Grandermarnier: sustainable fashion panellist
Last year I began volunteering for a fantastic organisation called the Women in Sustainability Network, run by Rhian Sherrington in Bristol. The aim of the organisation is to bring us women together to connect and support each other within the sustainability industry. I help with the digital communication tasks like conducting interviews, writing blog posts and creating e-newsletters. It’s been such a valuable experience for me to get to meet these women and learn more about the different avenues with sustainability that I could pursue, and the support from Rhian to develop my own career has been incredible.
I nearly bit her hand off when Rhian asked me to speak at a Bristol networking event based around ethical and sustainable fashion! These events happen at the different ‘hubs’ around the UK, including London, Manchester, Oxford and more, and I try and attend all the Bristol ones. I felt nervous about the idea of speaking in front of a room full of professional women with heaps of experience in this sector, but I knew that I had a point of view on this subject that no one else has and that was reason enough to stand up and tell my story.
The event itself, “How to ‘Do’ Ethical, Sustainable Fashion”, focussed around a panel discussion featuring four women with different jobs or backgrounds of the fashion industry. First to speak was Sarah Jupp from the Soil Association, who talked about the benefits of organic cotton and how to find brands that are stocking it. Next was a Bristol-based fashion entrepreneur, Amelia Twine, who launched Give Wear Love; a destination for sustainable, ethical, slow fashion. Then we heard from Becky Barnes, a stylist who works with clients to work out what clothes they really want, rather than just following trends. Becky also runs charity shop ‘tours’ around Bristol, showing you the best-kept secrets in thrifting!
When it was my time to speak, I focussed on just telling my story and how my journey with vegan fashion continues to teach me about compassion and making better choices with my wardrobe. It felt great to be able to connect to a room full of strangers, laughing together, stumbling over my words at times and feeling their interest in what I was saying. I talked about the impacts of animal-based materials on the environment and the social implications of the different processes involved. The audience was shocked when I revealed that the worst material, in terms of impact on the environment, is cows leather, and I think for many of them it may have been the first time they had made that connection between the raising livestock and the fashion industry.
I’m so grateful for this opportunity I’ve been given and I hope people who attended the event enjoyed the panel discussion and sharing ideas together. For me, it was one of the best nights of my vegan fashion career!