A Sustainable Life- L.A. Edition

A month in Los Angeles...

I spent the whole month of May in L.A. this year and to say I was impressed with the abundance of sustainable/ethical/local brands based in the City of Angels is an understatement. While I was aware of the bigger, well-known companies like Reformation, I was time and time again pleasantly surprised with how many ethical options there were at every shop I checked out. While taking advantage of the fact I was a local for a month, I would occasionally window shop to check out some of the brands I hadn't heard of before so I could feel the fabrics and ask the questions, who made the clothes, where the factories were and whatnot. But I decided to also take advantage of the fact that a lot of these companies were producing their pieces right there in L.A. I reached out to as many companies as I could, including the company that makes our ODM/ODC Sustainable is Sexy tees, and got a lot of positive feedback. Not only were companies willing to answer any questions I had but a lot were open to having me visit their headquarters and/or manufacturing warehouses. Transparency at its finest. 

To start, I headed to Groceries Apparel to see where exactly our tees are made and the production process from start to finish. They couldn't have been more open about the entire process which was incredibly important for me, in order to relay all the info to you guys, our customers! I met with the Co-founder of the company and his lead sales rep who told me all about the fabrics they use, where most of their materials are farmed, where their fabrics are dyed, how long they had been in this factory, what future design plans they have for the future, and much much more. I was surprised with how much information they were sharing, especially since growing up I've been used to most companies withholding all this information. We are the buyers and we should be in the know about where everything is made and who all is making it. Why does it have to be so secretive? Groceries Apparel doesn't think so. Below are pictures of their staple tees and the factory where everything is sewn, cut, and sampled. 

Groceries Apparel

Made in L.A.

Pattern making, cutting...

Sewing and bagging away to be dyed at their nearby dye factory!

Next up, I got to meet with the talented visionary behind the L.A. apparel company, EVERYBODY.WORLD. Iris, co-founder of the company previously worked at American Apparel and took everything she learned from working there to create her own line of simple basics, ethically made in L.A. Iris was kind enough to invite me to her L.A. headquarters to talk about the company and how they came about. 

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Iris Alonzo

Co-Founder of EVERYBODY.WORLD

Differing from Groceries, Iris talked about her love of recycled cotton, a newer innovation they're working with to use the discarded fluff that gets wasted when you spin cotton buds into yarn. Oftentimes, this fluff is thrown away. Iris figured it's worth a shot using this as fabric, and therefore a lot of their tees and future products will be made with the "recycled" form of cotton, closing the production loop even further. The funny thing is, there isn't any right or wrong way. While Groceries focuses on organic fabrics, EVERYBODY.WORLD specializes in this recycled material and puts organics lower on their list of priorities. What I started to realize after talking with both companies is that everyone is doing what they can to be better and do better. While some smaller companies can't always afford organic cotton (a lot of the bigger corporations like H&M are buying all the organic materials which drives up costs exponentially), there's always a way to try and be better which is what EVERYBODY.WORLD is after. After recycled cotton, treating their workers well and working with their community is high up on their list of non-negotiables. A lot of their designs have been made through collaborations with people in their community. 

Prakash'a Perfect Sweatpants

Prakash Gokalchand is a 76-year-old spiritualist and chess enthusiast with classic, unassuming style.

The fact that they're collaborating with people in their community to find out what exactly matters to them and what they'd like to see in their ideal pieces of clothing is incredibly inspiring. Talk about giving back to their community!

Some more of our L.A. favorites!

L.A. Style

Below find some of my favorite sustainable pieces I wore throughout my L.A. trip... My Groceries Apparel tee, Levi's jacket I wore to the Eat.Drink.Vegan festival (reusable cutlery from Joseph.Joseph in tow for all the samples!) and the white blouse I found at the Venice Beach flea held on the weekend. Perfectly paired with my friend's gifted vintage Calvin Kleins! 

Suggestions?

Have a favorite sustainable/ethical/made in L.A. brand you'd like us to profile? Comment below, we're always looking to learn more!<3

How I Deal With Anxiety

Living in a big city like NYC, and especially since modeling, I’ve become prone to running a little on the anxious side. I like to think of myself as a calm and collected, easygoing Canadian who is down to go with the flow but oftentimes find myself getting worked up, whether it be easily justifiable or not. I’ve learned some coping mechanisms but I’m not perfect and sometimes I slip. My cuticles for instance are bitten and chewed up since I was 13 which is one way my body 'deals' with stress, sometimes without me even knowing I'm doing it. Whether it be from living in a city of constant overdrive, comparing myself to others, or dealing with unexplainable emotions, here’s how I try my best to stay sane, stay grounded, and keep on smiling.

Living in New York City I feel blessed. It’s definitely not for everyone (and definitely not permanent for me) but for now, I have anything and everything at my fingertips, no matter what time of day and am continually stimulated by the electrifying energy of the city. It has a way of sparking all the ambition and drive into my core that living in a smaller city doesn't give me at this point in my life. The streets are a continuous symphony of cars humming, horns honking, people yelling all on their path to achieving their dreams, not stopping for any slow walkers on the way. Move out of the way or get out of our city, is something that I think runs through a lot of our heads. While some can’t live like this, I truly believe New York is not for the faint of heart, it’s exactly where I need to be right now, but is definitely a temporary situation. My heart beats faster here, I walk faster here, I talk faster and get-shit-done faster, but a lot of the times I feel it’s at the expense of my health and wellness. To combat the anxiety and still thrive in the city of dreams, I find it’s important to remove myself every once in a while, if work allows it. I’m lucky enough that for modeling, I can decide which city to be based out of. I can go to Germany or Los Angeles for the month to get away, I recently did a month-long trip to L.A., which always helps calm my senses. However, come the last week of the month I will be itching to get back, to fill my veins with whatever potion New York uses on you to keep you addicted to the grind. It works. But it also really helps me to be removed from it for a while. Even if it’s something as simple as going for a hike upstate for an afternoon. That little burst of fresh air and calmness is all I need to feel rejuvenated and get back to the grind. 

A friend of mine recently said every Friday, instead of going out for drinks, her and her husband will cook dinner together, throw on some classical music and slow dance the night away. Just by themselves in their apartment. No one to tell them what to do or how they should be having fun. They’re not removing themselves from the city per say but they’re removing themselves from the idea that on weekends, we must go out and drink to relax. For them, simply enjoying their home life and a good meal and of course each other’s company is the reset they need to feel energized to get back to work each and every Monday. Find what that something is. Find an activity you like that isn’t dictated necessarily by the city you live in or the people you hang out with and enjoy it to the fullest. I challenge you do it and maybe not even post about it too. Sometimes our best memories are the ones we keep to ourselves. 

