TOMMY DOES SUSTAINABLE

I recently got to work with Tommy Hilfiger on their latest campaign for sustainable fashion.

The jacket I got to model is padded with 100% recycled down and the outside is made of 50% recycled polyester. I love when companies, especially bigger companies like Tommy Hilfiger, realize the positive impact they will have if they push for more sustainable solutions. They have a HUGE audience of people eager to listen, so to have that much of a reach to spread something I’m so passionate about meant the world to me, and is exactly why I model. To have a platform like I do is such a privilege and to be able to partner up with likeminded companies, that sometimes have an even larger reach, means we get to spread information on climate change to that many more people and makes me SO PROUD and thankful that there are companies out there willing to adjust their business practices for the better when it comes to sustainability. This is only the first step, but it’s a huge one and will without a doubt create a ripple effect with other companies similar to Tommy Hilfiger. Soon enough, those who aren’t mindful of their environmental impact will be OFF TREND. And the sustainable trend is here to stay!

Racial Inclusion in the Fashion Industry

In the fashion industry I’ve been privileged because of the color of my skin. From the number of opportunities that I get to the ease of being able to walk onto set without hearing any comments or concerns about the texture of my hair or a makeup artist not having foundations to match my skin tone. My physical attributes have given me an enormous advantage. But in the last year the tide has started to change. The industry is starting to embrace diversity, and as a white model, although I’m shocked it has taken this long for the conversations to be held, and I think we still have a long way to go, I am truly thankful our industry is shifting. 


Growing up in Toronto I was exposed to different cultures at a very young age. In my elementary school, there weren’t any cliques because of what race you were. I learned about inclusion and saw it firsthand. A lot of my friends had interracial parents. There wasn’t even a conversation about it because it was so normal. So to then be a part of an industry that seemed so backwards, it really bothered me. I want to be a part of a workplace environment that I respected and believed in. And there have been a lot of things I’ve disagreed with thus far. 

Only within the past few years, as Instagram grew in popularity, models were able to share much more about themselves beyond their looks. We were able to share our stories, the good and the bad. My story enabled me to show the world Britt as a whole package and to me, being booked because a client liked my personality, my story, or was interested in my passion projects beyond modeling, always felt so much more special to me than being booked for the way I looked. 

There were also people’s stories of struggle, people’s stories of type cast, people’s stories of the biggest elephant in the room of the discrimination they were facing as minority individuals trying to make it as a Black, Asian, trans, plus size, you name it model*. Through social media platforms, the obvious racial inequality, especially evident on the runway, magazine covers and editorials because of their visibility, became apparent to all and thus was hard to ignore any further. Brands were getting called out for not being inclusive and diverse and the discussions began to flow.

In fashion, whether for good or bad, oftentimes if there’s some sort of issue (sustainability, inclusion of size, inclusion of race…) the solution may become a trend. People try to “fix” it because it seems like it’s the “thing to do”. What’s missing in that sentence is that companies should be doing it because it’s the right thing to do.  

So, when people started speaking out about the lack of diversity in fashion and especially on the runways, a few shows thought their solution would be to use one Black or Asian model. [1] One doesn’t mean inclusion. In and outside of the shows, there were issues of cultural appropriation and a profound sense of insensitivity. [2] We weren’t there yet. People thought we were there, but we were far from representing equally. **

The Fashion Spot is an online magazine that began tracking the diversity on runways and reporting its finding to its readers. Only recently, we found articles reporting that Spring 2019 (September of 2018) was one of the most diverse runways that we’ve ever seen. Out of 229 shows that were analyzed, 36.1% of all shows included models of color, a 3.6% increase from Fall’s 2018 report. In Spring 2017, only 17% of runway models were nonwhite. [3] In New York specifically we’ve seen the most improvement with nearly half, 44.8% of cast models being nonwhite (which should be noted, may have skewed other fashion capital’s results). Fall 2019 took a 2.7-point jump with 38.8% of model appearances representing models of color. [4]

Of course this looks like we’re changing for the better, and perhaps we’re getting there but even still, “looking” like we’re on the right track isn’t fixing the issue at heart. Now that models on the runway are being more represented (I say more, not fully), there’s room for more inclusion inside the entire industry. From designers to casting directors, art directors, creative directors and beyond, we need more representation and support of all races and only then, can we see a drastic change in fashion. We need it from all angles and we need to continue to educate ourselves. How can we change if we continue to support those who are unwilling to change? How can we change if we’re stuck in our ignorant patterns? Don’t dismiss the issues. Look into upcoming designers from different backgrounds who are trying to make it on their own dime with little to no connections to help them. Support them. Appreciate them for their talent and what they are offering and appreciate their fight that was undoubtedly harder than anyone else who made it through their privileges or connections. 

In fashion and beyond, we need to diversify and support those who have been marginalized. I love this article that brings up the issue at hand but goes on to offer a solution to the problem. (Click here to read more). We can’t keep going through cycles of outrage and outcry for it to then be forgotten and happen time and time again. Who knows if this current outpouring of support for nonwhite models is merely a temporary trend or a long term solution? For instance, we may ask ourselves: “How did we let runways and fashion in general be so white?” But are we really surprised this keeps happening? This will continue to occur in a predictable and regular manner only because fashion has created an industry that chooses to not see color.” [5] Clearly, in and beyond the runway, the lack of diversity in fashion leads to situations of inequality to occur. More people of color must be in positions of power in the fashion industry as a whole so that we can all equally have a voice, work together, learn from each other a grow together. [6]

Here’s a list of some of my favorite designers, models, art directors, photographers and creative directors in the fashion community, all who have made a name for themselves in fashion, however perhaps much easier said than done. Let’s celebrate them for their grit, their skill and their approval of inclusion. Listen to how they got to where they’re at, empathize with their background and read about their stories of perseverance and strength. 

