their goal is to really put things in front of our members that fit that they want to make but are things that will end up in their wardrobe that they’ll wear for a long time. And it’s their job to interpret that personal style and figure out how to, how to get them pieces that fit that criteria, but also how to push them a little bit to think about either the impact pieces a little bit more, or something that they might not have thought might look good on them so the fun element there. The way that I always like to think about our stylists is to kind of give you a look under the hood of the businesses they are really akin to the person who’s working a store floor. They are there to help you navigate all of the things that might be available to you, help you pair things if you take something into the dressing room and you need to see what it looks like with a pair of jeans so that you know whether it’s going to work for you, and advise on like what will fit you well, based on the cut and so the stylist for us to serve that function but they also just make it really fun. We create a lot of opportunities for our members to give feedback every month. And the thing that I love the most is when I know that a customer and a stylist have developed a really strong relationship because the feedback form, where we’re asking, Hey, what did you think of this month selection as you’re looking for next month, it actually turns into a dialogue between the two of them

Erin Houston 20:24
So before we all entered into quarantine one of my favorite anecdotes… We found out through this dialogue that a member and a stylist were having that they were both going on vacation within a couple weeks of one another to Portugal, and they started sending each other travel tips through the feedback experience. And it’s just such a testament to the ways in which the stylist truly gets to know you when you’re a wearwell member that I think is a really powerful experience.

Brandy Montague 21:00
That’s so fun. It’s so fun and, and I agree because you know it’s like you start to feel like you’re building a friendship with somebody, and that’s really cool and you know that underlying you have the same values and the same goals which is also super cool.

Brandy Montague 21:15
You know, I think that’s something that I will just add in about your business that I have been so impressed by as well is that it’s very real and very honest and your customer service is incredible. And I think I haven’t, like I haven’t experienced service like that and I feel like you kind of embody what what people want as a consumer you want a brand that is transparent and you can trust and you feel like you have a chance to get to know the people inside of it. And when something doesn’t go perfectly you know they’re there to support you. It’s so funny because on the same day last month, I had an experience with you guys I had an experience with another brand, and they could not have been more opposite and. Both of them were things that you know we’re just like I just needed help with it you know it’s um it’s amazing so just kudos to you for that and I really do think you’ve done an amazing job of that something new that I know you.

Brandy Montague 22:18
I want to say just this week communicated is you’ve added, you’ve become more inclusive on your sizing. And I think that’s really, really exciting. And I also wonder if you’ll talk about some of the other things that are up and coming that you’re excited about.

Erin Houston 22:35
Yeah, I appreciate that question and the opportunity to talk more about this yeah so we increased our sizing, to be able to offer up to size 22 X, and that for us is one one long step in that direction is a big step for a company our size to be able to take it but we know it is one small step in the grand scheme of where we want to be. We want to be able to offer a membership service that can serve everyone and when I say everyone I mean at different body shapes and sizes, different genders.

Erin Houston 23:07
We also are thinking a lot about what does it mean to be truly supportive to creating more diversity and the ethical and sustainable fashion space. There’s a lot of discussion going on right now about most sustainable fashion is a very white space. And so really trying to figure out how do we support black owned businesses more how do we increase our own sourcing from black owned businesses or bipoc owned businesses, was another area that we’re very much focused on right now. And another piece that I’m really excited that we’re getting a little bit of a sneak peek.

Erin Houston 23:40
We haven’t officially rolled this out yet so I’ll give you a teaser is thinking about how can we create some circularity with our business. We’ve heard over and over again from our customer base that they want to be able to also purchase pre worn items, they’re so used clothing, and we’re thinking about how do we do that in a way that encourages customers to treat their products really well incentivizes them to send back what they’ve purchased through where as well as done in their closet so that it can feel like someone else’s and so we’re starting to roll out with secondhand through around might look like. And, and I’m really excited to be testing that out in the months ahead, but again for us. That’s a big step towards our overall mission. How do we again make it easy for everyone to be involved in this, because over time that also means that there’s more price accessibility. Right now, I think a lot of people when they approach, ethical sustainable fashion in particular. They think you know conscious fashion requires a ton of money and, yes, it is slightly more expensive because living wages and environmentally sustainable materials do cost more than what you might get through fast fashion. But it doesn’t have to break the bank, and that’s something that we are focused on, on doing across the board and that will change as the industry changes but will also change as we grow and offering second hand is one way to open the door to more potential customers who can make this more accessible.

Brandy Montague 25:13
I love that so exciting. I think, you know, there’s the accessibility piece of it and then there’s also just I think more and more people are wanting to buy secondhand because, you know, we know that that ends up kind of taking these are going to be weird words but instead of putting like a new footprint. You know, it’s like it’s like taking it it’s the circularity piece but you know it’s like you know you feel like you’re, you’re kind of keeping things moving instead of like putting them in a landfill, I guess.