On that note, my boyfriend and I have been living together for nearly six years. We’re lucky enough to have almost the exact same living standards. But of course we get on each other’s nerves and I think what’s helped us stay so close after six and a half years together is the fact we’re able to separate for a weekend or a month, focus on ourselves and have our “me time” and then similar to when I leave New York, it’s like we’re starting the relationship from scratch each time we meet back up again. This past L.A. trip, I was home before he was back from work and while I was waiting for him I felt like a little teenage girl excited to go on a date for the first time. I was giggly and nervous and it was exactly what we needed to hit the refresh button and get our own shit done respectively. 

Beyond living in a big city, another thing that ‘gets me’, i.e. makes me a nervous wreck from time to time is the negative side effects of social media. I’m not one of those anti-social media people, for me it allows me to share the entire picture of who is Britt and what my passions and hobbies are beyond modeling. It’s my portfolio for clients to look at so they see what kind of personality they’ll get by booking me for a shoot. It’s a platform I’m privileged to have 20 thousand people listening to me to share what charities I’m passionate about or what causes I think people should learn about. It’s a privilege. But naturally it comes with a down side. I try and let the whole numbers thing not get to me and I hope all the young girls and guys who are growing up with social media (mainly my brother’s generation, ages 10-18) realize that there’s so much more to the number of followers you have or the amount of likes you get. For me, it’s exceptionally hard because I often won’t get booked because I have somewhat of a small following. I always joke, it’s quality versus quantity, but none of the clients want to hear that. While I really don’t think 100,000 potentially bought followers who are mainly creepy men will affect the sales of whatever top or lipstick your modeling, no one has really caught on/checked the analytics to see if the higher numbers are positively affecting sales. Naturally, this gets to me. I see all my friends with hundreds of thousands of followers booking all the jobs I had casted for, or didn’t even get a casting for, and generally speaking most people only post their best selves. I truly admire and appreciate the girls who show the full picture, show off their bad skin that they inevitably get every once in a while, and who use their platforms to promote good causes (check out @cameronrussell, @renee.elizabethpeters, @anja_rubik, to name a few…). This is what I try and emulate and is when I feel most positive about my Instagram use for instance. When people respond to an environmental post that they’re going to stop using plastic bags, I’m thrilled. When I look at whatever the next celebrity kid is booking or how the shoot turned out for the casting I didn’t get, I feel defeated. 

What I find helps combat the part that makes me least confident, i.e. right after and endless scroll of social media seeing all the girls with better bodies, better skin, more work, more followers, is by getting off social media and not making it the thing that dictates my moods. Instead I know it sounds cheesy but reading a good book, writing in my journal or an article like this, going for a run or workout always leaves me feeling better about myself. Not working today but all the other models are? Use that to your advantage. They’re stuck in a studio all day, you get to go for a run, stay outside and lay in the sun or cozy up on the couch with a good book. It’s all about how you use the platforms and how easily it is for you to remove yourself from in once in a while. It’s hard not to compare yourself, no matter the career you’re in but always know that no one else can be you. You are your own self, you have your own beliefs and passions and things that make you unique and that’s what’s most beautiful about life, none of us are exactly the same.  When I post a decent selfie where my skin looks good, just know that’s me 10% of the time. The rest of the time I may have a zit or two or three and I may not always share the bad sides. Think Josh and I are always that sweet smily couple who look perfectly kept together and like we've never been in a fight? Hah!! We use social media to promote our best selves, often trying to be like the next best person but sometimes we can lose what makes us most unique in the process. So, as I write this (which is also an important reminder for myself to live by), I say be you, your full authentic self, nothing more and appreciate all the unique qualities you have and celebrate that!

Probably at the expense of living in a crazy city or being in an industry dictated by social media, sometimes the moods I get in feel completely unexplainable. I’m generally a pretty happy-go-lucky person but sometimes I’ll wake up in a funk that dictates how I feel and act all day, its unexplainable and it downright sucks. Generally speaking it’s because of something deeper I’m not tapping into like being overtired from work, an unresolved fight with a boyfriend or simply needing to relax and be by myself. So, if I find I’m in an unexplainable mood I always try and find out the root cause.  If I’m tired, I’ll skip the workout that day. If I have enough energy and think a workout will help get rid of the stress, I’ll do a little pump. If I’m feeling a lack of connection simply from grinding away too long, I’ll ask a friend to hang out together whether it be working at a coffee shop or going for a drink. A lot of the friends I surround myself with are always incredibly helpful in resolving whatever mood I may be in. The closest girls and guys I hang with are the types you leave each conversation feeling like you’ve learned something. The conversations are deep and exactly what I need to take my mood off of whatever negativity I’m feeling. Or we may be that ear they needed to talk to without any judgment and simply listen. Human interaction in a city like New York seems inevitable but oftentimes were so focused on all our work and projects we forget to make time for our friends. While this ‘solution’ is a little more far-fetched, I think a lot of the moods I get in personally can be solved if I try and find the root cause of whatever hurt I’m feeling. Whether it be writing in a journal, laying low with a good movie and comfy couch, a much-needed catch up with a friend or an adrenaline pumping workout, thinking deeply about all the ways your hurting and trying to fix them are a lot more helpful for me than moping around in my sorrows. 

This may seem like an oversimplified post that only affects a small population. I have an incredible job so how is it that I can get anxious or feel down sometimes? But I truly believe it’s something we all go through, to whatever degree, and I think taking time to think about your feelings and what makes you, you are what gets me through the hardest of days. If it’s unexplainable to a surmounting degree and it truly seems unexplainable, talk to a friend or loved one. Tell them you’re in a funk, you don’t know why and you just need a good hang or talk to get over it. Nothing is not worth reaching out to someone for, so always try and be true to your feelings and if it’s not something you can get up and change yourself, don’t feel bad. It’s normal to feel overworked, overwhelmed, unexplainably anxious and while the tools I share help me for the most part, a good chat with a friend is often the best medicine. 

More Impact, Less Harm!