• Maxwell Osborne and Dao-Yi Chow

• Telfar Clemens

• Kerby Jean-Raymond

• Tracy Reese

• LaQuan Smith

• Lyfestyle

• Hannah Stoudemire

• Campbell Addy

• Dana Scruggs

• Tyler Mitchell

• Edward Enninful

• Elaine Welteroth

• Shiona Turini

• Anok Yai

• Estelle Chen

So, what sparked this article? Frustration comes to mind. We’re still nowhere near where we need to be in terms of inclusion, and I pray this is a trend that continues to grow and will LAST. I’m so thankful the industry is getting better at inclusion. The conversation is there. It’s about time for fashion to represent all and to ensure we’re representing equally. For that means as a collective, hopefully we are steering away from workplace ignorance. Because ignorance in this case, is anything but bliss. 

* [All discriminations are separate issues that all need to be addressed but definitely not clumped together. I will focus on race for this article.]

 **[ Diversity is the “measure of difference” in a workplace. Inclusion, on the other hand, describes a climate where people of all types feel comfortable expressing themselves, creating a scenario where everyone is able to contribute their best work.] [7]


This Is The Swim You'll Want To Be Wearing All Summer

I came across Vitamin A swim when I was browsing for the perfect non-fussy bikini that was simple, stylish, but most importantly, sustainable. I kept hearing about Vitamin A, a company that similarly believes sustainability can be sexy. They too, felt strongly that bathing suits should be effortless and that they shouldn’t harm the environment. It seems crazy to wear a bathing suit in the ocean that would add to the destruction of it, so Vitamin A ensures the suits they create leave a positive impact on this Earth. They’ve become a favorite swimwear brand of mine that openly share their sustainable practices with all of their customers and followers, not to mention the swimsuits fit beautifully. I had the pleasure of chatting with Enya, a member of the Vitamin A tribe, on all the ins and outs of this company so you too can see what goes into making this sexy, sustainable swimwear! Enjoy!

1. How do you think you tapped into markets beyond the sustainable world? How do you maintain the “cool” factor while being eco-friendly?  

We believe that sustainability and style really go hand in hand! Our eco-conscious production practices are part of what make Vitamin A sexy and cool. This is the essence of the Vitamin A brand, and something that doesn’t change for us. 

 We were one of the first brands nearly 20 years ago, to come up with a new concept of sexy and bring about a new direction for color palettes. Prior to Vitamin A, we were only seeing bright colors - fuchsia, purple, turquoise, jade, and black - in the swim industry. Neutral palettes didn’t exist yet, so Vitamin A was one of the first to really introduce a softer and more simple aesthetic.  So later, when we integrated the sustainability aspect into Vitamin A, it was another platform, but the aesthetic was already there - it became another point of association for our customers and others in the swim industry! 

2. What criteria does the company have for choosing factories to work with?

All Vitamin A bikinis and bodysuits are produced locally in California, which dramatically reduces our emissions for transporting and delivering raw materials! And by keeping the vast majority of our work local, we’re able to closely monitor any of the processes we can’t do ourselves to ensure our sustainable standards are being met. We're able to take the time to get to know the people who make our goods, and we’re proud knowing that our manufacturing team maintains a high standard of ethics and environmental responsibility.

For some of our products that cannot be made here in California, we partner globally with fair trade artisans to produce our materials ethically, meaning Vitamin A production outside of the US is providing women with fair-wage jobs in safe working conditions! We also visit their factories and remain in constant contact with our partners to ensure that they are meeting our same high standards.

3. What can we do as consumers to prolong the life of our swimwear and is Vitamin A working on a way to close the loop on waste after use?

Our first fabric was actually created out of industry waste! Vitamin A’s EcoLux fabrication was the first in our industry and the model for all of our sustainable fabrics. So we‘re constantly working to close the loop on waste – this means keeping that waste out of landfills and recycling it within the industry, innovating with plant-based fabrics, and also looking for ways to recycle worn garments (we’re not quite there yet, but trust us, we’re working on it!).

Prolonging swimwear:

Wear More, Wash Less
When cared for properly, Vitamin A swimwear will last for years. We recommend a gentle, low-impact approach. Unfortunately, when you wash anything made from synthetics (even if its recycled) it sheds microfibers that can be pollutants if they wind up in the ocean. Here are some environmentally-conscious tips on how to care for your swimwear:

Swim Cycle
Rinse in cold water to shed fewer microfibers. We love hand washing with Bikinis Over Everything, an eco-friendly bikini cleanser. 

Use an all-natural biodegradable soap, such as Dr. Bronners, to spot-clean only necessary areas (it’s much better for your bikini and the environment than chemical-packed detergents or bleach).

Slip your bikini into an eco-friendly bag (like GUPPYFRIEND) designed to keep any loose microfibers from entering the water in your washing machine. It keeps our ocean water clean and will help your suit receive more delicate care.

Make sure to cold rinse your swimsuit after each wear, even if you don’t go in the water.

