WHAT IS A SUSTAINABLE STYLIST?
We are seeing uptick in sustainable awareness. With fashion now becoming the world’s 2nd largest polluter, consumerism has now begun a new era of introspection and rebranding.
I spoke to Sustainable Stylist Andreana Bakert Miceli. In the interview below she tells me what her clients are looking for and how we can shop and live in a more sustainable way that is conducive to the longevity of the planet.
What sets you apart from other stylists?
One of the most important principles I learned while pursuing a degree in Entrepreneurship and Design was that to create a successful small business one must find a niche market and develop a concept that is not already overly saturated.
When I decided to become a hired stylist, I knew that the existing focus was for couture, luxury lifestyle, corporate hires within Saks or Nordstrom, and special event styling.
It was my instinct from the start to connect with the everyday man and woman, and it is my intention to expand access to what has previously been known as a fairly exclusive service.
I have always wanted my presence in the industry to emphasise that fashion is not only for the wealthy, socialites, models, or men and women of a certain physique.
I want to work with the recent graduate, the new mom, the young man who is intimidated to build a sophisticated wardrobe, men and women from foreign countries who are now trying to assimilate to American culture, weight loss and or gains, people who are entering a new phase of life such as a recent divorcee, and the list goes on.
The real end game of my work is to change the concept of styling from prestige and glamour to focus instead on the exploration of self-worth and personal well-being on a community level.
As a Sustainable Stylist, what do your customers and clients come to you for specifically?
My clients and I seek each other out mutually. My appeal is really to those who are in need of a life transformation verses a one-time shopping spree.
The type of clients I get hired by are looking for assistance from the ground up and need to focus on the building blocks of creating a positive self-image and personalised unique style.
Sometimes, without knowing it, they are looking for a stylist to help them find overall balance in their lives and they recognise that their wardrobe is key to creating a solid foundation for success.
My clients will hire me due to my reasonable pricing and my understanding of the relationship between budget and quality. They recognise my ability to relate to many lifestyles and personalities, and my genuine desire to help their overall quality of life.
Some wonderful quotes from my recent reviews read “I decided to work with Andreana vs. other stylists because of her relaxed yet confident approach and the tremendous value that came with her work”.
Another said “I chose to work with Andreana based on how prompt, incredibly detailed, professional and genuine she was in her desire to assist her potential clients”.
I felt my philosophy and approach were really translating as a result of reading these recent testimonials, and I am more motivated than ever to work with future clients.
What are your current views on sustainable fashion?
My focus on sustainable fashion has been the greatest challenge and success for me in the past 4 years. At the same time as my small business was taking off, my significant other was earning a Graduate Degree in Sustainability Management.
As part of his curriculum he was being introduced to the concepts of slow fashion, ethical fashion and the toll the industry at large has on the environment.
He urged me to integrate these principles into my business and gave me my first pieces of literature on the subject, “The Sustainable Fashion Handbook” and “Wear No Evil”.
After diving into the research and supporting arguments, I decided to market myself a Sustainable Stylist. This allowed me to even further distinguish myself in the industry, as well as begin educating myself on a new level to help contribute to a greater good.
At first, my approach was to eagerly start supporting brands that had roots in ethical and sustainable practices.
However, the deeper I dove into the market the more I came to find that there was quite a bit of misconduct occurring under the umbrella of conscious consumerism, and many brands were slapping the unregulated label of “sustainable” on their products for perceived added value.
I became discouraged to support sustainably marketed collections and felt I needed to change my course of direction.
I knew I was determined to continue on this path of being a Sustainable Stylist and was motivated to find a real solution to this issue through my work.
To navigate a new solution to this pressing topic of how the fashion industry is contributing so highly to pollution, I created my own recipe for success.
First, education is key. I don’t pressure my clients to buy from a variety of labels that are marketing themselves as sustainable. Instead I talk to them openly about the concepts of fast fashion and give them the facts.
It’s crucial they understand the annual waste created by the fashion industry and what actions can be taken to help on even a daily basis.
I use my knowledge of the textile industry to closely identify labels, looking for products higher in natural fibres that can be found from all types of brands. Many of which do not necessarily market themselves as “sustainable”.
In reality, the work I am doing is really the most sustainable factor of all. The key to combat fast fashion has to do mostly with how long the consumer keeps their clothes.
The term “fast fashion” doesn’t just refer to warehouses pumping out new clothes every season, it also has to do with how fast the consumer is willing to ditch the old and bring in the new.
By working together one on one with people I am listening to their needs, available budget in the short and long term, and teaching them how to maximise their wardrobe.
Additionally, educating them on how often to wash and where to properly dispose of their previous items is very important. I always urge my clients to donate, and in turn strive to incorporate second hand items to their wardrobe updates.