Between Fashion Revolution Week April 23-29th and Earth Day on April 22, it’s an important time for us all to reflect on our positive and negative impacts on the environment. 

Prior to starting ODM/ODC, I had little knowledge of the effects of fast fashion on our environment and on the people who make our clothes. $5 seemed like a bargain for a t-shirt and I found myself flocking to fast fashion retailers, desperate to buy the newest trends for as cheap as possible. Even being in the industry myself, having witnessed first-hand the difference between well-made clothes with beautiful fabrics and time consuming handwork and cheap fast fashion that felt as if it were about to fall apart, I found it hard to wrap my head around the fact that there is a crucial difference between a $5 throwaway and something that would cost me a lot but my last a life time. This is the problem many people face without even knowing it because of the marketing we are bombarded with each day. Consumers now expect to pay as little as possible for more clothing without realizing who is really paying for the pay-cut. 

It wasn’t until living four and a half years in NYC as a full-time model that I began to realize the negative impacts of fast fashion. A fellow model and friend of mine, Cameron Russel had a meeting for models in NYC to talk about how to best use our platforms to advocate for matters that are important to us, for her it was women’s rights and the environment, especially fashion’s impact on the environment. It was at this specific meeting that I realized the fashion industry is one of the ‘dirtiest’ out there. In terms of pollution, worker’s rights and fabric waste, the industry has much to improve upon. 

Something recent that ignited the fire for people to advocate for a better industry was the tragic Rana Plaza factory collapse in Bangladesh, five years ago on April 24, 2013. After numerous warnings that the building had visible dangerous cracks, workers were demanded to go to work regardless, and a day after many had complained, the building collapsed killing 1,138 people and injuring 2,500. It was the fourth largest industrial disaster in history. Tons of brands were identified in the rubble, many western , although it took many years for all those involved to own up to their involvement in this atrocious disaster. The disaster was fueled by political corruption and corporate greed perpetuated by the idea that our clothes needed to be made faster, be made cheaper all at the cost of the workers in third world countries where factories were unsafe and workers conditions were forgotten. 

Now, five years what has changed? 

Brands and customers seem to be more conscious of what they buy, what materials they’re using to produce clothing and who are the makers behind it all. The Fashion Revolution non-profit was made to promote genuine change and inspire others to be curious about where all their clothes are made. The industry hasn’t totally transformed but brands big and small are definitely taking strides to be more transparent about all their production processes, which is a huge step in the right direction. [1]

The Fashion Revolution created the hashtag #WhoMadeMyClothes? to inspire customers to reach out to the companies they buy from and see if they respond about their supply chain. Companies big and small including H&M, ASOS, and Adidas are working with their customers to share their suppliers, proof that some positive change is being made. 

The Fashion Revolution organization also encourages easy steps for those in and outside of the fashion industry to take to ensure we’re all on the path to better production. These steps include an action kit with information on how to get involved globally at each and every fashion revolution week event. Things like printable posters to share on social media, campaigns to share with friends and followers on social media with important facts and quotes, encouraging consumers to share their fashion love story. The fashion love story should be used to write a love letter to a piece of clothing you already own encouraging consumers to shop less and find love in things they already own. Similarly, the organization created the hashtag #haulternative which inspires consumers to refresh their closets in a new way such as shopping secondhand, swapping with friends or doing DIY customization. The last steps to inspire change are to actively reach out to policymakers, writing letters to brands and then downloading their educational resources which includes worksheets, activities and information to show how you can be a student ambassador at your school. 

Whitney Bauck, editor at Fashionista magazine is passionate about the intersection of fashion, faith and ethics and often writes about these issues, especially when they pertain to fashion. Since the factory collapse, Bauck explains another positive step towards ensuring a healthy and safe work environment in the Bangladeshi garment industry with The Accord, a five-year legally-binding agreement between large corporations and trade unions. [2] With the Accord in place, factories are continually inspected to ensure safe working conditions and are financially backed to upgrade safety measures. If you refuse to work with The Accord you could lose out on working with international brands that are signed up. Now, factory safety is no longer a “Western Luxury”. Because of these improved safety conditions, the amount of deaths per year has significantly dropped from 71 workers pre Rana Plaza to 17 workers annually now. [3]

There is however much more improvement needed. While the amount of unions surged immediately after the Rana Plaza disaster, activity has since slowed down, many people claiming to have been beaten up by police officials if they were involved in unions. There is hardly any backing of these unions from government officials. [4] Companies are pushing for safer working conditions yet often don’t want to pay for it. It’s tough without these unions to impose proper working wages or overtime pay for instance. [5]

In addition to these resources, I personally only try and shop from brands that are transparent about who makes their clothes, where they are made and the materials they use. There are enough brands out there doing it ‘right’ for me that I find I have enough resources available to shop. As of late, I’ve found I haven’t really had to buy any new clothes at all but will try and shop secondhand or swap with friends if I need something specific! It’s a fun way to spice up your closet, save some money and ensure you’re not contributing to environmental harm. Check out this article where I talk about a clothing swap I did with some friends in NYC! 

With organizations like the Fashion Revolution, companies who are willing to change and friends and family who are inspired to do good, we can all work together to demand better conditions for all workers and for the environment we all often take for granted. Which leads to another important holiday that falls right before Fashion Revolution week, Earth Day!

Earth Day is a global annual celebration to demonstrate support for environmental protection. From the amount of plastic used, the amount of material waste, contaminated rivers and streams, greenhouse gas emissions, the food industry, makeup and hair, the list goes on about ways in which we can all collectively work to ensure better conditions for our environment. 

With plastic waste alone, and even more specifically single-use straw waste, over 500,000,000 plastic straws are used EVERYDAY in the United States, many of which end up discarded in our ocean. It’s something so simple we can all say no to, to alleviate the amount of plastic ending up in our oceans and killing our ecosystems. I took the pledge to #stopsucking on single-use plastic straws and instead use bamboo straws if need be. Paper straws are a great alternative however if you don’t have to, using none is even better! Similarly, I always bring reusable bags to the grocery store, am never without my reusable water bottle and reusable coffee mug! I’m always on the go, so it also helps to have a metal fork and spoon on hand (I have a few in every purse). It’s little steps like this that we can all implement in our lives that will help make a difference. We can also reach out to our local restaurants, coffee shops (hello Starbucks!) and policymakers to address the abundance of plastic use and see if there’s a feasible solution that’s better for the environment. 