Stay Dry
Skip the dryer (and the green house gas emissions) and hang dry your bikinis. Avoid direct sunlight and lay your suits flat in a cool, dry place for a drying method that requires zero energy. 

Take Turns
We know you have a favorite bikini, but the key to making it last longer is to wait until it’s completely dry to wear it again. If you’re planning to spend a few days in a row dressed in a bikini (lucky!) plan on bringing a couple different suits to wear.

4. In your opinion, what is the most unsustainable part of the fashion industry? What is Vitamin A doing to combat this? What about ethically?

The least sustainable part of the fashion industry is the pure fact that it’s based on petroleum products, which are materials derived from fossil fuels. At Vitamin A, we’re working on utilizing plant-based swim fibers to create our designs, while also shifting all of our beachwear to biodegradable products, recycled cotton, organic cotton, tinsel, linen, and silks.

5. 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?

Consumers should look out for certain environmental endorsements, partnerships, or support of certifiable organizations that will indicate if any certain company is dedicated to eco-causes. For example, Vitamin A is a member of 1% - meaning we pledge to donate one percent of our annual sales to environmental non-profits. 

 We should also be sure to read our labels! Keep an eye out for where products are being made and what kind of materials are being used. Swimwear that’s made domestically will have less of a carbon footprint.

6. What are the next steps for Vitamin A?  How do you see yourselves evolving in the next five to ten years?    

We recently launched our newest BioRib fabric this season, which is made from organic plant-based fibers – meaning there’s zero impact on the food chain, 20% less CO2 emissions, and lower water consumption! We’re currently working on expanding on this concept with more biodegradable fabrics and continuing to innovate with new sustainable options. We’re also excited to be launching exclusive product collaborations with some of favorite retailers with the concept of “sustainability is sexy", to further share our mission with other brands in the industry! 

Also On Amour Vert...

On my recent shoot with Amour Vert, I got to talk all things sustainable, why we started ODM/ODC along with my involvement in the Model Mafia crew. Here are some of the talking points we discussed…I’m so thankful a company was willing to sit down and talk about these things with me. Slowly but surely, companies care about the model as a whole, more than just their looks. It’s beautiful to be able to share our passions and beliefs, especially on touchy subjects like the environment and sustainability. Join the conversation by leaving your comments below!

Getting To Know Amour Vert, The Company All About Green Love

As a model, I get to work with so many different types of companies. That’s what I love about my job, I’m a chameleon and I get to change for every brand to represent their image the best I can. From dream wedding dress companies to haute couture and Ready to Wear, it’s beautiful to see behind the scenes and what often goes into making the clothes and the images to sell them. On the flip side, this is what opened my eyes to the sometimes wasteful nature of our industry. A lot of the times, I can feel firsthand the difference between a product that was made with love and one that was made to disintegrate to potentially fuel the overconsumption nature of our economy. I am however a firm believer in working with those who we wish to inspire. It’s not about working against the companies that “aren’t doing it right” but by inspiring them to change and be better! And sometimes, I’m lucky enough to work with companies that I TRULY believe in, like Amour Vert. It was an absolute dream to shoot with a company that is so in alignment with ODM/ODC and our values. Scroll down for my interview with Emory Cooley from Amour Vert and see for yourself why the Model Activist group is obsessed with this company!

1. Tell me a bit about how you got connected with Amour Vert. What’s it like working for them? 

I studied Fashion and Textile Management in school and took a course on sustainability. After taking the course, I was shocked at the corruption within the industry. Upon graduation, I knew I wanted to work for a brand with a larger vision at hand, and I found Amour Vert. I moved from North Carolina almost 2 years ago to join Amour Vert in their quest to change fashion. 

It’s been an amazing experience working at Amour Vert. My co-workers have become close friends and the office has amazing energy. Teams collaborate frequently and ideas are shared and formed throughout the office and between teams. We have a company-wide meeting every Monday and every Friday there is a family-style lunch. When you work for Amour Vert, you’re a part of a family. 

2. What are some of the core values to Amour Vert and how does the company ensure they’re sticking to them?

Our core values are to be sustainable in everything we do. From the factory to the fibers, we are sustainable. We stick to this by having transparency and close relationships with our mills and factories. 

3. I love the fact that the company partners with artists on limited-edition prints. I especially love the print you just did with Buckley for Women’s Day! Tell me a bit about this process and some of the collaborations the company has done in the past and what you have coming up in the future.

We work with value-aligned women to develop prints. The collaborative process is between our design team and the artist. The prints are developed based on the season, designs and story we have planned for the collection they are designing into. 

We have had so many collaborations it’s difficult to speak to all of them, but most recently in March, we partnered with Kate Miller from Elworth Studio. She developed our Mojave Floral print which we love! We will definitely continue this program in the future, while also developing in-house prints. 

4. Tell me a bit about the fabrics Amour Vert uses. They’re so incredibly soft it’s hard to believe they’re sustainable!

We partner to use fiber blends to create new exclusive fabrics that are fashionable, durable and of course, sustainable. We are excited for our exclusive Tencel and Modal blends for the spring season. Tencel comes from eucalyptus trees and Modal comes from beechwood trees and both are created in a closed loop process using sustainable yarns and are biodegradable. We have brand new fabrics from each of these fibers to look forward to this spring.

5. I love the fact that 97% of the clothing is made near the San Francisco office. What’s the importance on producing locally and what are some of the advantages of being so close to the factories? 