Here are some facts that have been released on the subject:
- Doubling the useful life of clothing from one year to two years reduces emissions by 24%. – Time out for Fast Fashion by Greenpeace
- Since 2016 buying second hand clothing for environmental reasons increased 22.5%. – Ethical Consumers Market Report
- The average person buys 60% more clothes and keeps them for half as long as they did 15 years ago. – Greenpeace
- The apparel industry alone accounts for 6.7% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions. – Measuring Fashion Report 2018 by Quantus
- The average American throws away approximately 80 pounds of used clothing per person annually. – EPA
- The average lifetime of a cloth is approximately 3 years. – EPA
- It is the consumer who is causing the most landfill, only recycling up to 15% of their worn garments, while manufacturers recycle at least 75% of their used materials. – Council for Textile Recycling
- Nearly 100% of textiles and clothes are recyclable. – EPA
Some of the best steps for moving toward sustainable fashion is increasing the lifetime of people’s wardrobes, buying second hand, washing clothes on colder temperatures and recycling worn textiles properly.
There is plenty more on the subject, and I would be happy to be in contact with anyone who would like to discuss!
What about ethical fashion? Can you touch on this?
Ethical fashion is more-straight forward. Ethical fashion relates to preventing child labor, overworked employees, demanding fair wages and ensuring local trade artisans are not being taken advantage of. Too many are having their products purchased and sold overseas for double or triple the cost.
Ethical fashion can be identified and corroborated a bit easier than sustainable fashion. Adelante Shoes Co. is a great example.
This is a company that advocates true ethical fashion as they provide complete transparency from start to finish. They focus their entire business model around supporting their local artisans in Guatemala.
In the opposite direction, I think it is natural to be suspicious of any stores that are able to completely turn over their inventory in just a month or two without naming names.
If you are interested in finding ethically rooted brands, you can easily do so by searching online and ensuring to read the About page on every website. I am also more than happy to assist!
Let’s talk social media. What’s your favourite platform and which one do you primarily use to leverage business and traffic to your site?
Social media has been a creative outlet for me, and I only really began my associated Instagram accounts to help substantiate my business and provide added value.
I also like to have different platforms to express myself in an organised and cohesive manner, while also making it relatable and relevant to my viewers.
I like that I am able to use Instagram to make announcements about my business, and to help give my clients a sense of who I am.
While I wouldn’t say Instagram has brought me a significant amount of new styling clients, I have been connected with a great community in the fashion, beauty and interior design industries and this has been a wonderful benefit as an entrepreneur.
As a result of my presence on social media, I have been invited to several events, asked to speak at industry gatherings, and have been approached by companies to become a brand ambassador.
One thing a follower of my earlier Instagram might notice is that I used to highlight specific brands, but I don’t do this as much anymore.
It has been very important for me to distinguish that my Instagram is a marketing tool for my business rather than vice versa. There is a fine line between creating brand content that is true to my overall purpose and aesthetic without it translating as a fashion blogger or influencer.
While I am happy to support companies that I have had great customer service experiences with, I would never collaborate with a company that wasn’t true to my branding for monetary gains.
What can we expect to see from you in the future?
I have recently been approached by a new software company to be a beta tester for a program that will allow me to put together wardrobes remotely and give my clients the ability to purchase full looks online from one program.
I will always recommend an initial consultation for every new client as this allows me to connect with them on a more personal level before beginning our journey together. This enables me to get a sense of what is happening in their life and wardrobe overall.
However, this new tool could potentially open big avenues of business for me for clients who are outside my metropolitan area. I am very excited to jump into it as the software is brand new.
Another venture I am considering in the long term is creating a well curated eCommerce shop. I see an opportunity in the market based on a strong consumer desire to support small businesses.
I’m seeing a renewed interest in second hand shopping. There is an overwhelming emergence of small boutique brands thanks to platforms such as Etsy and an increasing interest in the U.S. to explore fashion internationally.
I would focus on finding one of a kind pieces that are within budget for the average shopper and likely keep limited inventory with exclusive procured collections.
This would encompass vintage finds, carefully selected thrift and second-hand pieces, new small labels that do not yet have significant exposure, as well as a budget conscious and durable staple pieces.
Lastly, I will be taking a course through Future Learn called Fashion and Sustainability: “Understanding Luxury Fashion in a Changing World”.
I am looking forward to having new access to information and the insights this will provide myself, my clients, and my colleagues.
Thank you so much for your time, and if the philosophy behind my business model resonates with you please reach out!! I would love to work together.
COLETTE AUGER PHOTOGRAPHY
Be sure to connect with Andreana via her website for all your questions regarding Sustainable Styling.