This past Earth Day, I had originally planned to skip all the fun activities and watch a Raptors basketball game in D.C. which would include four + hour bus rides each way to and from NYC. What was environmentally friendly about that? Being stuck in a bus most of the day and contributing to the carbon footprint wasn’t ideal. We decided to skip the game and spend as much time as we could outdoors and ended up having one of the most fun weekends I’ve had in a while. 

We started off our day by not using the lights as much as possible. Sure we had to get ready in a little bit of darkness but the light shining in from our windows did the trick. Next we went to our local coffee shop and used a cup to stay and my reusable mug. We then decided to do a 5k run and pick up trash along the way. This is called ‘plogging’ picking up trash while jogging and is huge in the Scandinavia. [6] It’s a fun way to keep our grounds clean and I must add definitely added a strength component to the workout! After our run, we made sure to bring our reusable bags with us and headed to the grocery store for a shop having them bag up everything in our own bags. Afterwards, we walked home along the east river and enjoyed the rest of the sunny day. It was a fun day outside where we got to admire mother nature and tried to make a difference where we could. It’s things we try and implement into our daily lives anyways but was a nice reminder to not leave the lights on, not have the tap run unnecessarily, pick up trash whenever you can and be cognizant of your impacts on the environment. 

So, what changes are you going to make in your life? For our environment, for the people who make our clothes, for the companies we invest our money in and for the life we leave behind for future generations. Share some things you already do and what steps you’d like to implement into your lives, we’d love to hear your suggestions! 

*Opening image shot by Leeor Wild for ADAY's new minimal waste campaign 

People Tree; Doing it RIGHT!

People Tree is a leader in ethical and sustainable fashion. With credentials running from WTFO accreditation to the Fairtrade Foundation and using GOTS certified cotton, People Tree goes above and beyond to ensure their customer is getting something of quality that isn't at the cost of our environment or the people who make each garment. With the upcoming Fashion Revolution Week and Earth Day nearby, I decided to interview Katy Hughes, account director of People Tree to hear her intake on the future of sustainable fashion and how People Tree ensures they're production process is ethical and sustainable. 

*Use code 'ODMODC10' for 10% off new arrivals!

1) For someone new to the sustainable world, what are some key small steps they can look out for when shopping to ensure they’re investing in a good company?

If you want to shop more consciously, it comes down to paying attention to sustainable and ethical aspects, buying fashion which is better for the environment but also ensuring good and safe working conditions for the people behind it. Being mindful to either of this is already a great step in the right direction. To make sure you’re investing in a company which is actually following these ethics, have a look out for credentials. Certifications like Fair Trade and GOTS are awarded by independent organizations and their strict standards are reviewed regularly. While many fashion brands talk about ethical fashion, these credentials mean you can actually trust how the products are made and ensures you’re investing in a good company. This is a huge support for consumers trying to find orientation in the ethical fashion world. It might also be helpful to read some blogs from independent experts in this area for some advice and guidelines. Apart from that, always keep in mind that doing something is better than doing nothing and every little step contributes to a big change. 

2) People Tree is Certified in many ways from GOTS to SOIL and WFTO to ensure proper sustainable and ethical measures are taken when going into production, which is fabulous! What are the steps to certification and how easy would it be for a smaller company like ODM/ODC to get certified?

To be Fair Trade certified, you have to become a member of the WFTO and put their 10 principles into action and ensure living wages along your whole supply chain. Then you do the audit to become certified and you need to attend regular checkups and peer visits to show that you continue following the 10 Fair Trade principles.

For the GOTS certification you also start by building up a GOTS certified supply chain and finding an Organic cotton supplier who can provide you with a transaction certificate for all the cotton you use. Then you apply to GOTS and have an annual audit to prove that you have all of the documentation. It will also be checked if you are ethical and sustainable in other processes along the supply chain from the office to packaging.

So to become certified with these credentials, it is important to show some action first and put their standards into practice so you can pass the audit. It definitely requires a lot of work, but we think that it is possible to achieve for small companies as well, as everyone has to start somewhere. 

Even if you take on the road slowly, it still is a step in the right direction and you will get there one day. Till then, make sure to be transparent about what you’re doing and illustrate your supply chain to your customers so they can be sure to trust and rely on your ethics. 

3) A lot of people think ‘Made in USA’ is the best way to ensure sustainable and ethical practices. However, a lot of your products are produced overseas. Although it took me a while, I’ve finally come to understand the importance of preserving cultures, giving underdeveloped countries the proper tools for ethical production and a sustainable working wage to ensure available work for these markets but some people don’t understand the whole picture. Made in USA however doesn’t always mean it’s better…How do you convey the difference to your customers?

With the specific aim of Fairtrade to support farmers and suppliers in the developing world, as a WFTO accredited company for us it is a key aspect of our mission to help people build a sustainable livelihood and reach economic independence. We do realize that farmers and workers in the US or UK might face similar challenges to our producers, however we have focused on supporting the growth and development of disadvantaged communities. 

From our point of view, either approach, the local production or the Fairtrade support, is good and valuable. But it is important to know, that in terms of good working conditions, the producer country itself doesn’t give any information or guarantee. Instead, credentials like the Fair Trade mark give insight into standards that you can rely on. 

4) Something many conscious consumers in the sustainable world have trouble with is the idea that simply producing more clothing (whether it’s sustainable or not) is bad for the environment. How do you justify making more clothes? 

Here at People Tree we are very happy that the topic of sustainable fashion finally gets more awareness and consumers are adapting conscious shopping habits. However, we think that is still a long way to go till the change actually becomes part of our daily lives, so making and selling more clothes is crucial to sustainable brands as it allows us to grow and spread the word further. 

In addition to that, sustainable production techniques like organic farming will be used more broadly with increasing production numbers, which actually benefits the environment. Organic farming builds a strong and healthy soil and preserves water, so the more organic crops are grown, the bigger the positive influence on the environment is. 

As a small and ethical company, when we consider a complex issue, we have to weigh up pros and cons from different perspectives and review the impacts of every decision we take. 

In this case, we think that at the point where our society is at now, it is still more important to meet customer’s demands and offer a wide selection to allow them to slowly amend their habits. We also figure that producing higher numbers so that we’re able to offer our garments to a broad audience is crucial to promote sustainable production and trading techniques.

