We are super-stoked to inaugurate our Featured Designer Series with Michelle Maynard, the incredible talent behind eco-conscious womenswear line, Simone's Rose.
We have had the pleasure of being wearers of Simone's Rose as well as collaborating with Michelle - in fact, Michelle is the one who makes our vintage kimono fabric chopstick sleeves! The material is all offcuts from the Simone's Rose studio.
We have always been so impressed with the seamless way that Michelle incorporates eco-practices into her business - we think she's an incredible example, and she has certainly inspired many of the eco-minded decisions we have made while running B&B.
The mandate of Michelle's Canadian fashion label, aside from creating gorgeous romantic clothes with impeccable tailoring (not to mention feats of fabric folding) is to "affect change by supporting and implementing sustainable and ecologically conscious business practices and projects internally, locally and across the globe". No small feat! She does this by using organic and fair trade fabrics, vintage textiles and trims, as well as deadstock. As she says; "After all, it's all about having style – both in the way we dress and the way we affect people and the world around us!" Who can argue with that?
We asked Michelle to speak about the importance of eco fashion & running en eco-conscious business.
B&B: Why is eco fashion important to you?
Michelle: Eco fashion for me is more about a lifestyle than a thing you "do" so to speak. I believe that clothing can be made ethically from materials that are sustainable for our environment without compromising style. There is so much excess around us, it kind of drives me crazy.. sometimes I think the world has gone crazy! I mean, do we really need $5 Walmart t-shirts that fall apart after one wash? (Lets not even get started on what someone got paid to make that t-shirt.) That seems so ridiculous to me and that's why eco fashion is so important.
B&B: How does Simone's Rose embody an eco/sustainable philosophy? How do you put it into practice?
Michelle: Everything I use for my collections & business is carefully picked for its sustainability or eco friendliness. Even my designs are built around it! If a particular dress causes too much fabric waste I'll tweak the design or come up with a better way to do the pattern so it makes more sense where that's concerned. I also use recycled paper products for my packaging and eco friendly shipping supplies. If I choose to purchase a fabric locally, it has to be pretty awesome, the end of a fabric bolt and/or supporting a great local business (because that's important too).
B&B: What's the hardest part about "going green", both with your business and your life?
Michelle: Its actually not that hard to be conscious about the environment! When you start implementing small changes to your life, they become habit and part of your lifestyle. I don't really see any drawbacks with choosing a recycled shipping product vs a regular shipping product for example. It may sometimes cost a little bit more money but in the end its usually not that much and its a better choice. The same goes for fabrics - I would much rather use a gorgeous organic cotton or hemp textile that feels great against the skin than a slick polyester covered in chemicals. There's really no choice to be made there so I don't really see 'going green' as a challenge in any way.
B&B: Where do you think people or businesses should start when they want to begin "going green"?
Michelle: I think starting with small changes is key to adjusting your business or lifestyle. The next time you need to order paper for your printer, think about your choices... Is it recycled paper, is it made from bamboo, is it super white slick bleached paper and it doesn't need to be? The same goes for building your wardrobe.. why choose a cheap dress from the mall made from chemical covered polyester when you can have something that is not only made from a better fabric but also made in Canada or by a reputable company? Consumers have an infinite amount of choices these days and it all starts with making small steps. Why waste your hard earned money on clothing that will be tossed in the 'donation' pile and inevitably end up in the garbage? I think spending a little more money on one item of quality that will last you a very long time, feels good, does good and looks great is a fantastic start. Check out Etsy or search the web for local designers, pop in to your local boutiques rather than the mall and visit some arts & craft shows the next time there's one happening in your town or neighbourhood! You never know what or who you will discover. Going 'green' is just about making choices, it won't hurt & you'll be better off, I promise!