Behind the brand..CareFull
Stephanie von Meiss, co-founder of the environmental platform, The Klosters Forum and CEO of sustainable fashion brand CareFull talks about her journey into sustainability and the importance of making conscious living contagious.
What inspired you to launch your own sustainable fashion brand, CareFull?
The documentary film "The True Cost" by Livia Firth opened my eyes. It. I could not believe that I knew nothing about the serious effect the fashion industry is having on nature and society. After all, I had been working in the sustainability field for years since my Masters in sustainability and CSR in 2008. I’d been under the illusion that the so-called "big bad boys" were the cement industry, and oil and gas producers. A friend of mine, (who also watched The True Cost) and I started Fashion Unzipped, a platform which consisted of a series of panels and workshops bringing impact investors together with sustainable fashion experts to create awareness about the need for a radical transformation of the industry.
Along the way I started to wonder, why isn’t more sustainably produced clothing out there. Could it really be that difficult? So I decided to try for myself.
Your focus is making the best, most ethical and sustainable white shirts out there. How did you decide upon white shirts?
The initial question was: where can I find a no-fuzz, great fit, classic, crispy white shirt made with organic cotton? It turns out not only is it already very tricky to find a good conventional cotton shirt, but in organic cotton? Impossible! So there was the challenge, and I accepted it.
And a challenge it was. Does an organic woven fabric even exist that can compete with the chemically bleached, unnaturally white cotton everyone is used to? 1.5 years, 3 countries and over 200 suppliers later… it turns out it does.
And what about the cut? Women have wonderfully different shapes and heights - what do they all want? The only way to find out was to ask them. So, I gathered input from over 250 women, identified the key must-haves of a perfect white shirt and after 12 prototypes, I believe we finally got there.
I love white shirts because as Leonardo da Vinci said ‘simplicity is the ultimate sophistication’.
From sustainable consulting to creating 100% organic cotton shirts, it seems that a passion for the environment is at the heart of everything you do. When did you begin to take action against climate change?
I came across the concept of sustainable development back at university, which felt like another word for common sense. Since then I have been on the “sustainability journey” so to speak. What I have learned over the years is that the most powerful force we have, with which to create positive environmental impact, is our ability to work together.
That’s why I have also co-started The Klosters Forum, an environmental platform where we convene a small and impact focused community of environmental trailblazers and thought leaders to work together on one environmental challenge at a time. 2018/19 Plastic Pollution Solutions, 2020/21 Food Systems and Biodiversity Regeneration.
Can you give us 5 simple tips for living a more sustainable everyday life?
1) Learn more about the WHY before you do the HOW. Why do we actually need to live more sustainably? Once you better understand the Why, the How becomes a lot more natural.
2) Vote with your wallet – Be conscious with what you buy, where you bank, what you invest – all these decisions can create positive ripple effects.
3) Eat planet friendly – That doesn’t mean going vegan, but it does mean eating more seasonal, local and less and better meat.
4) In fact, go to a farmer’s market, have a chat with the wonderful people at the stands, get them to recommend some ingredients, go home and get creative. It will taste delicious!
5) Bring people along on your journey and make conscious living contagious. Imagine what would happen if we all turned into planet power rangers…
Discover our collection of CareFull shirts here.