5) Sustainability seems to be trending in the fashion world. Hopefully it’s not a trend that goes out of style. What are some positive shifts you’ve seen in the past five years in the fashion industry in relation to sustainability and ethical production?

A positive shift can definitely be witnessed in the growth of the interest. More and more people are curious about the topic and start talking about it. Social media is full of hashtags, conversations and blogs focusing on sustainable fashion. Our follower and customer numbers are growing continuously and it doesn’t seem like it will stop soon. 

Once people have learned about this topic, it is impossible to forget. That differs the rise of sustainable fashion from a trend. It is not based on taste, but the whole movement relies in facts that have been researched thoroughly for years. More than that, the negative impacts of our current lifestyle and economic processes show clearly which results in more people realizing the importance of a sustainable lifestyle. Especially the younger generation who will face the consequences even more therefore grows up with a complete different view to this topic. Their higher sensitivity towards sustainability could have been noticed in the past year and makes us believe that the growth will continue. 

More than that, there have been massive upheavals in the industry: Several brands are committing to sustainable and fair practices, the Australian Vogue just appointed the first sustainability editor at large, traditional fabric fairs show lots of innovative sustainable materials and universities offer specific programs focused on educating experts for this branch. All these changes point out, that sustainability in fashion is not just a trend, but a change that came to stay.

6) What are the next steps for People Tree? How do you see yourselves evolving in the next five to ten years? 

At People Tree, we have been innovating ourselves and the industry continuously whether by introducing new design and crafting techniques, innovative fabrics or implementing Fairtrade standards into the fashion industry. 

As a pioneer in the sustainable and fair fashion world, we know exactly how important it is to question the status quo and go with the time, because there is always room for improvement. 

For the next few years we aspire to maintain the role as a pioneer in the industry by continuously implementing more sustainable production materials and techniques. As one of our key missions from the very beginning is also to support underprivileged people from around the world we also want to keep taking on more partners. 

It is our vision to make sustainable and fair fashion the norm. To achieve this, we are expanding our clothes range every season with introducing more styles and launching new products like our underwear range. We want to make a broad range of garments available to as many people as possible including men and kids, which we are already working on. 

At People Tree we never stop evolving and as the fashion industry especially in this niche is evolving very fast, we might ourselves be surprised what we’ll all have achieved in ten years. 

7) In your opinion, what is the most unsustainable part of the fashion industry? What are you doing to combat this?

The most unsustainable part of the fashion industry in our opinion is the use of unsustainable, artificial materials, the use of hazardous chemicals and energy-intensive production techniques which are exploiting our resources and damaging our environment. 

But this is also the part where you can achieve the biggest change. People will always be shopping clothes which is good to some extent as this strengthens our worldwide economy. So instead of trying to break people’s habits and fight consumption, why not changing the habits instead and make use of the situation for good. 

Consuming fashion is not the problem. What you consume is what makes the difference.

This is why here at People Tree we only use environmentally friendly processes along the whole supply chain. From sourcing organic fibers via using natural dyes through to promoting the use of carbon neutral handcrafting skills and choosing sea shipments, sustainability lies at the heart of everything we do.  

Perks are that this also results in comfier, long lasting and unique garments. 

a) What about ethically?

The most unethical part is the exploitation of workers along the whole fashion supply chain. Humans are working hard to create beautiful garments for us and aren’t even paid a living wage, let alone valued for their skills. More than that they’re facing safety risks whilst having to work under dangerous and unhealthy working conditions. 

To combat this, People Tree has obliged to work under the WFTO’s standards from the very beginning. The World Fair Trade Organization (WFTO) is an internationally recognized organization that aims to improve the livelihood of disadvantaged producers and introduce fair working standards for greater justice in world trade. 

Like all their members, we have to ensure to meet their 10 standards of Fair Trade. More than that, People Tree was actively involved in writing these guidelines which equally address economic and social topics.

At People Tree, we’re really proud to be the world’s first clothing company that received the their product mark in 2013, which means that we’re dedicated to these principles throughout the whole supply chain from the design, to the fabric and the production processes in every garment.

Fair Trade is at the heart of our mission to combat the most unethical parts of the fashion industry. 

*Use code 'ODMODC10' for 10% off new arrivals!

Festival Season

Festival season is here, which means you may be compelled to fill your closet with new outfits worn by your favorite celebs and models... some of which will only be worn once and then forgotten about or tossed away. SO our solution is the sustainable festival season edit with pieces that will help you stand out in that crowd but are made with integrity, will last way more than a few washes and can be worn year round whether you're parading across the fields of Coachella or spicing up your look for brunch with friends. Check out our favorites below! 

Calm Before the Storm

My good friend Dani and I have been in the modeling industry for six to 12 years respectively, and plan to stay in it as long as it will let us. While we’ve learned the tips and tricks to navigate our jobs with as much calmness as physically possible, it goes without saying that we’re in a tough industry that is both physically and emotionally draining. We’re constantly in a state of anxiety with our last minute schedules and every friend we seem to make will come and go from NYC as fast as the latest juice shop. For the friends that remain constant, we’re often competing for the same jobs… stressful to say the least. 

For Dani and I, we realized the way that we can calmly remain in such a hectic industry is by focussing our energy and downtime on side gigs and hobbies outside of the modeling world. For me, that was the inspiration behind starting this sustainable company, ODM/ODC. While I love my job and what I do, I was beginning to find it difficult to be in an industry that was not only competitive with my peers but also one that was quite wasteful. Rather than quitting, I thought I could continue modeling and using all the connections I’ve made the past six years to create something positive that would hopefully help create change, for me it was by starting a sustainable company. This will hopefully not only help me learn and grow but motivate those around me to do better. 

Dani has always had a passion about getting her community together to do fun activities. She recently launched Ladyballerzz, a community give-back initiative to get her peers together for a fun game of basketball. She was sick of paying at least $15 per for a workout all around the city and wanted to give her community a fun free workout that would get people moving and laughing off the stress of their day jobs. Ladyballerzz pairs up with The City Basketball which is a 501(C)(3) non profit youth organization serving New York City student-athletes. They believe basketball is a vehicle to keep the youth safe and off the streets and work on inspiring student-athletes to become well-rounded individuals by instilling patience, self discipline, hard work and commitment; something that goes hand in hand with Dani's mission. 

