Ever since I was a little girl, I have had an obsession with clothes. Maybe it was because I went to a private Catholic school and I was forced to wear a uniform. So, when I wasn't wearing my polyester navy, dark green, red and yellow plaid jumper, I was making up for all that time I spent in it. In the second grade, I got these pastel pink suede moccasins with Rhinestones on the toes. And even though they didn't follow my dress code at school of navy, black or tan shoes, I wore them every day. I remember my Mom would ask me if I got in trouble wearing those shoes and I would just say no. Even though I would get detention for it and I'd have to sit inside during recess almost daily. But, I didn't care because those shoes made me so happy. Like baking, fashion is just another form of creativity where you can express yourself, your style and how you feel. So, even though when I was ten years old and we moved from Chicago to Michigan and I got to go to public school with no uniforms, my love of clothes has never faded, it's only grown.
Some of you may know that before I was a baker I came from the fashion industry. Well, action sports fashion to be exact. I worked for Roxy for over five years. When I started at Roxy I was eighteen years old, and I thought I had landed my dream job. I remember the first time I discovered the brand Roxy. I think I was about seven years old, and I was shopping at Nordstrom with my Mom and Booda which was a standard ritual so many times a year. We were in the B.P. section and something colorful caught my eye. I was drawn to Roxy's bright, colorful and California vibe. I grabbed every single item in their collection and bolted to the dressing room. I modeled them all for my Mom and Booda, and went home that day with what would only be my first of many large bags full of Roxy clothes. When Celeste (my best childhood friend and neighbor) and I used to talk about what we were going to be when we were older, I would say I was going to own my own business - a clothing line. I always thought I would design clothes, I used to draw them when I was little and I even sewed my own clothes in high school. I guess I got part of that right, owning my own business, it just ended up being a bakery and not a clothing line.
But, my love for clothes is right up there with my love for cookies. While working at Roxy I learned a lot about fabrics. And as I got older I also learned a lot about what fabrics don't wash well and don't last. So, even before I was twenty years old I had a strict list of fabrics I wouldn't buy because I knew they wouldn't last long enough to actually enjoy the piece of clothing. Polyester, acrylic and rayon are included in my list. This also stopped me from shopping at stores such as Forever 21 (where all my friends would go) because so many of their items were made of polyester and after you wore it once, it was ruined. It didn't matter to me that I would spend more on jeans or knits than my friends, because it was worth having an item of clothing that would last through a wash cycle - or many wash cycles.
So, I came across Synergy Clothing and love that almost all their clothes are made with organic fair trade cotton. They still have stylish pieces that makes you want to buy clothes, but their practices make them stand out from the rest. I reached out and talked to Chelsea who is Synergy Clothing's Marketing Director. I have been eating organic foods since I was seventeen years old, but I can confidently say that thinking of purchasing organic clothing is something that is relatively new, even to me. It's just something I haven't thought too much about until the past few years. And, I realized that if it's taken me this long to think of organic being important in clothing, then probably so many other people are over looking it as well. So, I interviewed Chelsea below and she has some great information on what makes organic clothing better for the environment. And some good advice on what you can do for taking your first step to being better to the environment as far as your clothing purchases go.
Mimi: When did Synergy Clothing start?
Chelsea: Synergy started in 1993. While in her second year of college, Kate Fisher’s wanderlust adventure-loving ways started beckoning her to explore the world that existed outside of textbooks and classrooms. She bought a one-way plane ticket to Kathmandu and arrived in November of 1993 at age 21, the starting point of an eight month long adventure though Nepal and India. In her first week in Kathmandu, Kate bought an assortment of textiles and clothing and sent her purchases to friends in America to sell at markets and Grateful Dead shows. In these simple beginnings, partnerships and connections in Nepal were formed and the seeds of Synergy were born.
M: Where are your offices based and how many employees do you have?
C: We operate out of Santa Cruz, CA. We have about 15 employees.
M: Where can you buy Synergy Clothing besides your website?
C: Synergy is proud to be sold at a variety of awesome boutiques. We are also sold at every Whole Foods nationwide, as well as select REI locations.
M: Can you explain for everyone what organic clothing really means?
C: The fashion industry is the second highest polluting industry after oil. Organic clothing is better for the environment and the people on earth. The cotton seeds are grown organically (without the use of toxic chemicals), the clothing is dyed using low impact dyes (meaning less water usage, and again, no toxic chemicals), then it is manufactured in one of our GOTS certified factories (meaning our workers are paid and treated fairly and given a safe working environment).
M: Why is fair trade clothing so important? A lot of people don't really know what fair trade means, are there things that you want people to know that you think get overlooked?
C: Clothing is so mass produced that it is sometimes easy to forget that an actual person made your clothing. Everyone who works for Synergy is paid a living wage and treated with respect. A lot of factory workers have to submit themselves to unsafe work environments just to get by, and care for their families. This is not a compromise that we think any person should have to make.
M: I see most of your clothes are made from fair trade organic cotton, what other eco friendly materials do you use?
C: Our screen printed tops are printed using an eco-friendly process. Most shirts are screen printed using plastisol based inks that require a separate chemical under base. We use water based inks, this keeps you, the earth, and our workers, safe from chemical exposure!
M: A lot of people are probably not aware that clothing has such an impact on the environment. If you could give them one piece of advice to start small, what would it be?
C: I think that the easiest first sustainable step is to buy clothing that you love, and that fits you well. Limiting consumption to only high quality garments that you will wear for a long time is a great way to have a positive impact on the environment.
M: I couldn't agree with you more! That is such a great advice and something that everyone can do, no matter what!
We were recently on vacation at the Ocean Palms Beach Resort in Carlsbad, CA and all of these pieces were perfect for my beach vacation! Find what I'm wearing below: