Image: Citizen’s Mark

When you’re a woman aspiring to make your mark on the world, it’s crucial to be taken seriously. It’s also just as important to have the ability to maintain consistency and authenticity when it comes to values and lifestyle.

This week, I sat down with Citizen’s Mark founder, Cynthia Salim, to talk about the nuanced world of women’s professional wear, projecting credibility, and ethical fashion. Hear her insights from designing for women on the rise and building a responsible supply chain.

Q | Citizen’s Mark is a lifestyle brand for “socially conscious and empowered women on the rise.” How do you define a “socially conscious” woman?
One thing I’ve noticed about our generation is that we think about impact far more widely. It’s not just about the volunteer work we do—we’re very conscious of the social justices issues we come across in every aspect of our lives and feel like we have the agency to do something about it. As professionals, we’re working to change existing industries for the better. As consumers, we’re aligning our purchases with our values. Citizen’s Mark is about amplifying the lifestyle of the socially conscious, empowered woman who thinks about her impact everywhere in her life – from her work to her community to her purchasing decisions. 

Q | Many people have ideas, but it takes grit to pursue and build something from the ground up. What drove you to bring Citizen’s Mark to life?
I had such a tough time finding work wear and quickly realized it was a much deeper issue than clothes. I’d look for professional blazers only to find overly masculine fits or on the flipside, overly playful designs that didn’t convey professionalism. The reality is that there are very few brands that design for young women to look professional and project credibility. There are plenty that affirm other dimensions to us – the yogi, the hipster – but the brand for credible, young woman was missing. I had to change that and get myself (and my peers) something to wear to look credible at work.

Q: How does a Citizen’s Mark blazer stand out from blazers we typically find while shopping?
Citizen’s Mark has a responsible global supply chain that I personally built and is built around our commitment to quality, precision, and thoughtfulness. Our blazers are made of 100% wool from a mill I personally visited in Italy: they purify the water after the dyeing process and lowered the sound of the looms to mitigate noise pollution and hearing loss. For a consistent and precise look, each blazer is laser cut and expertly constructed in specialized suit factory in Portugal that provides living wages and health care coverage to its employees. The cut is fitted and modern, and we’ve put in thoughtful details like a perfectly positioned inside pocket for business cards. They’re also incredibly resilient pieces – as they’re double-pressed by industrial pressing machines, and they’re investment pieces that can easily take you through an entire phase of your career – also a critical component to responsible consumption: buying things that will last.

Q | Why is it important for millennial women to be intentional when choosing their wardrobe?
The way we dress affects the way we feel, how others perceive us, and our ability to influence. As we transition into the “rising,” mid-career professionals stage, it’s important to project that in our professional communities. It’s also a smart move to clear the closet clutter to make decision-making easier in the morning. Owning key pieces that immediately add gravitas to your look (like a high quality blazer) can get you out the door faster and save your decision-making reserve for bigger decisions. 

Q: What are your thoughts on how the fashion industry is doing when it comes to being ethical and responsible? Also, what are your thoughts when it comes to serving career-oriented, millennial women?
I’ve realized that an incredible power of lifestyle brands is to acknowledge communities – if you think about the lifestyle brands that came out of alternative communities, their existence said to the world “we are here, we exist, and we matter.” That’s one of my favorite impact points of Citizen’s Mark – the role it plays in acknowledging the existence of credible, socially conscious, empowered young women, which is something that’s not very present in fashion advertising.

With regards to ethical sourcing and production, the industry is making progress. Although, there is a long way to go. Two challenges I’ve seen are getting consumers used to the real cost of making something ethically and re-shaping their spending patterns (fewer, better things) and the actual operations of building an ethical supply chain. It took Citizen’s Mark over two years to build an uncompromisingly responsible supply chain, and that’s for one item – a blazer. 

Q | What is your vision for Citizen’s Mark? How do you hope it will serve the world?
We’re building Citizen’s Mark to be the go-to brand for women on the rise and establishing high standards for supply chain responsibility. In addition to making well-crafted pieces, we want to be known for finally amplifying and affirming the voice and lifestyle of young women trailblazers.

Q: What kinds of values does a Citizen’s Mark woman have, and how does she tackle challenges?
Something I’ve noticed about the Citizen’s Mark community that emerged is how humble yet unapologetic they are. They’re here to make their mark. It’s been incredible to meet so many grounded women who know who they are, realize what their goals are, and how they unapologetically go for them. There’s less and less shame surrounding being confident and having big goals.

Q | What is your recommendation/advice for women who want to make a difference in the world?
Hunt for the knowledge that matters, then move forward strategically. There’s a lot of soft-skill advice given to women and people on the margins, while those in established circles are spending their time talking business. At the end of the day, in order to influence, you need to understand what’s going to move the needle in your world.

See the Citizen’s Mark Inaugural Collection in NYC at their Open Houses and Gravitas Styling Series.
Shop the Citizen’s Mark Inaugural Collection!

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