In starting our own companies, we realized a lot of our friends had cool side gigs going on as well! As we mentally prepared for the upcoming fashion week, we thought what better way to give back to our own community by having a night of pampering to help our friends and peers as they gear up for fashion week. We would break down all the negative barriers that are often attached with being in the fashion world, as well as celebrating all our close friends who had incredible projects of their own. For the younger models in attendance, we hoped this would be a night for them to relax and realize that having something on the side often helps to alleviate the stress and loneliness that comes along with our jobs. If modeling is their main thing at the moment, great! As long as there is love and passion behind what you do day to day, I think it makes it much easier to stay motivated and grounded in this city. And for when it gets a little too stressful, hopefully at our event they were able to meet a new friend who they can turn to for support. 

We started the event with a little chat about how Dani and I navigate this industry, what we do in our off time with ODM/ODC and Ladyballerzz as well as an introduction to both of our biggest inspirations in the modeling world, Toni Garrn. She shared with the girls how she’s been able to maintain such a successful career for so long all whilst creating her own give-back foundation, the Toni Garrn Foundation. Beyond modeling, one of Toni’s biggest passion is little kids and with her own foundation she works to create schools in Africa and spread the message that education is a right, not a privilege. It’s doing work like this on the side where Toni can use her success in the industry to spread this important message to all of her friends and following. As models, we are all incredibly blessed to have huge social media platforms for people to listen and look up to. Rather than abusing this power, Toni makes sure that all of her followers know the importance of education to little kids around the world, especially in Zimbabwe where she has helped build schools, separate laboratories and dormitories for all the kids she works with. Inspiring to say the least. 

We also wanted to make sure our community knew about all our other friend’s cool side projects they had, as this is what truly makes our New York community so special. Our vendors included:

Aine Campbell; Focuses on professional development outside of modeling. They connect you with mentors and resources around being an entrepreneur and also will connect you with other models who are on a similar journey. Events coming up with year: "What does a model resume look like?" and "How to build a website (in partnership with Squarespace)" and Models disrupting the fashion industry with tech."

Zoe Colivas of Zoe’s Table; Zoe realized the importance of balancing health and wellness on the go by creating easy recipes that are delicious and easy to take with you on your castings. She loves bringing her community together over a good meal and conversation.

Joe Holder; Joe is a top NYC trainer who values balancing health and wellness with mindfulness. His holistic approach to working out sets him apart from other trainers and his workouts are manageable and incredibly effective!!

Rebecca Casino; Rebecca talked to you all about eco-friendly beauty and the importance of tuning into your authentic self and taking time to care for your mind and body.

Face Love; What looked to be THE MOST relaxing facials where provided to you by Face Love. They made our event that much more special. 

Dominyka Gajauskaite of Amberlight Beauty; Dominyka started her own skin care line as a result of being sick of the unfriendly products being used on her face time and time again. Her serums are our favorite...

Our guests were able to mingle and network with our vendors to figure out more about their products and companies. In addition to these vendors, we had a huge list of sponsors who were able to make our gift bags SO special. A big thank you to Ripe, ADAY, Amberlight Beauty, BOKA, The Bosco, Cat's Jewelry, EcoEnclose, Faubourg, Health Ade, Jaw x Jawshop, Kalumi, Rise, RYU, Schmidt's Deodorant ,Sub Rose, Redd Bar and Vermont Village

Check out the pictures from our event. It was a lovely way to celebrate each other and our community, meet new faces and have a new friend to turn to whenever living in New York or navigating the fashion industry gets a bit too tough. Stay tuned for more events in the future!

A Little Reminder For The New Year...

There's nothing more satisfying than being able to hit the refresh button on New Year's Day as we set new goals and look back on ones previously written, a visual marker of your past year and what you have to look forward to. 

What I like about these lists are that they help me celebrate past accomplishments and gear me up for new ones ahead. However, instead of feeling good about ourselves, there's an endless amount of pressure on what we're meant to be for the next year, oftentimes a fabrication of the mass-media on what will make us 'better' people. Things like needing to lose weight, workout more, try harder, make more money, eat healthier, and the like. Pressure that amounts up to feeling 'less than' which negatively affects our emotional and physical state.  Not a good way to start any year!

As I looked back on my resolutions from last year, I was happy to see I had certain things checked off the list. But this year, I didn't feel too bad about things I had left untouched. I gained weight, I didn't hit the 5k mark on the ODM/ODC social media, I wasn't even close to writing one blog post a week, I had become less patient than the start of the year, Instagram was still a daily ritual and money was being spent on car-ride services as if I lived in a city with dismal public transport... When I really thought about it, for what I 'missed' on accomplishing I had so many more experiences and memories that weren't even goals of mine from the previous year's resolution. And that is what we should be celebrating the most! 

As I move forth into 2018 I will now asses how integral it is that I get old goals done as I edit and add to the New Year's resolution. Let's be honest, as much weight as we all think we need to lose, when we look back on old pictures we're always stunned at how good we looked, even if we were so unhappy at the time. It's all about perception and prioritizing the important things in life. While I'd never want my health or wellness to deteriorate, I'm not going to punish myself by skipping the cake and overworking myself in the gym. I know I feel best when I get a good workout in and have a sense of balance with my meals. Weight loss, not integral. Feeling happy, healthy and confident, integral (whether I gain a few pounds or not).

Meditation was such a big goal for mine this past year and so to hold myself accountable I will write daily about my meditation experiences and how I feel before and after each practice. Meditating will inevitably help me with other things on the list as well; stress management, patience, and health and wellness to name a few. The structure I found that worked incredibly well was to organize my list by important categories in my life:

  • WORK
  • PERSONAL
  • RELATIONSHIPS
  • SIDE HUSTLE

Of course we can all afford to do better and goal setting is something I am extremely passionate about but as I continue forth with the new year, I am trying my best to not get down on myself for what gets left unachieved. Societal standards are set so high and with social media we're constantly left feeling bad about ourselves. We see first-hand what beautiful trips our friends are going on, who is skinnier, what friend got whatever promotion and we often forget about our own achievements. 

So, as we start the new year off on the right foot  remember to never stop celebrating all you have achieved, however big or small it may seem. Continue to set realistic goals for yourself on your resolution lists and don't forget about the ones you've left behind, there's always next year to get them done. Track your daily rituals with journal-writing so you can look back on things you may have forgotten. Be happy for your friends and family who are living their best lives all whilst knowing we often only share our best moments on social media. Don't compare yourself so much and always be proud of the work you do, the life you live, the health you have and the person you are. 