Producing locally allows in-person conversations, which we believe are crucial and allow for creative minds to collaborate together. It also allows us the opportunity to touch, feel and see the softness and drape of the fabrics.

6. I also love that you showcase the women in your community who live and breathe the Amour Vert ethos. Tell me about some of these women and why you’ve chosen to highlight them in some of your campaigns

In January we launched the “It’s Not About Us” campaign, it’s a campaign that has no end date and will continuously highlight women who live the ethos of Amour Vert. We believe models are more than a pretty face, and we want to give them a platform to tell their story. 

7. What are the criteria for choosing like-minded companies like Agolde denim, Vitamin A swim, Veja shoes, etc. to sell on the site?

We partner with companies that share the same sustainable and ethical standards. That means these companies are aligned in their values. We work hard so that our customer can shop online and be effortlessly sustainable. 

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

There are so many aspects of the fashion industry that are unsustainable, but something that we like to focus on shifting is fabric production. We work with only 100% Certified Organic Cotton (only 1% of the world’s cotton is grown organically), and natural fibers that are produced in a closed loop process, such as our signature Modal, and Tencel. 

These fabrics are not only better for the environment and the farmers, but also for every person working with them along the supply chain, and eventually the customer who purchases and wears the piece. In terms of ethics, we ensure that the factories that we work with respect to their workers by providing safe and clean work environments, a living wage, reasonable hours and breaks. This shouldn’t be unique in the fashion industry, but sadly it is. 

9. 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?

We would encourage consumers to ask for transparency. Ask if the factories are sustainable, understand the fiber content. Customers should educate themselves so they can ask companies the harder questions that often times no one is asking. 

10. What are the next steps for Amour Vert? How do you see yourselves evolving in the next five to ten years?

To continue to grow, open stores and spread awareness about the importance of sustainable fashion, etc. 

The Butterfly Effect

Some days I am more mindful than others.

Just remembering to bring my reusable shopping bags into the store from my car is a small victory. It's not a big deal but it's one less plastic bag that I use.  Each day that we make one mindful decision creates a ripple effect. Yesterday I made some choices. My family loves seltzer water. We go through cases of seltzer at a time.  I recycle the cans but yesterday I thought, I can do better.  I decided to invest in a Soda Stream.  We use it every day and have cut back dramatically on our recycled cans. I also switched from my single use coffee pods to a french press.  I didn't eliminate my pods entirely - as I love a quick shot of espresso - but I am reducing my usage and recycling the old pods.  I was surprised and pleased when I dropped off my bag of used pods at the UPS store, and the clerk said they get several dropped off everyday. People are waking up to the power of mindful decisions. It's such a hopeful sign for the future. 

If you're of a certain vintage, like me, you may have grown up learning about the 3 R's; reduce, reuse and recycle. Recently, this has been updated to the 5 R's; refuse, reduce, reuse, repurpose and recycle.  The extra R's, refuse and repurpose have been recently added. Refuse to buy things that jeopardize the long-term health of the planet. Vote with your wallet, in other words.  "Stop sucking" was a recent campaign to eliminate plastic straws. Eliminate the demand and the product will stop being produced, simple laws of economics. Repurpose allows us to take what has already been made and find different uses.  But repurpose is lower down in the order of priority because we want to stop products from being produced that we do not need and are damaging to the environment.

Recently the EU Parliament approved a ban on single use plastic.  Plastics make up over 80% of marine litter.  On a recent trip to Zanzibar we were staying near the beach and decided to take a walk. I grabbed a bag to pick up some of the litter along the way.  Within a few minutes we had so much trash we had to go back for more bags.  Zanzibar is on the east coast of Africa and much of the garbage floats across the ocean and lands on its shores. While it may seems thousands of miles away, the trash that floats to its beaches will eventually find its ways to our shores. 

This article is meant to be more about mindfulness than recycling. Every decision we make has an impact.  When we are mindful of our decisions, how they affect not only ourselves, but the rest of the world, we become aware of the power we have. There is a mathematical theory called the Butterfly effect that states that small, localized changes in a complex system can have large effects elsewhere. Next time you go for a walk, grab a bag, pick up some trash and think about the fact that you are metaphorically flapping your Butterfly wings and creating ripples around the world. 

-Maria Bromley, Mom Of Model

 
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Who Run The World, GIRLS!

Being in an industry, one of the few where women are more successful than men feels damn good! From designers to models, stylists hair and makeup artists, women rule the fashion industry and are making leaps and bounds above their male counterparts. While I by no means wish any ill-will to the opposite sex, I’m a feminist who loves men and believes in balance on all fronts and I thought it would be fun to share some of my favorite women-run businesses in the sustainable and ethical world. Because although we’re killing it, it still helps to support and lift each other up and share the successes of our Girl-boss tribe, a success so recent it needs to be celebrated, on women’s day especially and everyday for that matter!

Enjoy…

Land Of Women

Founded by McKenzie Raley and Sarah Belz

The Simply Co.

Founded by Lauren Singer

Par En Par

Founded by Laura Choi

Doen

Founded by Margaret and Katherine Kleveland

Seek Collective

Founded by Carol Miltimore

Truss

Founded by Elise Durbecq and Gillian Tozer

ADAY

Founded by Nina Faulhaber and Meg He

Brother Vellies

Founded by Aurora James

Raven + Lily

Founded by Kirsten Dickerson

Tulerie

Founded by Merri Smith and Violet Gross

Liana

Founded by Lili Chemla

Matteau Swim

Founded by Ilona Hamer and Peta Heinsen

AYR

Co-Founded by Maggie Winter

Tsunja

Founded by Jessica Jasmine

Cuyana

Founded by Karla Gallardo and Shilpa Shah

Our Third Calm Before the Storm!

Fashion week is an incredible time in our industry to show off your best looks, book your most exciting shows, head to the coolest parties and essentially skip all ideas of sleep. It’s what keeps our industry alive, fun an innovative but naturally with such pressure it’s hard to stay afloat. Collectively, my friend Dani and I have been modeling for over twenty years and believe us when we say we have first-hand experience of how difficult this time of the year can be, especially as a new model. That’s why we created our pre-fashion week event; Calm Before the Storm.


We want to create a community of models to lean on when the going gets tough so you can have a friend to wait at a casting with or to relax over a bottle of wine post shows. For us, what gets us through this industry and has enabled us to continue to model is how we’ve built each other up when we’re down and surrounded ourselves with likeminded girlbosses who inspire us to build side hustles and know how to brand our best selves. Because nowadays, it’s so much more than being a pretty face and we want to create a positive community, for the young new faces especially, to celebrate our friendships, accomplishments and to know we can stick together!

It’s been a beautiful evolution throughout the past year and was especially exciting to see even more new faces this time around. We’re so happy to have this event grow and it means a lot for us to have the support as well. In addition to our models, we love building up our community and showcasing our friends who are doing incredible side projects/hustles/jobs/foundations, you name it!! Our model hosts, Sinead Bovell from WAYE talks and Grace Mahary from Project Tsehigh opened up the evening with a beautiful talk on how they build their side hustles, how they found balance between that and modeling and how incredibly important it is to be active in your community and with your friends. Because as Grace mentioned, when you’re on your death bed you won’t remember what you made for this job or that show but you’ll remember all the incredible faces you met and experiences you created together. Amen!

Afterwards, our attendees got to check out the “vendors” (our amazing girlboss/guybosses who have super cool companies they run or work for). We love profiling them and showing off what they’re up to, from health coaches to trainers and eco-friendly laundromat enthusiasts. The idea is that we try to relate it to fashion week with healthy recipes for castings, best workouts for small hotel rooms or what to do if your flight gets delayed.

We also had AMAZING gift bags this year from the most amount of sponsors to date…Without this community, we wouldn't have been able to throw together such a fun night! Check out the sponsors and vendors below and scroll down for all our pictures.


Sponsors:

Sustainability was a big topic at our event today. Check out one of our favorite clothing brand’s Aday! From materials used to new-tech innovations that eliminate textile waste, this company is ahead of the curve in terms of sustainability and is a company Dani and I are both proud to say we have shot with! Tag your ADAY pics with @thisisaday, #thisisaday and enjoy $20 off your next order with their coupon.

Those beautiful oils and face masques you received are from Amberlight Beauty, a company started by Dominyka Gajauskaite. Dominyka ensures the best materials go into all of her products from rose to open your heart to chamomile for calming your senses. Find out more at @amberlightbeauty.

Our very own model mafia member Anastasija Titko gave us pamphlets on an organization that’s near and dear to her heart, The Isha Institute of Inner-Sciences. The foundation offers yoga and meditation programs and are always happy to host new members. A nice way to keep calm before fashion week. Check them out!

Those awesome flower pouches with the mineral eye shadows were given to us by Boho Chic Cosmetics. They are all about clean, fun beauty that is made in small batches, vegan and cruelty-free!

The CUTEST toothbrush packages were provided to you all from BOKA. They’re a mindful oral care company that stresses the importance of working with our bodies, not against them. See all their fun pics and share yours @boka!

Did we not have the coolest hosts and event space?? We have Celsious to thank for that! This eco-friendly laundromat in Williamsburg gives you the low-down on how to wash your clothes in the ‘cleanest’ (pun intended) way, all whilst being better for the environment. They also have a café you can hang out at while you wait for your load to finish, and honestly even though Dani and I both have laundry in our buildings we’ve come for a hang out at this space because it is simply so cute and so well-done! Congrats to the founders Theresa and Corinna on such a successful space!

EcoEnclose provides sustainable solutions for packaging and sent us all those beautiful recycled paper bags for your goodie bags! (Britt uses them for all her ODM/ODC shipping!) and they’re incredibly easy to work with. Check out their Instagram @ecoenclose.

For Days provided us with those awesome pouches with gift cards inside to use for their zero-waste shop that closes the loop on fashion waste. Pick a tee, wear it endlessly, return when done and you’ll receive a fresh new tee while they recycle and reuse your old one! Fashion waste problem solved!

You know that face spa Dani and I are always posting from?? That’s Glo Spa and they graciously donated us coupons for 20% off your next facial! They’re located in the financial district. Enjoy;)

Our favorite kombucha drinks were provided by Health Ade! We’re absolutely addicted! If you are too, check out more information or share your pics @healthade.

Herbivore Botanicals provided us with one of our favorite face products, their popular rose hibiscus hydrating face mist. Dani and I both love spraying our face with this product every morning to wake up and it’s the perfect thing to keep your skin hydrated on a long flight. Their products are made in U.S.A. and never tested on animals!

High Brew donated all those incredible cans of coffee that are protein-packed and will be perfect to sip on between all your crazy castings and shows. This should help keep your energy up!

INTO app helped us so much by promoting the event on their app. We were able to reach out to even more models which is what this event is all about, building our model community! For model-events and products to use that are often free or heavily discounted, check out their app which you can download here.

Jaw x Jawshop by Tim Jaw has always been one of our biggest supporters! His awesome line of locally made basics and fun socks and scrunchies, an ode to the 80s, are the perfect thing you need for brunch on the weekend with your crew. 

Joya Studio has given us awesome roll-on samples of their fragrances to keep you smelling fresh and clean during the fashion week season. Their ingredients are simple, locally-sourced and to top it off they have sustainable packaging which we’re such big fans of! They’re a personal favorite of mine to use while traveling!

Lighthouse BK is one of our absolute favorite restaurants in Brooklyn and gave us those awesome bites for us to eat at our event. They are on their way to being completely zero-waste and they don’t let that sacrifice on taste or presentation. They employ a number of organizations in their community from composting to cork recycling and the Billion Oyster Project where they donate all their used oyster shells each week.

Magic Mix Juicery offered us samples of their aloe shots. Super tasty, good for digestion, and anti-inflammatory! Have them on their own or pop them into a smoothie or glass of water. You can find those aloe shots and many more treats at their location in Financial District!

You got some awesome samples and drinks made at the event by Mr. Maks Ginbao Tea! I can personally attest to the fact that this alkalized beverage with ingredients like ginger, ginseng, honey and lemongrass are the perfect combination to thirst your quench and help calm your stomach if you have a little ache. Enjoy warm or cold. And no, there aren’t crazy amounts of added sugars to worry about. We’re huge fans!

Parcelle Wine is a curated wine shop and the first retail concept from Delicious Hospitality Group, the team behind NYC restaurants Charlie Bird, Pasquale Jones, and Legacy Records. Parcelle’s offerings reflect the best of the wine programs for which DHG’s restaurants are known. Hopefully their wine helped you relax as you headed into your fashion week shenanigans!

RYU is an incredible clothing line created for the urban athlete that moves with you. They stand for respect, and they are #BeautifulTough. Check them out @ryu_apparel and enjoy your new, sleek water bottles!

Seaweed Bath Co. provided us with awesome goodies form their detox cream and scrub to their fabulous serums. They’re one of our favorite skin/body/haircare products that are clean for the environment, nutrient-rich and performance-optimized. All seaweed in their products are sourced and certified organic from the coast of Maine!

The ladies of Shiffon Co. donated one special ring to the winner of our raffle (congrats Kaye-Li!!!). The founders are two badass entrepreneurial babes who balance finishing their degree at their Ivy league schools and managing this business. Michelle Obama, Christy Turlington and Serena Williams have been seen wearing their famous pinky promise rings that support women entrepreneurs with the sale of each ring.

Silk Philosophy gave us each a silk accessory to spice up each of our black on black fashion week uniforms. The silk accessories sell primarily as bracelets, but they could be worn as mini scarves/chokers, hair ribbons, or handbag charms. All silk bracelets are made of high quality silks in limited quantities and the patterns never repeat. 

Simply Suzette has graciously provided you all with a coupon for her site that sells eco-friendly and ethical jean brands. Denim is one of the dirtiest industries out there so this is her way of trying to help promote the companies doing it right! And I’m telling you they’re my personal favorite pair of jeans I own. And I don’t have to feel guilty about wearing them because I know they’re made with integrity and better for the environment than the traditional jean.

We got the perfect fashion week treat for your all from Snow Monkey! Now you can enjoy your fashion week cravings without the guilt attached. All Snow Monkey ice creams are plant-based, paleo, and high protein!

Tulerie gifted us with those awesome reusable straws!! Make sure and sign up for their clothes-sharing app, especially useful during your fashion week antics!! ;)

Here’s some takeaway info about the lovely vendors we had set up around the room.

Vendors:

Daniel Gottlieb was there to help us with all our sore, achy muscles. Dan is a brand ambassador for RYU and Hyperice, He has weekly workouts at Bandier's Studio B that are great for relaxing your muscles and stretching you out! We all need more of that! Check out his Instagram to learn more and DM his for more info on his classes!

Dawn Gallagher  was there to share her story about using your voice in this industry and how powerful it is to share your story. What an incredible example for all of us! She’s been there, she’s done that and she’s here to pave the way for us as change makers in this industry! She also is passionate about Drawdown, an event that is all about sustainable green living and teaching us all we need to know about drawing down carbon in our atmosphere, something incredibly important as we head into fashion week, often with a lot of travel and flying.

Dominyka Gajauskaite 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. Stay in the know about all her products @amberlightbeauty! In addition to all her incredible samples that she gives us for each and every event, Dominyka was especially helpful in organizing this event for us. From new sponsorships to organization in general, Dominyka was a HUGE help for this event and we’re especially helpful for all she has done for us.

Grace Mahary was our top model speaker who couldn’t have given us better advice. Remember, it’s all about the experiences you make and the relationships you form, not about the superficial things in life! In addition to killing it as one of Canada’s top models, Grace started her very own foundation, Project Tsehigh which provides clean energy to impoverished communities around the world.

Our favorite relaxing facials were provided to you by Face Love! They made our event that much more special and have been collaborating with us on events for the past three years, something we’re so thankful for! Check them out in at their new flagship in the Flatiron. Dani and I will be there next week;)

Jonathan Glass from Mr. Maks was our awesome bartender for the night, creating mixed drinks using their Ginbao Teas. Healthy, low sugar, and super settling for the stomach with calming ingredients like ginger and lemon.

KW Travel  was our awesome travel agent who answered all your questions about flying, how to attain status, some awesome trip itinerary ideas for you and your girlfriends and so much more. I’m personally someone who loves to create my own itineraries but after seeing the attention to detail, I handed over all my honeymoon plans and will be working with Katherine for our upcoming trip to Italy.

You heard all about the Model Mafia from one of our members, Kaye-Li Taylor. It is our incredible social impact and activism focused group and together we take collective action and share causes we care about with each other. The group marched in the DC Climate March demanding a cleaner fashion industry and world, raised $12,000 for the Standing Rock community, and has been tackling sexual harassment in the fashion industry. If you would like are to join, please send an email and agency link to modelmafialistoversight@gmail.com and follow the tribe @modelactivist.

Shivani Persad and Samantha Bolger have their very own podcast, More Than Model Radio where they interview models about what they’re passionate about beyond modeling! If you want a chance to be interviewed, hit them up on Instagram! Listen HERE for previous episodes.

Sinead Bovell of WAYE was our incredible host this evening who interviewed Grace Mahary on how she’s balanced modeling with her side business, Project Tsehigh. For inspiration on how to create your own business and brand, check our Sinead’s side hustle, WAYE (weekly advice for the young entrepreneur) and make sure to come to one of her upcoming WAYE talks. I can’t say more than they’re on of the few events that I actually look forward to attending. She’s inspiring and a complete go-getter and will give you all the inside knowledge on tech, business and the future. Check her out!

Tulerie  was in attendance, one of the coolest new platforms of digital “shopping”. I without a doubt think this will be the way of the future; a concept that lets you lend and borrow from your friends without braking your bank or contributing to the fabric waste created by fast fashion and consumerism. And if you do want to shop, invest in that piece that will last you a lifetime and put it on the app so you can make some money off your purchase from your friends who want to borrow the piece as well! We’re all about a brand that works on closing the loop on waste.

Our event photos were taken by Ryan J. Ulsh. He’s been a dear friend to Dani and I and we’ve also collaborated a ton on test shoots together. I’ll often organize shoots with him and my agents have used A TON of our shots, many of them still in my book to this day. Follow his photography adventures on J. Ryan Ulsh or Jryanulsh.Studio

The Last Straw

2018 was a popular year for the little plastic straw. Something that seems so insignificant is popped into every single one of our drinks, whether we need it or not, without the slightest thought on its purpose or necessity. Think about it, if you ask for a glass of water, almost always it’s accompanied by a big plastic straw that we often discard before we even take our first sip. So what switched? There were viral videos of sea turtles with straws being stuck in their nostrils and people began to pay attention to the the little straw and began wondering how else straws were negatively harming our planet and what we could do.

The thing about the plastic straw is that it’s tangible. We all see its overabundant use in restaurants and bars, have used it to stir a drink for one second then tossed it to the side only the repeat the same procedure for our next drink and the drink after that, with one or two straws in each water we order in between. Why the sudden overuse of them? While they were originally created for making things a little easier to drink, in the 1930s they gained popularity when  an inventor wanted to make it easier for his daughter to drink a milkshake. From that, the straws are mass-produced by a system selling people things they don’t really need, for the most part. Consumers of course took advantage of it and now we’re left with another over-consumed product with of course, inevitable backlash. We can see the waste. On our beaches, straws are often one of the top ten items collected globally on the coastlines

It was once quoted that in the U.S. alone, 500 million straws are used EVERY DAY. That seems like an incredible amount that’s hard to picture exactly how many that truly is. Here are some figures to put it into perspective… “500 million straws could fill over 127 school buses each day, or more than 46,400 school buses every year.. 500 million straws per day is an average of 1.6 straws per person (in the US) per day. Based on this national average, each person in the US will use approximately 38,000 or more straws between the ages of 5 and 65.” While I’m not 100% that this stat is entirely accurate, it goes without saying that whatever the number is, it is high and there is something we can do about it. 

So what can we do? There are a ton of alternate options out there, here are my favorite options ranking from best to last:

  • No straw (no waste)

  • Bamboo straw (sturdy, dishwasher safe, light)

  • Metal straws (sturdy, dishwasher safe, easy to clean, not good for hot beverages)

  • Glass straws (sturdy, easy to clean, but breakable)

  • Paper straws (trendy and fun but don’t last and wasteful to produce)

    • Why the hate for paper? It’s similar to the debate between plastic and paper bags. 

    • A study done last year by Denmark’s Ministry of Environment and Food found that paper bags need to be reused at least 43 times for its per-use environmental impacts to be less than that of typical plastic bag used once. 

    • You choose between plastic, reusable and less energy to make but not biodegradable or paper, harder to reuse, a ton of energy to make but biodegradable…Truthfully, neither is “good”

There’s a few things to note when talking about banning the straws. For one, a large population of our world needs them. It’s easy for anyone who isn’t physically challenged to say “no straw”, 

“I don’t use those”, “who would need a plastic straw”, or to even look down upon people who order them. When I saw the video of the turtle, I knew I would try my best to say no when the opportunity presented itself, pretty much always, but I vowed to myself to never shame anyone who forgot to say “no straw”. Check out this article by Alden Wicker of EcoCult. She talks about the necessity to address the issue of plastic waste but to be flexible with the movement and open to people who actually need the straw. Banning something that certain people’s lives depend upon is ridiculous and we should by no means shame anyone. With my decisions I make about the sustainable movement, I hope to influence many people in my community to do whatever they can. We need to keep this in mind. 

