Rachel Kibbe, the founder of ethical shopping hub HELPSY, isn’t shy about the impact of fast fashion. In a recent talk at Parsons for UBM Fashion’s Swim Lesson’s series she stated, “It’s killing us, it’s killing entire ecosystems and … from a fiscal or business point of view there is no way that you cannot address what your business is doing in terms of its responsibility to sustainability and to labor.” Rachel’s refreshingly honest viewpoint regarding the necessities of brands, new and established, to incorporate transparency into their supply chain is a jolt to an industry that is all too comfortable with exploiting workers, polluting our environment and putting profits above all else.
We had an e-sit down with Rachel to dig through the entrepreneur’s brain, and came away inspired and enlightened. Her passion for ethical fashion isn’t just a passing pet project, it’s a passion come to life and rapidly expanding to touch the lives of people all across the world, from customers to producers.
Frustration that there wasn’t more cool ethical fashion offered for sale in one place. Also I wanted to work in the fashion industry, but not in the way that the fashion industry was operating.
Greenwashing. Companies ramping up unethical practices everyday and “offsetting” them with capsule eco-fashion collections.
I tell them it’s the most polluting industry next to oil and energy and the shirt they’re wearing might/probably has been made by underage, slave labor. That seems to wake people up a bit.
The biggest factor is that we only sell lines that make in very small and made to order quantities. There is very little waste.
I was a cool nerd if that makes sense. I spent a lot of time with my friends, who I’m still friends with for the most part. I also did a million activities, was in the top 10% of my very difficult high school. I was a top track and cross country runner and also a classical violinist starting at age 3 through college. I went to practice camps in the summer where I’d practice violin for 8 hours a day. I was very, very busy. But I always liked to look good and always took risks. I was the first person in my school wearing whatever trend hadn’t quite hit the midwest yet. I had an intuitive appreciation for what was next.
Fun. Open minded. Irreverent. Seriously unserious. I think people who fit in best have a real passion for the issues the fashion industry face but also want to have a sense of humor about it all. Because if you can’t laugh at it, you’ll want to cry.
Fraud. Ecommerce fraud. If someone uses a stolen credit card, buys good from your store, the credit card company can just take all the money back but you already sent out the goods. So you’re screwed and have little to no protection. I have systems in place to avoid this but it’s always a concern.
In how excited the people who follow HELPSY get about anything we’re doing. I evaluate the success on how much were engaging people.
If you’re looking for fashionable and happy ethical clothes, beauty products and home goods head over to HELPSY. All products on their website are rated based on thirteen different ethical qualities, and guaranteed to have at minimum four in each product. Everything from secondhand to recycled materials to animal friendly! Learn more about the ethical qualities they hold near and dear to their hearts here.