Some products to help you keep on track, revisit past goals and to celebrate the new... <3

The Production Process...

We did it!

We finally have some of our own product on the site... Nothing makes us happier than promoting the sustainable and ethical companies we love and trust, but we've always had the itch to create our own stuff and finally we can say we're making strides in the right direction.

The Start...

With the help of online accelerator program Factory45, we were able to seamlessly source materials, factories, suppliers, you name it, with sustainability and ethical production at heart. Shannon Whitehead founder of Factory45, collected everything she learned from starting her own sustainable company and decided to create an online accelerator course to help other passionate entrepreneurs in the eco-friendly world. For anyone with a desire to learn anything pertaining to sustainable production, this course is a gold mine!

We initially had plans to start ODM/ODC with our own line of off-duty model basics, but after some thought, we decided it was a smarter choice to focus on one piece and do it well. Enter the perfect white tee. Our hope is to expand on the wardrobe staple in the future, once we really get the hang of things.  

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The Perfect White Tee

Living in New York City certainly has it benefits, especially for those of us who work in the fashion industry. There are plenty of manufacturing options available, but trying to get your own products or garments made can get a little pricey, especially if you hope to do so in an ethical and sustainable way. That means we had to make a few compromises throughout this whole process, but regardless of that, we promise to continue being open and honest about our methods and practices. That is our main goal. 

If a company produces their clothes overseas but works with a factory that takes care of their workers and ensures proper wages, that's great! We'll promote that kind of work. If they use sustainable materials but may not be fully transparent about their factories, we'll still promote them, but we'll let you know they don't disclose the factories they use.

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When it came to deciding on the production process for our perfect white tee, we knew if if we were going to use cotton, we'd make sure it was organic. And since  organic cotton uses a vast amount of water to produce, we decided it was best to source the  material locally to ensure we weren't using an excess of water in addition to flying the materials overseas  and increasing our carbon footprint. Ethical production was also a big concern, so we chose to use a factory in Brooklyn, giving us the freedom to check in on the production process and meet the people who were making our clothes! By using organic cotton we compromised on water waste but made sure to use a factory that was open with us about their policies.

Surprises along the way...

In addition to chasing the perfect factory, it was important for us to get the fabric right. One thing we learned, though, was that it’s very hard to find a supplier who is open to working with a new company with low production minimums. Luckily, through Factory45, we were able to find a supplier in New York City’s  garment district who had organic cotton sourced locally from Texas. (I will note, however, that when I asked to learn more about the actual cotton farm, the supplier didn’t provide further information. The experience taught me to be more diligent about getting as much information as possible in the future, and I pledge to do that to my best abilities from here on out.)

Eventually, , we were  able to agree on a price that matched our budget and brought our sample yardage into the Brooklyn factory to do a sample T-shirt. Pro: we had this 'test' before we ran full production. Con:  I hated the fabric once I felt it in  t-shirt form.

So... what next?

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Rather than going back to the drawing board and buying more sample fabric, I decided to buy wholesale T-shirts  from Groceries Apparel, a company I already knew and loved. Groceries Apparel will remove their tags and add yours, and the best part about them is the fact they  are extremely transparent about their production process. They have lovely white tees that would rival any of your faves, they’re made with organic cotton and they’re manufactured at their factory in Los Angeles. A perfect match for the ODM/ODC perfect white tee!

We were also able to find a water-based ink printing company locally in Brooklyn along with sustainable fabric for our labels, sourced in Canada.

Sustainable is sexy...

The next phase in completing our perfect white tee was deciding on a design that would both promote the ODM/ODC brand and work as the perfect white tee you could wear with anything. We also wanted it to include a message people would be  proud to wear and support.

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Rather than using  our logo, as we've done in the past with water bottles and reusable straws, we decided to use the slogan "sustainable is sexy.” To us, this takes the "un-cool" out of sustainable clothing and is a catchy slogan that people would be excited to wear. With  our #sustainableissexy campaign, we’re hoping to take the edge off the eco-friendly discussion and  prove to our customers you can dress stylishly, sexily and simply, all with sustainability at heart.
 

With our t-shirts, you don't have to worry whether or not they were made ethically. You don't have to worry if they were made with sustainable materials. We will always be transparent about our practices and how we strive to better our planet. Along with that, we’ll tell you what roadblocks we face along the way and share how  we are constantly learning to be more sustainable and ethical without, of course, compromising on style.

 

Join our movement. Get the perfect white tee that will go with everything, will never go out of style, and is made with integrity, the ODM/ODC way!

#sustainableissexy

*Article edited by Julia Brucculieri of Untangledstories 

Sexual Harassment; What It Is and How to Stop It

Enough is enough...

The Harvey Weinstein allegations were the sparks that lit the roaring fire. Now, months after the first allegation, many more sexual harassment cases have come to light. I thought I’d share my input as a model in the fashion industry.  Just like Hollywood, the sexual abuse prevalent in modeling is astounding and has been ignored for far too long. [1]

To start, it isn’t to be ignored that abuse of all natures is prevalent in many industries, not just film or fashion which have been highlighted in the past few months. I’ll be touching base on my opinions of abuse in modeling but am by no means saying it is the only industry where this happens. 

So what is sexual harassment? [2]

This list is what sexual harassment in a work environment involves. It includes many things... 

Actual or attempted rape or sexual assault.
Unwanted pressure for sexual favors.
Unwanted deliberate touching, leaning over, cornering, or pinching.
Unwanted sexual looks or gestures.
Unwanted letters, telephone calls, or materials of a sexual nature.
Unwanted pressure for dates.
Unwanted sexual teasing, jokes, remarks, or questions.
Referring to an adult as a girl, hunk, doll, babe, or honey.
Whistling at someone.
Cat calls.
Sexual comments.
Turning work discussions to sexual topics.
Sexual innuendos or stories.
Asking about sexual fantasies, preferences, or history.
Personal questions about social or sexual life.
Sexual comments about a person's clothing, anatomy, or looks.
Kissing sounds, howling, and smacking lips.
Telling lies or spreading rumors about a person's personal sex life.
Neck massage.
Touching an employee's clothing, hair, or body.
Giving personal gifts.
Hanging around a person.
Hugging, kissing, patting, or stroking.
Touching or rubbing oneself sexually around another person.
Standing close or brushing up against a person.
Looking a person up and down (elevator eyes).
Staring at someone.
Sexually suggestive signals.
Facial expressions, winking, throwing kisses, or licking lips.
Making sexual gestures with hands or through body movements. 