Erin Houston 25:48
Yeah. Can we talk about this all the time, to give a few more words on this because when, when we’re talking about conscious clothing. Again, like I said at the beginning, the most conscious thing to do is just not wear it right. When we before we do that, We have to think about the full impact and lifecycle of a piece of clothing. And that doesn’t mean that you should always buy new Of course and so when you need to buy something new, that’s where you can come to wearwell today and we’ll help you find the item that fit what it is you’re looking for. Buy secondhand is a huge piece of this and getting products, moving from one closet to another. When it does, it does have the possibility of having another life or getting it upcycle through a brand that can use materials in a different way, is so critically important for actually addressing the number of the sheer number of products that are on the market you know it’s really interesting. If any of your listeners have ever seen the true cost if you haven’t, I recommend you go and watch it because they’ll give you a nice overview of what the real challenges are here but we’ve seen that, that some large companies have increased from the 1950s of having four seasons a year to today having 52 seasons a year I mean they’re releasing new products every single week. And that’s their business objectives to get new products in front of people, but we don’t always need new products, and that’s really the thing that we’re coming back to.

Brandy Montague 27:16
And it would be nice if we see that tide continue to change as consumers know more and more consumers hopefully see that they don’t necessarily need new product, either and you know you alluded to this earlier and this is something that I’ve been kind of just learning a little bit more about myself, which is like, how to take better care of your clothes in so that they will last longer, and I mean a lot of it at least I’m seeing is buying better quality clothes helps them last longer. I think those two things gotta go together. But there’s also a lot of other things that we can do, is that or do you have any, any tips top of mind for just like helping your clothes last longer?

Erin Houston 28:00
Absolutely. So, actually taking care of the way that you wash your clothes, is one of the most important things you can do, so making sure you’re reading tags, not putting it in the dryer unless you have to, so I personally, I’ll airdrop most of my clothing, because it means that the fibers have less stress on them, and then washing your clothing in a, in a cyclical way where you might get a couple wears out of it and then you wash it is also really good for it to improve elasticity and the wear on the items but I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that Emily is the queen of tailoring projects, not only to make sure that you are making sure that a piece of clothing is fitting your body well, but actually adjusting clothes so you get a whole new life out of them. And that might mean tailoring a pair of jeans to be more in style. Or it could mean either shortening the sleeve or cutting off the sleeve and making it a whole new work and updating it, and it’s something that it’s really a small investment, depending on the access that you have to local tailors like it might cost you 20 bucks to redo $100 dress. And that gives a complete new look and new places no wardrobe, but also just getting things repaired I think so often that feels like a taxing project when really the smaller pair can actually go a long way to keeping something worked out for a while.

Brandy Montague 29:26
You know this is inspiring me because like on my bucket list somewhere on my to do list down lower has been to find a tailor. Because I feel like a lot of my clothes aren’t really fitting the way that I want them to just as my body changes, and it would be nice to have, have a tailor you know I also have further down on the bucket list to learn how to do it myself, which I mean for anyone who is interested. There are so many DIY videos out there on Pinterest and on YouTube to help you like tailor and upcycle clothing but yeah even finding a local person I mean what a great way to support a local small business, and yeah, I’m gonna put that on my list to like, you know, get on it, because, you know, and then your clothes look better too and like I love the idea of engaging, someone to help you make something new from what you have because I also feel like how fun would that be for that person it’s kind of like designing a new piece of clothing, I assume, I don’t know. Yeah so cool. Yeah, thank you for sharing those ideas.

Brandy Montague 30:34
And I also really love the thought of. I don’t think I did this before until I started like making my own clothing but like actually looking at your clothing and looking at all of the tiny fibers that go into that and when you think about those fibers going through the washing machine and going through the dryer, and I don’t know there’s just something about thinking about how each of those started with a thread and was kind of woven together. There’s something about it that just just makes your brain kind of say oh I want to treat this a little kinder, you know I want to be gentle audit. So, yeah, yeah, thanks for sharing that.

Brandy Montague 31:19
So I like to wrap up with one simple idea, we always tried to, and it doesn’t have to be one most everybody. Everyone’s everyone’s like one, but one simple thing that people who are listening could do to help animals and the environment, and we share these ideas I asked the people I interview, I asked you know everyone I talked to because I really want to build a community where we share these ideas with each other. I think we all come up with so many unique things that come out of our life and our history, and when we can listen and share those with each other. It really does open up so many ideas that anyone can choose from. to try so yeah I wonder if you’ll share with us your one simple idea that could help animals and the environment.

Erin Houston 32:12
Yeah, well, I’ll preface this with. I’d like for everyone to think about when it comes to supporting animals in the environment with the clothing choices that you make, think about where you might fall on a spectrum, you know, we can start that spectrum with people who have never thought about that issue ever, and they’re just maybe learning that would be the next step on that spectrum, all the way to someone who has really gotten in deep into this space right, and I think no matter where you are on that spectrum, there is one thing that you can do, and it’s really just choosing one place to start. And what I would encourage you to do is when you know that you need to add something to your wardrobe. Figure out what it is that one item that you want to add, figure out what it is, and do your best to find the most ethical or sustainable piece that you can and make a choice for just that one piece of clothing, I think we can often become really really overwhelmed. And the idea is just as we mentioned at the top of this progress over perfection so if you’ve never thought about this before. So try finding a brand that fits your style and that talks about the impact in a way that resonates with you, if you’re on the other end of the spectrum and you thought about this and you know all of the things that there are to know about sustainability, start researching the fabric is made up and go deep on what elements are there and and what might need to be improved in the next step I just use one piece of clothing, and one step towards progress. And then the final piece with this tip is talk to a friend about that experience because it’ll spark new ideas for them.

