Conscious x Brynn Elliott Watkins x Shop Ethica
It's a new season and we're taking a moment to appreciate a few conscious designers for their creativity, seasonless designs, and commitment to creating with purpose. We've teamed up with Brynn Elliott Watkins and Shop Ethica to make this happen. Brynn Elliott Watkins is the founder and curator of the blog, Being Elliott. Brynn is known for blogging about whimsical fascinations of life and documenting artistic creations from around the world. She's also building quite the portfolio working with boutique magazines by art directing and styling shoots. Shop Ethica is the online boutique for ethical and sustainable fashion from emerging and independent brands (and kudos to The Style Line for the intro). Scope out the styles here, which Brynn Elliott Watkins styled for this feature editorial on consciousmagazine.co - and you can find these looks on ShopEthica.com.
Styling: Brynn Elliott Watkins | Style Partner: Shop Ethica | Photography: Rachael (Baxter) Lechliter
Tell us about you? Where are you from and what inspired you to move to New York? My name is Brynn Elliott Watkins and I am a stylist, creative consultant, and blogger from a little town in southern Illinois. I was inspired to move to New York for its fast pace and I was drawn to the world of fashion.
Tell us about BeingElliott.com and what makes you different from other bloggers? Being Elliott is a lifestyle blog focussed on the whimsical fascinations of my life. It is where I share my travels, styling opportunities, and things that inspire me. It's not necessarily that I'm so different from all other bloggers, however blogging is unique in that everyone is encouraged to be their own unique self. So I'm just being myself and allowing others to look into my thoughts.
On your love for fashion - what about the fashion world piques your curiosity? I love that fashion can really make your personality come out. Somedays when I am feeling rather bold I'll throw on a neon color, or a bright 60s print into my daily outfit. I love how fashion sends a message without ever saying a word.
What cause are you close to and why? Shiloh NYC is a cause that is near and dear to my heart (I personally worked at Camp Shiloh). It is an organization that sends inner city youth into a beautiful camp in upstate New York. Seeing the children's reaction when they see wildlife for the first time makes supporting this cause so worth it for me. It is a truly rewarding experience.
What's one piece of advice you would give to other bloggers and stylists on building a brand in New York? Never give up. Blogging is never easy but if you stick it out and maintain a nice schedule it will be rewarding. Find your own voice through looking through inspiration and taking some time to reflect on what your vision is. Stay true to yourself and you won't lose!
Finding inspiration is part of what you do - name 5 places that inspire your work? Nature: Going even for a short walk outside makes me so inspired to think outside the box. / Coffee Shops: (Disclaimer: I haven't been drinking as much coffee lately) I love to just sit and take some time to really focus on my blog and to people-watch! / My favorites stores: I love to get inspired by other people's beautiful work (Imogene + Willie & Joinery NYC are two of my favorite shops to browse) / Art Museums: The MET and the Whitney are my favorites in NYC--I studied Studio Art in college and plan to pick it back up someday. / My Family Farm: There is something to be said about where a person comes from, & how it can really shape you. For me, every time I visit home I come back with so many marvelous ideas & so much encouragement!
Melissa / Carolina - tell us about Shop Ethica and what sparked the vision to launch this brand? Ethica is an online boutique for ethical and sustainable fashion from emerging and independent brands. We launched shopethica.com in the fall of 2012 in an effort to bring our favorite conscious fashion designers together under a single storefront, tell these designers’ stories, and help people understand what ethical and sustainable fashion is and why it matters. At the time that we launched, there were a handful of blogs and websites that were covering ethical and sustainable fashion, along with a couple of boutiques, mostly brick-and-mortar, that had this focus as well. However, there was no single destination that offered both commerce and storytelling. Someone who was interested in ethical fashion had to actively research the issues and separately hunt around for where to support responsible brands. It was a disjointed experience that required a good degree of commitment on the part of the consumer. We saw an opportunity to advance the movement by curating a multi-brand shopping experience that made people excited about ethical and sustainable fashion. And it was important to us that, within this experience, we were also helping people understand and define ethical and sustainable fashion for themselves.
This knowledge is what empowers them to make more informed choices not just when shopping with us, but all of the time. So while the clothing is often what initially gets people’s attention, the content and storytelling is what ultimately has the most potential to drive change.
Tell us about your process when choosing designers? The ethical and sustainable fashion space has grown incredibly over the last couple of years—there are so many brands to choose from now, which is a great problem to have! Our first criterion for evaluating a brand will always be the fashion. If we like a brand aesthetically, then we begin the process of reviewing their sourcing and production practices, the materials they use, and so on to determine if they fit the standards we’ve set out to promote and uphold. In the end, our decision to pick up a line is based on a combination of design, price point, environmental and labor practices, and how it all fits into our current mix.
You ladies are becoming the go-to for Conscious fashion - what's on your reading list? It’s a pretty wide-ranging mix of media, including a daily dose of Conscious Magazine. (It probably sounds like we’re just saying that, but truly, there’s nothing better than starting the day on an inspiring note!) As for books, we recently interviewed author Emily Spivack and definitely recommend checking out Worn Stories.
Tell us about the brands featured on Brynn Elliott Watkins >
Beautiful Soul London
Beautiful Soul London is a company that advocates and beautifully represents the Made in the UK movement (the British counterpart to the Made in the USA movement). The goal is to preserve craftsmanship in England at a time when so many brands are outsourcing production to countries where labor is cheap and environmental regulations are lax. Beautiful Soul only uses sustainable, organic and Fair Trade fabrics, so all of their designs are eco-friendly to boot.
ACE & JIG
Ace & Jig designers Cary Vaughan and Jenna Wilson travel to India twice a year to work with local textile specialists on custom, yarn-dye fabric that’s woven by hand on an ancient loom. The weavers at the facility receive free child care and have access to organic produce that’s grown on-site using recycled water.
This partnership contributes to the preservation of local textile traditions, and also supports fair trade and environmentally conscious production processes. In addition to this, the designers’ mission is to create comfortable, seasonless pieces that are not driven by short-term trends, but instead will be worn in many ways for many years to come.
Black Top, Printed Skirt
As a whole, the fashion industry only uses about 80-85% of the fabric it produces, meaning that the other 15-20% is discarded unused (without ever being used for clothing). To address textile pollution and its severe environmental repercussions, Daniel Silverstein has made a commitment to zero-waste fashion. Via techniques like appliqué, braiding and pleating, he ensures that every last scrap (99-100%) of fabric he cuts is used.
As for that last 1%? He recently launched The Piece Project, in which he turns small fabric scraps into clothing. Daniel also supports local and American manufacturing by making all of his clothing in NYC's Garment Center.
Catherine Litke sources beautiful, sustainable fabrics from all around the world–for instance, a hand-loomed fabric that can be made without the use of electricity by women in India, allowing them to work from home while generating a sustainable income.
All of the garments are then made here in the U.S., and she does a fantastic job of promoting craftsmanship and reminding us that real people, not machines, make these clothes. You’ll find designs that have been embroidered by hand right here in NYC. For some of her patchwork pieces, she’s worked with quilting circles in upstate New York. She’s employed one of the oldest knitting factories in the U.S. to make her sweaters.
Samantha Pleet is a brilliant young designer who has had a powerful influence on the eco-fashion movement. Since the launch of her namesake label over a decade ago, she has helped make sustainable fashion interesting and relevant to younger and more fashion-forward customers. She works mostly with natural fibers and organic fabrics, and everything is made at a Fair Trade factory in India. Coat by Litke (worn over Samantha Pleet dress).