Elizabeth created Conscious Life & Style once she recognized that her love of fashion was at odds with her passion for sustainability and values for social justice and human rights. Today, she is dedicated to advocating for a fairer future for fashion that can have a positive impact on people and the place that we all call home: Mother Earth.
Elizabeth also manages the Conscious Fashion Collective platform focused on spotlighting change-making brands, creatives, and ideas in the sustainable fashion space.
Thank you so much for taking the time with A Little Bit Human. Let’s start from the beginning. When did you launch Conscious Life and Style, and what was the final brush of inspiration that led you there?
After watching The True Cost documentary, I launched Conscious Life & Style (CL&S) in college. I had first learned about fashion’s exploitative practices and negative impact on people after the Rana Plaza Factory collapse in 2013.
Still, that documentary pushed me to commit to sustainable fashion. I first started CL&S to promote conscious fashion brands, but I’ve since expanded it into incorporating more education and resources.
Social justice and human rights are an integral part of your brand – can you tell us a little more about that? Was there something, in particular, you faced that was a defining moment for you?
Human rights must be centered in conversations on sustainable fashion. As I often say: what type of fashion industry or world are we sustaining if there’s still exploitation happening? Eco-friendly fabrics aren’t the beginning and end of the story of sustainability. Fashion brands need to be thinking about how they can positively impact people rather than degrading them.
Learning about the Rana Plaza factory collapse was a defining moment. However, there have been other instances, such as when brands canceled billions of dollars in orders at the beginning of the pandemic, leaving garment workers without the wages they were owed, putting some of the world’s most vulnerable people at risk of houselessness and hunger.
Additionally, you have some excellent content on sustainability, particularly within fashion and blogging. Tell us more about why this topic is so important to you.
First of all, thank you!
Sustainability is essential to me for the reasons that it is for many others. First off, the climate crisis is here and set to get significantly more dangerous. We’re running out of time, and fashion has a significant carbon footprint as well as a heavy impact on biodiversity loss and deforestation (which also contributes to the climate crisis).
And we’re already seeing how the climate crisis impacts the world’s most marginalized populations first: low-income communities and areas in the Global South. The climate crisis is also a humanitarian crisis.
I love style and dressing up as much as the next person, but I don’t want that to come at the cost of the planet. The earth is our own and only home — it’s quite literally providing us with what we need to survive.
There are many ways to enjoy fashion without harming the environment or the people making those clothes. Buy less, prioritize pre-loved, try swapping, love what you have, and re-wear, mend, repair, etc.
Before launching Conscious Life and Style, what was your career path? Tell us your “backstory.”
There were a lot of different career paths I wanted to take growing up! When I was young, I always dreamed of working in the fashion industry. But I also loved dancing, so I pursued that for a little bit. Then, I went to a conservatory for dance to become a professional contemporary dancer.
Long story short, that didn’t work out, so I transferred to Loyola University and studied International Business. At that time, I wanted to work at a big company and work abroad in some area centered on sustainability.
I ended up working at a smaller consulting firm out of college. I quickly realized that an office 9-5 environment, working at a company (even one that was mission-driven) was not something that made me happy.
I transitioned to freelancing for conscious brands and creators from there while continuing to grow consciouslifeandstyle.com. I am grateful for that freelance experience because it taught me a LOT about this space. Now, I work full time on my business managing Conscious Life & Style and Conscious Fashion Collective (founded initially by Kaméa Chayne).
Launching a new brand is never easy. What were some of the hurdles you faced, and how did you overcome them?
I probably have a similar answer to this as many others but managing the funding aspect is always a challenge; trying to grow a business without external funding is testing. I have 100 percent self-funded this business (no investors, loans, or debts). Plus, of course, I’m super picky about the brands I work with and do sponsorships with. And that means that I’ve grown SLOW.
It meant working a full-time job while running this blog. It meant doing freelance work for a while. It meant that I couldn’t do everything I wanted to in my business, and I had to prioritize.
But I think this approach is most aligned with my values and what I want Conscious Life & Style to be. I don’t want us to be influenced by outside investors. I don’t want us to increase just for the sake of fast growth — that’s sort of antithetical to our mission! Instead, I want us to grow intentionally and thoughtfully.
What are your hopes for the brand in the coming years? Any particular milestones you’re hoping to achieve?
I hope to continue to expand Conscious Life & Style to a multi-media platform. We’ve made progress this year with launching the Conscious Style Podcast!
My goal is to expand more into video in 2022, and I hope to create a community off of social media for Conscious Fashion Collective.
Beyond that, I want to create courses and more educational offerings for people learning about conscious fashion.
You’ve had a lot of influential guests on your podcast – any ones in particular stick out the most? Who is your “dream” guest to have on?
That’s such a difficult question to answer! I have loved every conversation with every single guest for different reasons.
That said, Ayesha Barenblat (CEO of Remake) and Aja Barber were two of my dream guests that I was so humbled to have the opportunity to speak with for the podcast.
If you could have lunch with anyone, dead or alive, who would it be and why?
I’d love to have lunch with the CEOs of these fast fashion brands and bring in some garment workers who create their clothes. That would be powerful.
These executives are so detached from the harmful impact their businesses are having. It would be compelling to see them finally acknowledge the harm they’ve done and then (hopefully) work towards genuinely repairing that harm.
What’s next for Conscious Life and Style? Anything upcoming you can share with our readers?
Season 3 of the Conscious Style Podcast will be launching January 2022! The focus is going to be on looking behind the scenes of fashion.
We’re going to be peeling the layers on the elements of the fashion industry that don’t always get seen: the impact of the global secondhand trade, influencer-brand partnerships, building sustainable manufacturing, and more.
I’m also going to be talking about careers in conscious fashion. I’ll be chatting with fellow podcasters, a style coach, sustainable fashion brand consultant, and ethically-minded marketers, just to give you a taste of what to expect!
What is the best way our readers can follow you online?
The BEST way to stay updated is to subscribe to my weekly newsletter, where I share the latest posts and podcast episodes along with sustainable fashion-related recommendations for reading, listening to, watching, and more.
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