We love the LA fashion brand Prelovely and wanted to share their inspiring story and tell you how you can get involved in Preloved Month and take the Preloved Challenge. We were lucky enough to interview Jennifer Elizabeth, Prelovely | Founder + Chief Curator.
We love your eco-conscious fashion brand and can’t get enough of the clothes in your online shop. Please can you tell us a little bit about you, when you first started buying second hand and where your love of fashion comes from?
Thanks! I’m from Los Angeles, CA, an actual native (we do exist). When not working I spend my time at the beach, hiking or exploring the world. Traveling and experiencing other cultures is very important to me and I try to do it as often as possible. My love of fashion started young. My mom was a very stylish woman and so was my grandmother (when she wasn’t bummin’ it in her lounge clothes). We spent almost every weekend in a department store, boutique or perusing the allies in the Downtown LA fashion district. Though I was definitely a tomboy (I have 3 brothers) I had my girly side too and would frequently sneak into my moms closet to play dress up.
The world of second hand shopping is relatively new to me. As a girl I can’t ever recall the three of us setting foot in a thrift store. We were first hand shoppers, the kind that accumulated massive amounts of clothes, many of which sat in our closets unworn. I took that habit with me into adulthood, I finally discovered the awesomeness of thrifting when I made my exit from Corporate America.
Your brand has a fantastic backstory, like how you hung up your corporate uniform in favour of creating your very own preloved fashion brand, can you fill us in on when you decided to take that leap?
Let me start by saying this, it was not an easy leap to take!. I had a cushy, well paying job in banking – that I was good at. While working my banking job I moonlighted as a fashion designer which allowed me to express myself creatively. But, as years passed I realized I didn’t want to spend my life behind a desk, no matter how big the check was. In 2008, perfectly in sync with the global banking crisis, I left. Considering the economy was in the garbage at that time, it was definitely a struggle without my bi-weekly paycheck. I was forced to go back to banking part time until 2014 when a month long adventure in Bali inspired me to completely let go and leave banking for good.
Your love of preloved treasures has taken you on travels all over the world, where have you found the best stash of clothes and where’s next on your list of places to explore on your quest for preloved loveliness for your shop?
Belgium is an amazing country in general, it’s given the world Belgian chocolate, Belgian waffles and Raf Simons! During my Eurotour last Spring I stayed in this magical, medieval, Belgian city called Ghent. I found the most beautiful pieces here – the favorite of my trip, even beating out Paris.
There are so many places on the treasure-hunting list. My top two are South Africa and Australia. I’ve never been to either country, I’m excited to experience their cultures and their opshopping. Kiev (Ukraine) is also on my radar, as I’ve heard amazing things about the second hand scene there.
At what point did you realise your mission involved saving clothes from landfill and how has that changed the way you consume? Can you tell us a bit about the efforts you go to to ensure your brand is as sustainable as possible and what tips would you give to other brands trying to create beautiful sustainable brands?
As mentioned, I didn’t grow up thrifting, rather I was conditioned to be a typical American consumer. Always buying more when I wasn’t fully using what I had. As I spent more and more time in thrift stores around LA I kept coming across the most amazing clothes: Roberto Cavalli, Valentino, Proenza Schouler, Dries Van Noten, YSL, Dolce & Gabbana, all in like new condition and perfectly modern (not some old, outdated style). When I wasn’t scoring designer pieces I would find tons of things from popular contemporary brands like Madewell, Urban Outfitters and Wildfox that had never been worn and I knew they’d never been worn because the tags were still attached. All of this in a thrift store!
Other people’s “trash” was continually leaving me in awe and I began to ask myself why were all these fabulous things ending up in charity shops. At that point, about 6 months into thrifting full time, my personal buying habits started to change.
Then, once I got to Europe and experienced the same thing there, I really started to self reflect. I felt the need to drastically change my personal habits but also work to improve my habits as a business. While this global excess is what fuels my company, I know these practices of over consumption and over production are not sustainable. I also realized that it will take a lot of effort to improve the habits of Westerners but even if through my small business I’m able to effect change within a tiny population, its worth it.
For entrepreneurs seeking to develop a more mindful brand my suggestion is to start small. Unfortunately, being a sustainable brand means you may have to spend more money on things that would be cheaper if you purchased their classically produced counterparts. So instead of aiming for perfection make compromises. Maybe that means buying something that’s not “green” and reusing it as many times as possible until you can afford to purchase the sustainable option. I’ve taken that approach with Prelovely’s packaging. When I started my mailers were made from virgin plastic (aka new) now that I can afford to I’ll be using recycled plastic bags and I’ve even sourced biodegradeable, green tape that I’m very excited about. This may seem trivial but its the small steps that lead to giant leaps.
This month, February, is #PrelovedMonth,what is the #PrelovedPledge, why is it important and how can people get involved? What impact are you hoping it will have?
Preloved Month is a campaign I developed to celebrate sustainable fashion practices and create awareness about the importance of donating or recycling old clothes and textiles (as opposed to throwing them out). Every year, just in America, 21 billion pounds of clothing and textiles ends up in landfills. That number shocked me when I came upon it. Since I’m in the business of selling preloved clothes I knew I could so something to change this.
When you take the #PrelovedPledge you make two commitments:
- Donate or recycle ALL your old/unusable clothing and textiles throughout the year
- Limit your clothing purchases to preloved during the month of February
The goal here is to reduce the insane amount of clothing that ends up in landfills and inspire more people to second hand shop, because as I’ve learnt, shopping preloved can be just as good (if not better) than buying new. And its sustainable.
I spotted your competition to win a free bundle box, how can people enter?
To win a free limited edition Prelovely Bundle Box its easy. First, take the #PrelovedPledge then use the hashtags #PrelovedPledge and #PrelovedMonth on all the thrifted, secondhand looks you post on Instagram. We want the world to see how chic, sustainable, secondhand style is.
Thank you to Jennifer Elizabeth, we loved learning about the Prelovely backstory and the brave steps involved in launching Prelovely as a full time business. Head on over to the Prelovely website to find out more!
Join Our Newsletter To Discover Simple Steps To Make Your Business More Sustainable
Being a green business will help the environment and could improve your company’s chances of success. Sustainable business is about meeting three key requirements; being environmentally friendly, considerate towards society (especially those affected by your business), and profitable so the business can survive, thrive and act responsibly whilst making a positive impact.
It isn’t about writing a policy and filing it away to gather dust, it’s about taking action. A sustainable business should have these values ingrained in their business strategy and daily decision making. Do you run a sustainable business?
At Bough to Beauty Bespoke, we want to help you by sharing innovative solutions that tackle environmental challenges facing businesses today. We’ve lined up some inspiring interviews with successful sustainable businesses that are making a positive impact.
We’ll be sharing these on our blog, along with simple steps to make your business more sustainable. If you’d like to hear more sign up to our newsletter and stay tuned!
Thanks for reading!
Vix & Lou
*If you’d like to share tips on how you reduce waste and create a positive impact in your business we’d love to hear from you.