Sustainable Fashion Business

How To Build a Sustainable Fashion Business

In Fashion Features, Mingle Mastermind, Sustainable Fashion by Morgane Furon

If you work with fashion, you might not be a stranger to the difficulties of approaching sustainability in your business. It can certainly be challenging to include sustainable fashion goals that fit your wants, needs, and finances. Advocate, educator and small business owner Andrea Reyes joins a Mingle Mastermind session to share her experiences and advice on how to build a sustainable fashion business. She is current chair of the New York City Fair Trade Coalition, and founder of A. Bernadette, a sustainable fashion mentorship firm that helps businesses adopt more eco-friendly practices.

How to Build a Sustainable Fashion Business


5 Things You Will Learn:

  1. How to make your business not only sustainable, but MORE sustainable.
  2. How you can help solve the issue of inequality in the fashion industry.
  3. The importance of building partnerships in the sustainable fashion community.
  4. Where to find sustainable fashion mentorship to help grow your eco-friendly brand.
  5. Ethical ways for consumers to soothe and untrouble themselves, which are good for the planet.
It’s about trying to do better.

During her time as chair, Andrea has grown the Fair Trade Coalition from 20 business members to 100 business associates and advocates, helping it to become more of a movement than a traditional nonprofit. She shares her experiences of how sustainable fashion humbles an entrepreneur because it always involves learning and growing. It is indeed by listening to its members’ needs that the Coalition grows and moves forward. Andrea admits that there is no 100% correct way to implement sustainability; in her eyes, it’s about constantly trying to do better.

Fashion Mingle CEO Melissa Shea points out how it’s not just about sustainable fashion issues, but also about the matter of inequality in the fashion industry. Andrea explains that she aims to meet people where they’re at. One of the first steps is to create greater awareness of these problems among brands and consumers.

It is also about confidence and giving back

Andrea feels that there are many tools at disposal. The key, however, is prioritizing. Andrea self-describes as a sustainable fashion mentor. Catherine Schuller, a founder of Runway the Real Way, speaks of Andrea’s ability to cultivate a strong sense of camaraderie within the Fair Trade Coalition. By learning and growing in this unified community, small business owners can quickly expand their expertise. 

There are two types of members making up the Fair Trade Coalition: advocates, and business members. Advocates are those who are involved in the traditional fashion industry but who wish to promote sustainability. Meanwhile, the business members promote sustainable development goals through education, startup brands and research. According to Andrea, it is vital to infiltrate and disrupt. Dale Noelle, owner of TRUE Model Management, echoes this thought by saying that most brands want to do the right thing, but sometimes they don’t realize there is anything wrong with their approach. 

Without adopting a sustainable fashion business model, the founder of Rakomova Law and B-Corps expert Shirin Movahed feels that brands will soon be out of business. She sees how the pandemic has prompted individuals to look for better ways of doing things, which means having a mission and giving back is now just as important as the actual products. Andrea instills the same message in her students. She explains how you have to find a problem and try to solve it through fashion to be successful.

Render up to the virtual world

While the pandemic threw many businesses for a loop, Andrea saw the Fair Trade Coalition make a seamless transition by simply continuing their virtual events. She emphasizes the necessity of providing a space for connection and forward movement in a time of fear. This helps people maintain hope and motivation. Melissa adds that the insistence on fashion sustainability makes these businesses more accessible. Shirin views that as an opportunity for brands to be responsible within their communities, and for their customers.

The future of fashion may be changing, but that doesn’t mean it needs to feel overwhelming. By using Andrea’s advice and addressing each external and internal aspect of your business individually, you can be confident you’ve built a brand worth noticing.  

To continue learning about the future of the sustainable fashion business, sign up for a free Fashion Mingle profile!

About Morgane Furon

Morgane is a journalism student at Institut Européen de Journalisme in Paris who is majoring in Newsmag (fashion, lifestyle, beauty). She wants to pursue a career in fashion journalism and focus more on fashion trends and runways.

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