VERBAL

Referring to an adult as a girl, hunk, doll, babe, or honey
Whistling at someone, cat calls
Making sexual comments about a person's body
Making sexual comments or innuendos
Turning work discussions to sexual topics
Telling sexual jokes or stories
Asking about sexual fantasies, preferences, or history
Asking personal questions about social or sexual life
Making kissing sounds, howling, and smacking lips
Making sexual comments about a person's clothing, anatomy, or looks
Repeatedly asking out a person who is not interested
Telling lies or spreading rumors about a person's personal sex life

NON-VERBAL

Looking a person up and down (Elevator eyes)
Staring at someone
Blocking a person's path
Following the person
Giving personal gifts
Displaying sexually suggestive visuals
Making sexual gestures with hands or through body movements
Making facial expressions such as winking, throwing kisses, or licking lips
 

PHYSICAL 

Giving a massage around the neck or shoulders
Touching the person's clothing, hair, or body
Hugging, kissing, patting, or stroking
Touching or rubbing oneself sexually around another person
Standing close or brushing up against another person

Reading through this list, I think it’s safe to say that many of us have experienced sexual harassment of some sort. 

Mid October of this year, model and activist Cameron Russell took it upon herself to share on Instagram not one or two but over 70 stories, anonymously sent to her by models both male and female of their experience of sexual abuse in the industry. [3]

From the submitted posts on Cameron’s Instagram page, I read through stories of rape, stories of unsolicited sexual acts, models who were forced to do things they did not want to do. [4] Models who were frozen in gut-wrenching situations where they were unable to move, unable to act, unable to react or stand up for themselves. It’s so much easier to say get up and stand up for yourself but when you’re in an industry that glorifies sexuality, sometimes as young as 15, 16 years old, what’s considered “normal” is often skewed. You have to live your life in a new lens that is confusing. There are photographers, stylists, agents, casting directors who have an unsurmountable control over a model’s career and oftentimes we are left silent, unable to speak because we need work, we need to pay the bills, and we’ve gotten lost along the way by trying to make it. 

 “…He put his fingers deep down in my v few times as he was shooting pics of me, saying this will make pics look more sensual. To a 15 yo….”

“…Making me feel like I was the one who had done something wrong by not wanting to sleep with him…”

“… He looked me in the eye and asked me after 5 minutes of meeting me if I would suck his dick…”

“…After about 2 minutes in front of the camera he told me I needed to “let loose” and “be more sexy” and he kept telling me to touch myself…”

“…Telling me to come in the bathroom to take photos of us while he masturbated…”

When I read through some of these stories, my heart broke to even be in an industry where sexual harassment happens so frequently. I thought, thank god I haven’t been in a situation like this. But as I really thought back to when I first started modeling, the blocked memories began to surface and I realized that a lot of what I had dismissed was in fact sexual harassment. From having to change in front of multiple people on set, changing backstage as photographers snapped away, having stylists touch every inch of my body (oftentimes exclaiming “don’t worry I’m gay”, which never made them shoving their hands down my crotch to tuck in my shirt feel any better…) shooting topless which I told myself I would never do but now “depends on the situation”, texting and phone calls from photographers, dealing with unwanted flirting, tolerating creepy photographers because they’re “big” and have the power to “make my career” … The list goes on and on. And I’ve normalized all these actions and have forgotten about a lot of them because this abuse often seems like a caveat to being a model. We just have to “deal with it” or are told it comes with the job. 

Enough is enough. Agent’s need to stop sending models to photographer’s houses/castings when they know they have a bad track record. Look out for us! We are entering a mature industry, oftentimes at such a young age away from our families. You are our family! Treat us as you would your own kids. Would you send your kids to someone who you’ve heard has done bad things? It shouldn’t even be a question. Not everyone is lucky like me to be with an agency that consistently values their models health and well-being. This should be an industry-wide standard that we don’t have to ask for. 

Magazines need to stop hiring these perpetrators and take note of those like Condé Nast International, who are finally stepping up to do the right thing. (Recently, the publishing house finally cut ties with longtime perpetrator Terry Richardson). [5]

Advertisers, stop hiring these people. There are far too many stories circulating. You know who they are. Step up and say no! There is no lack of talent. Find someone else to shoot it. Find someone else to style it. Find someone else to do the hair and/or make-up. 

In the wake of these scandals, many people have been sharing their sexual harassment experiences using the hashtag #MeToo. Years ago, Tarana Burke, founder of Just Be Inc, an organization that promotes the wellness of young female minorities shared her experience as a survivor of sexual violence. She used the hashtag #MeToo to shed light on the fact that no one is ever alone and use it as a way to heal together. When talking about the issue, Burke exclaims “We are experiencing a moment of mass disclosure, which can be very triggering for folks. There are a lot of people who are turned off by this movement — and I get it. There’s not a clear message or outcome. It’s not like people are saying, “Yes, me too” and then getting a list of steps to follow to heal and make change on this issue. And that’s what I hope to provide for folks in the coming weeks and days. But in the meantime, be gentle with yourself, take your time, figure out what you need, don’t be afraid to ask for what you need, don’t let anyone shame you into feeling like what you need is dumb and don’t let anyone diminish your experience." [6]

While some have publically stepped out by using such hashtags, many have not and are oftentimes questioned for it. What people need to understand is for some, the there is a necessity (short-lived or long-term) of remaining anonymous and hiding these abuser’s names. There is legality at play and the safety and reputation of those who decide to submit their stories. Deciding to step out and share their stories is one of the most heroic things someone can do. With jobs, reputations and safety at play it is in the media’s best interest to respect the privacy of these victims until the right lawyers and investigative journalists are hired to expose the abusers. Reopening old wounds or revisiting new ones are hard now, are hard then and should not be looked upon lightly. Let those who have been abused heal in whatever manor they wish to and refrain from questioning any of their motives. 

This is only the start and meaningful change will happen. Step up, stand up, and be a part of this movement. Help those who don’t have a voice. Help those who have been hurt. Educate young ones on the meaning of consent. Invite men to our conversations. Collectively, we have the power to fight sexual harassment. And it needs to happen now more than ever.