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Interviews

An Easy Way to Learn About Sustainable Clothing Brands with wearwell

"If anything is going to change in the fashion industry, it needs to be easier for conscious consumers to find clothing and accessories that make a positive impact." Co-founder Erin Houston discusses how her company saves you time on finding ethical, sustainable brands tailored to your personal fashion taste.

By

Le

on

October 9, 2019

wearwell: Where Conscious Fashion Meets Personal Shopping

Sometimes being an ethical consumer isn't easy, but we all know it's the right thing to strive to do. Certain industries don't make it easy for the average consumer to go green. In the fashion industry, shopping ethically takes time-consuming research and can be more expensive, but wearwell is a company that is making the pursuit of eco-friendly, stylish clothing easier for busy women.

wearwell believes that your style says a lot about you, but beyond expressing personal creativity and taste, it should also express your values. They are a subscription service and personal stylist that curates socially and environmentally conscious clothing brands fit for your everyday wear. All of the brands wearwell partners with are ethical and aware of their impact on people and the planet in every single step of their supply chain. This means you'll see that the clothes you get are built to last a long time, made of sustainable materials, and created by people who get paid and treated fairly in the workplace.

Getting started with wearwell is simple. First you submit your style profile, which covers your favorite looks and designs as well as the causes you support, ranging from environmentalism to supporting living wages and education. Next, you become a member for a flat $8.50 a month, which covers your personal stylist fee and is a credit you can use towards the articles of clothing that wearwell recommends for you. wearwell then sends you six personalized clothing recommendations, and all you have to do is buy what you want and get it shipped to your house.

wearwell makes the return process easy too because you are allowed to return or exchange any product within 30 days. This personal stylist cycle repeats each month, so you can discover new brands and build your closet easily. Additionally, wearwell tells you the story of the impact you're making by supporting the brand they send you, so you can learn how your decisions are truly making a difference.

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An Interview with Erin Houston, Co-Founder of wearwell

Erin Houston and Emily Kenney, co-founders of Wearwell

Tell me about your company and how you got started

"Emily and I started wearwell after experiencing personal frustration over how ridiculously time consuming it is to shop for ethically and sustainably made clothes. When wearwell was just an idea, we were both working in international development and earning Masters degrees in fields of study that gave us expertise to understand all the certifications, cull through impact reports, and truly get a sense for where our money was going when making clothing purchases.

Yet even with this knowledge, we couldn't do it quickly and began to question, "how is a busy woman - especially one who doesn't work in this field - who cares about living her life with positive impact ever going to have the time to do this?" We also knew that if consumers don't use their purchasing power to vote with their dollar, companies have no incentive to improve their workers' rights or environmental practices. This became especially pressing in the wake of the Rana Plaza disaster - a galvanizing moment for so many.

We realized that if anything is going to change in the fashion industry, it needs to be easier for conscious consumers to find clothing and accessories that make a positive impact in the lives of the makers and mitigate environmental harm."


What is your professional background, and what did you do before starting Wearwell?

"I was a part of the leadership team of Devex, a media company that serves the global development community, heading up their partnerships division. This meant I was helping multinational corporations communicate about the ways they are positively impacting lives of people all over the world and gave me critical industry insights into the problems we're solving with wearwell.

Emily was working for renowned NGOs like the American Red Cross and Results for Development on impact measurement and design in 5 different countries, including India and Cambodia which are hubs for fashion industry manufacturing. We met while at American University School of International Service where Emily earned her MA in International Development and I earned mine in Social Enterprise."

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How close are you to your vision of success for the company, what milestones are you looking towards in the next few months?

"Ultimate success for wearwell is that clothing made with living wages and safe workplaces for garment workers and artisans as well as clothing using materials that limit environmental impact are simply the norm.

We've got our work cut out for us! In the months ahead, we're focused on growth. We want to serve as many women as possible and bring as many new customers onto our platform as we can. One big challenge to the goal of serving as many women as possible is inclusive sizing. Because we source from brands doing amazing things rather than manufacture the clothing ourselves, we can only carry the sizing options they offer. We'll be thrilled when there's enough movement among our brand partners to be able to serve the many women currently excluded from standard sizes.

When we look to milestones in the years ahead, it's really the achievement of expansion, creating a brand that serves more needs of the conscious consumer."

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What are your company's values and missions, and how do you incorporate them into your day-to-day?

"Our company makes it effortless for women to find clothing that fits their style and their values. Because women are trusting us to identify companies making the most impact, integrity, trust, transparency, and inclusivity are part of wearwell's values.

We work deeply with our brand partners to understand the impact that they are making with regard to workers' rights and sustainability and we build relationships with them so that they can trust us and are willing to share the challenges they are facing. We also are building a company that is inclusive in every sense of the word. This means being body-positive, language sensitive, culturally and racially inclusive, and engaged listeners to understand the many ways we can continue growing and improving in inclusivity."


What advice do you have for people who want to make a difference in this world?

"Get to know the problem you're solving really, really well. A lot of people have great ideas, but you want to be sure that whatever solution you're working on is truly addressing a root cause of the problem in the first place.

Entrepreneurs tend to be optimistic people, so you want to think big and dream up solutions. Because of that mindset and tendency, it can be challenging to double down and take time to deeply understand the challenge but it's critical to ensuring the success of your efforts in both impact and business."


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What has been a moment that made you think "yes. this is why I do what I do"

"We've been fortunate to have a lot of those moments lately! Our favorites are always when we hear from customers out of the blue about how much they love wearwell. We get notes about why they felt great - style and value wise - in a dress they were able to wear to the office or words of encouragement because they so deeply believe in our shared vision. It's incredible to hear from your customers that you're helping them live meaningful lives."

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Your clothing choice makes an impact. Check out and learn more about ethical fashion made easy at shopwearwell.com.

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World-changing companies, sent directly to you πŸ’Œ

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