Since I started blogwithlips.com 6 1/2 months ago, one of the things that I love is getting the opportunity to learn more about new and established ethical & sustainable fashion brands and the women who are the driving force behind them. No matter where they're from around the globe, one thing they all have in common is their love for slow fashion, giving back and a genuine desire to do their part to save our planet ethically and responsibly. So, let's continue our #LadyBossInterview Series with Lianne Bell: Co-Founder and Creative Director of Enchanted Rebels. A U.K. based ethical womenswear bringing their customers vintage gems, reworked pieces and clothes that are made with recycled materials that have minimal impact on the environment and the artisans that contributes to create them.
"Our personalities are reflected in our clothing and most people do this without even trying. It is the finest art form." - Lianne Bell
What was the key factor that contributed in your decision to start your own sustainable womenswear brand?
After focusing on fast fashion in my final year of my Fashion Marketing degree at London Metropolitan University, there was never any option that our business wouldn’t be sustainable. To us it just makes sense, not just environmentally but also economically.
Was sustainable and ethical fashion a big part of your life growing up? If so, how?
I grew up in the North of England in the 90s so it most certainly wasn’t. I remember learning about recycling at school. We were shown how to turn old paper into new paper and we watched a video (yeah the good old days) on the recycling of Aluminium. We didn’t recycle any household waste back then and I remember feeling very sad because I knew that everything we threw away went into the ground. This was around 1995 so I would have been 9yrs old.
You and your mother, Linda Bell, are both co-founders of Enchanted Rebels. Was the decision to work with her an important part of your entrepreneurial journey?
Absolutely. My mother and I had been discussing business ideas for a while and it made sense to do this. I’ve always planned to have my own clothing business. We drive each other mad sometimes but we always end up laughing. We both agree we wouldn’t have wanted to do this with anyone else.
You are also the creative director behind Enchanted Rebels, can you share with us the process for the selection of the clothing?
The selection process for a sustainable business is certainly harder than a business that doesn’t incorporate sustainability into its business model. When we were sourcing for our collection we had to bear in mind that the fabric must be recycled or GOTS certified organic. Also the workers in the garment factory must be paid a fair wage. We wanted our clothes to be bright and fun. There are lots of sustainable brands out there doing neutral colors so we wanted to against the grain a bit, like all good rebels.
"Planet earth is important to us but we also want to look like the coolest kid on the block."- Enchanted Rebels
How would you describe the fashion direction of Enchanted Rebels?
Enchanted Rebels is for women by women. So femininity and power are at the forefront of our brand ethos and we aim for that to filter down into our fashion direction. We want to create clothing that empowers women, makes them want to have fun and is versatile enough to wear from day to night.
What makes your products ethical and environmental-friendly?
Our collection is manufactured with organic cotton, environmentally friendly dyes and manufactured in a Fairwear registered factory. The Fairwear foundation verifies working conditions and contracts of employment including fair wages.
Photo Credit: www.enchantedrebels.com
How important is it to provide your customers, garments and accessories that will have minimal impact on the environment ?
It’s very important to us. It’s at the forefront of both our brand ethos and business model and there was never any question of it being otherwise. The fashion industry is the second most polluting industry in the world and it doesn’t have to be this way.
How would you define Fashion?
Fashion a form of nonverbal communication. Our personalities are reflected in our clothing and most people do this without even trying. It is the finest art form.
In your opinion, do you think slow fashion will finally have a bigger part in the fast fashion industry and be fashion forward?
Absolutely. We are 100% moving towards a circular economy, albeit slowly but surely. I recently had a meeting with Greenpeace’s East Asia office regarding their detox fashion campaign and we were in agreement that the biggest challenge is going to be changing the psychology behind consumerism. The gratification we get from spending money is very real. There is also the issue with the ‘Instagram effect’ encouraging us to wear our clothes a handful of times. Once it’s appeared on social media you don’t want to be seen in it again. That being said, change is happening and we’ve come so far in the last 10 years I’m very excited to see what the future holds.
Photo Credit: www.enchantedrebels.com
What are the most challenging parts of being not only an entrepreneur but a woman in business?
To be honest I haven’t found anything challenging specifically because I’m a woman.. I found a 9-5 a lot more challenging than working for myself. I also think it is the most amazing time to be a woman in business. The internet has created a whole new world making it super easy to connect with other like-minded women. There are so many groups out there that you can reach out to for help and support it’s incredible.
What advice would you give to aspiring entrepreneurs who are interested in starting a sustainable apparel business?
Just go for it!
How do you maintain a work/life balance?
I do work a lot but I also have the gift of being able to work when I want so I organize my work around my life and not the other way round. I’m also extremely lucky that I can work wherever I have my laptop and working at a cafe by the beach doesn’t feel like working to me. I’m also very conscious of how much time I spend on my phone because it’s easy to get sucked in so I’ve started consciously leaving my phone at home if I go to a yoga class or go on a bike ride. Just so I have a break for a few hours each week. I’m also trying not to use my phone in bed but that’s easier said than done when you work from home. I recently read an interview with a female entrepreneur in silicon valley and she said that she gets up in the middle of the night to check her emails etc which I think is absolutely ridiculous. I’m sure your body can handle that for a few years but do you really think your mind will still be healthy at 80? I think not. There will always be something to do but the key is knowing when you’re on top of things and taking a break. It’s not the 80s, it’s not cool to be burnt out.
In 5 years, how do you envisage the future of Enchanted Rebels?
I’m really excited to see how the brand evolves over the next few years, we have so many ideas in the pipeline. I would love to have our own factory in a developing country, providing safe and fair employment for women. 80% of garment workers are women and the vast majority of them are living in poverty. I would certainly sleep better at night knowing that we are contributing to changing that statistic.
Photo Credit: www.enchantedrebels.com (VINTAGE NAVY CHECKED DRESS)