I loved Alden’s idea about an opt-in system when talking about the straw ban movement. Instead of the waiters at restaurants automatically putting a straw in every single drink, they always need to have them on hand and you have to say when you order “I need a plastic straw”. That in itself will heavily cut down the amount wasted at each restaurant yet no one who actually needs one will (hopefully) not be looked down upon. 

While I support the movement to use less straws, some feel the movement to falls extremely short. Sure, plastic straws are overused and create a lot of waste but many argued that this movement failed to address something bigger that is creating much more waste than the straw.  The commercialized fishing net, and other plastic waste in general. Straws are an easy target because many people can do without them. I don’t question the necessity of the plastic straw movement, I think any movement is a step in the positive direction but my argument would be that it shouldn’t stop there. 

Have you ever seen a commercialized size fishing net in the middle of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch; the largest accumulation of ocean plastic? The patch is estimated to be 1.6 million square kilometers, twice the size of Texas and having 46% of the weight be taken up by fishing nets. Plastic tends to get stuck in these large gyres or patches and disintegrate with all the sun exposure and natural currents until it’s into tiny pieces, called micro plastics, that we oftentimes can’t even see. Years ago we would see occasional pieces of plastic found in sea turtles but now, with all the micro plastics forming and floating around, 100% of all sea turtles have some form of plastic they have ingested. 59% of all seabirds have plastic found in them and more than 25% of fish sampled from all around the world has plastic in it. That’s an issue that goes above and beyond the straw movement that we have to address. 

The plastic that litters our oceans are becoming much more of a problem. We can’t ignore it. Plastic debris, both micro plastics (particles less than 5mm) and macro plastics (larger than 5mm) are positively related to the mismanaged plastic waste generated by river catchments. To me, the straw movement was the catalyst for bigger change. While China for instance is the biggest producer of plastic waste, it also is now making huge efforts to avoid this. 

Other countries that are now coming into wealth like the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam, are huge contributors to the plastic waste issue. With the rise of GDP levels in many of these East Asian countries comes benefits that we often overlook like the convenience of to-go Tupperware or the ease of a plastic bag to carry your goods, better yet, drinkable water in plastic bottles! But what these places don’t think about is the infrastructure needed to deal with the waste that comes from development. If we are to address the need for waste-management infrastructure in these five countries alone, China, Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam, it is estimated we can significantly reduce global leakage of plastic waste into the ocean by 2025, potentially by 45%!

So where does that leave us? 

Well, theres a few things I have in mind for trying to make a change..

This article, again written by Alden Wicker of EcoCult talked about her challenge going plastic-free on her recent trip to India. There was balance achieved between being a good guest, accepting where plastic was sometimes needed but doing the best she could, remembering to bring a water bottle, utensils, avoiding straws where possible and the like. But we have to remember these developing economies are vastly different from the U.S. Oftentimes to a waiter in India, providing good service is of utmost importance to them. Figuring out what “no straw” means while trying to remember how to speak English and treat your guest well comes with a huge learning curve.

When we’re visiting these East Asian countries we have to be supportive of the new cycle of growth they’re going through and dealing with. Improving governance and rooting out corruption for example. What we can do is influence them and work with them to realize the importance of tackling change now. They are blessed because they haven’t gotten as used to the readily available use of plastic as much as the Western society has. When we travel, we can reduce our plastic intake and show them it’s possible to live life easily without it. We can stop shipping our waste to them and deal with it ourselves. We can show them certain technological advancements that are making it easier to recycle plastics and show how they can discard it. And we can influence them to stop producing plastic altogether and use another biodegradable alternative at the same time.

While most of the plastic waste is coming from East Asia, we can continue to do our best efforts at home. Things like the three R's; reduce, reuse, recycle...and remember they should be in that order. 

  • Reducing our purchases (being conscious consumers)

  • Reusing things whenever possible

  • Recycling after you attempt to reduce and reuse. 

  • Eating less fish (less fish, less need for fishing, less fishing nets. Supply, demand)

  • Avoid plastic bags

  • Saying no to straws when we can

  • Voting for change

  • Marching for change 

  • Reducing meat intake

  • Composting

  • Paying for carbon offsetting

  • Switch to reusables

    • Reusable bags, Tupperware, coffee mugs, water bottles, etc. 

While 2018 was the year of the plastic straw, let's make 2019 the year of tackling all plastic. We’re addicted to it and with fighting addiction comes arguments, fight back, disagreements and disbelief. But the facts are there. The fish have plastic in them. The turtles are eating plastic and our world will suffer from that. Humans live off the Earth and the oceans are the veins that pump life into us all. Let us tackle plastic waste, something we have so easily lived without before the 1930s, and switch to a reusable, biodegradable material that closes the loop on waste and refreshes our oceans with life and air. The Earth’s ten-year challenge brought upon devastation from pictures of deforestation, ice melting, and oceans and rivers littered with plastic waste. Let’s reverse that trend and make pictures in 2029 that we’re proud of.