I created Michelle Schulz, a sustainable womenswear clothing brand. To elevate the wardrobes of modern day working women, looking for elegant, casual chic outfits that work day to night. I hope to slowly introduce conscious shopping in to your lives. In with slow fashion and out with fast fashion.
Fashion should always be fun, yet when my kids were babies I found myself significantly underdressed at all times. I’d have endless conversations with other Mamas about the disappearance of our once stylish existence having dissolved into a melting pot of leftover clothes. It was our firm belief that we were not alone.
When baby number 2 came along I was determined to break free from my leggings and t-shirts, to emerge looking stunning and fresh. It still didn’t happen but somewhere along the way I did have a big change in mindset about the future of fashion and my buying process for the family.
When the Delicate Onset of Parenthood Hits You Right Between the Eyes
I was a new Mum who would fret about things, something bad happening to new new family. It was no way to live so I focused my efforts on what was within my control instead, in this case what I fed my daughter. I realised that whilst I wasn't a keen cook, making everything from scratch using fresh ingredients was actually really simple and thoroughly rewarding once you bought the raw ingredients. Sourcing good quality ingredients was not a problem in Ireland and I found that affordable organic produce was readily available.
“ I realised I could still do more. If I was careful about what went in to their tummies, what about what went on to their skin? ”
I had no idea how many chemicals were contained within our cosmetic and toiletry products that are suspected to have direct negative effects on our health. A popularly known example being the use of aluminium in many deodorants. Leading brands are often quick to use terms such as 'natural' or 'organic' to fool us into thinking that the whole product we are buying is a better quality product than the 'full' ingredient list actually confirms if you read and google it. As a new Mum needing to buy clothes for my baby this raised questions for me about the production of our clothes and any potentially harmful chemicals used to produce the fabrics. Being a first time Mum really puts a different perspective on life.
I was about to take the path less trodden around this same time by considering a career change, and at my age. My previous fashion design student days had led me to become increasingly more interested about the clothes we wore, how they were made and where they were made. After all, if food and toiletries create red flags then a piece of cloth going through a chemical infused production process could potentially be a source of concern too.
The True Cost is a documentary that has been educating us as to the environmental costs, namely that the fashion industry is one of the top globally polluting industries alongside the oil industry.”
So, where did this leave my childhood dream? I wanted to be a womenswear designer but with the reality sinking in from what is happening in the fashion industry, it raised questions. Aren’t I simply adding to the negative impact of the fashion industry? How on earth do I go about doing this responsibly knowing what I now do?
“ Does the world really need another clothing brand, probably not, but it does need a bunch of ethical, eco-friendly, sustainable clothing brands. ”
I just couldn’t ignore the negative impact of the industry and decided then and there that if I do this, it must be eco-friendly and have a positive impact.
My Eureka Moment!
I spent the next couple of years researching, whilst doing school runs, taking classes, meetings and trying to make new friends in Germany where we had just moved to. Finally it hit me, I had such a chaotic day full of diverse activities and tasks that ‘’I have nothing to wear!’’ was my problem. I found it so difficult to select an outfit that would work with my day, no matter the task.
“ But with my ‘busy Mum, who works from home’ schedule I really didn’t know what I could wear that would get me through the day. I ended up doing more wardrobe changes than a Katy Perry concert. ”
I did not want to be too casual as I usually had a meeting or a class to attend. I didn’t want to be too ‘’business’’ because I had school runs, dog walking and coffee meetups with friends. Somehow the old ‘’smart casual’’ look didn’t feel right either.
I wanted to be ‘’an eco-conscious, elegant, casual chic woman’’, (not a polyester wearing overheated mess) so this outfit had to get me through a busy day and that’s what my womenswear line is all about.
Celebrating the busy, sometimes chaotic schedules of us Mums who freelance, are remote home workers, or simply are not restricted to business smart wear by offering casual chic designs that work with our day and not against us. So, my brand was born ''Michelle Schulz, Conditional Collections''.
Here’s How You Can Help Make The Future A Brighter Place
Think before you buy. There are many ways to approach it and you don’t have to check all the boxes at once. You can choose to become an ethical, eco-conscious shopper in numerous ways:
Buy less and spend more on quality - natural, breathable fibres like linens, cotton, hemp, silk and bamboo
Buy local products to reduce your carbon footprint and support local business
Buy organic fabrics or if possible certified organic clothing GOTS
Buy recycled textiles REPREVE polyester/nylon - these are favourites with sports and swimwear lines
Buy clothing made from rescued fabrics that would otherwise have been discarded into landfill sites if not sold
Buy clothing that is ethically produced, that farmers and workers receive fair-trade wages and working conditions
Buy second-hand clothing or swap with friends - hold a clothing exchange party
Look for Social Enterprise Initiatives to support and enjoy owning a handcrafted item
Revive your existing wardrobe, don't simply throw everything out and start again. It's not practical, affordable, or good for the environment.
Eco-friendly fashion must become an intrinsic part of the buying decision and not just an afterthought but it will take time. Sustainable fabrics and ethical working practices do result in a more expensive item of clothing, fact. I hope that costs can be driven down when all retailers take serious steps to do their part. Become an eco-conscious shopper, take it gently, avoid eco-burn out.
I hope my limited edition, first collection Michelle Schulz, Conditional Collections can be slowly introduced into wardrobes with elegant, classic shapes, using sustainable fabrics with a tailored twist.
Thanks for reading!
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Edited and re-published 07/09/2018