Brandy Montague 33:53
Yeah, I love that and I love that. Because I will say as soon as in probably all of us have seen this as soon as we start digging, we’re gonna be down a rabbit hole. I mean, the reality is, like, whether you’re searching for a brand or searching for materials or anything you don’t think you’re going to be down a rabbit hole and so I love that you’ve given the piece of like pull yourself back out, just one piece of clothing, take one tiny step and maybe even set like a timer to say okay I’m only giving myself an hour I’m only giving myself two hours to go down this rabbit hole because it becomes, it can become like a deep dark place you know if you get too far down, and it becomes overwhelming and then it’s very easy to just kind of give up so I love that you’ve shared, you know, cutting back, make it one thing.

Erin Houston 34:43
Exactly, yeah, it can become so overwhelming and to the point where so many people just throw up their hands and think I can’t actually do this I don’t have the capacity to do this. But if you focus on one purchase one item. It’d be a lot more manageable and, you know, everybody needs to hear right now. In early 2021 like one foot in front of the other, prevent yourself from the rabbit hole, do what you can, and make it small make it manageable. And you know I also think sometimes we underestimate the impact that we’re having on the people around us to like you said, bringing it up to a friend because I think it’s really easy to feel like the fashion industry is so big and fast fashion is so successful that it doesn’t really matter what I do, because everybody else is doing something different, you know, but it’s it’s not true. And I just I you know yeah it’s like I want to, like, because I find myself sometimes like thinking that and it’s like, but I want to remind myself as all of us that it’s not true, and the people that we’re surrounded by when we do pick that one new piece of clothing and then we excitingly share it with our friends and we tell them where it came from that, that little piece of information goes to them and then they may share it and it really, it really we can make an impact when it feels like they can’t. Yeah, yes and also to any listeners who may be feeling that way the tide is definitely turning we are seeing that fashion companies struggle when they’re not revamping their supply chain or their practices we are seeing that people more than ever are focused on sustainability and their purchases and so it’s not it’s not a pointless exercise, very much can make an impact and it really does just start with that one thing.

Brandy Montague 36:31
Yay, so yes let’s all do it together.

Erin Houston 36:35
Exactly.

Brandy Montague 36:37
So how can people find you. What is the best way for someone to get in touch if they would like to talk to you and what is the best place to find you, as a business.

Erin Houston 36:47
Best way to find us as a business is either our website which is shopwearwell.com, or our Instagram handle which is at shopwearwell, to reach me personally, I’m always on our Instagram account so just DM that software Well, the best way to get in touch.

Brandy Montague 37:05
Okay, perfect. Perfect. Well thank you so much for coming on and spending the morning talking to me about this.

Erin Houston 37:12
Thank you Brandy.

Brandy Montague 37:15
It’s funny, I don’t know if you have the same thing but I get so invigorated through, you know like this type of conversation and I feel so much more. I can’t think of a better word than gumption that I felt. I find I need these reinforcing conversations to get me excited and keep me going.

Erin Houston 37:40
Yeah it’s better than a cup of coffee.

Brandy Montague 37:49
And that’s all for today I hope this was better than a cup of coffee for you too. Thank you so much for listening. Just a reminder that if you want to try wearwell, my Ambassador link is in the description and you can check it out for free.

Brandy Montague 38:03
A few quick announcements before we wrap up. If you ever want to join me live I would love to have you there for an interview you can check to see when the next live interview is scheduled at any time at foranimalsforearth.com/live.

Brandy Montague 38:17
If you want to join our free five day conscious lifestyle challenge, and to look for one new simple habit that you can bring into your daily life, go to foranimalsforearth.com /lifestyle challenge.

Brandy Montague 38:30
And last but not least, if you’re up for leaving a review, you can do that at foranimalsforearth.com/apple. And if you don’t listen on Apple you could really help us out by telling a friend, it means the world to all of us if you’re willing to share the show so you can do that with just a simple link of foranimalsforearth.com/podcast and your friend can listen on whatever streaming platform, they like. Okay, thank you so much for all of your support and your ongoing listening, and I will see you next week. Bye.

Transcribed by https://otter.ai

How can we easily find ethical and sustainable clothing? A conversation with Wearwell's co-founder Erin Houston. The For Animals For Earth Podcast, episode 32.

About Erin:

Erin became an entrepreneur in the conscious fashion movement after 8 years working in international development. She holds a Masters in Social Enterprise from American University and is a graduate of William & Mary. In her free time, she’s an amateur yogi and proud dog mom.

The best way to reach Erin is to DM her on their Instagram account.

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How can we easily find ethical and sustainable clothing? A conversation with Wearwell's co-founder Erin Houston. The For Animals For Earth Podcast, episode 32.
How can we easily find ethical and sustainable clothing? A conversation with Wearwell's co-founder Erin Houston. The For Animals For Earth Podcast, episode 32.
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