Oakmoss Collective: Tell us a little bit about your business.
Wakened Apparel: Wakened Apparel is basically our (David and Cassidy’s) ‘love-child’ of a creation. It all started back in the day when we were dating. We’d meet at coffee shops and dream up what our clothing line could one day be. Fast forward to today, we like to think of the Wakened as the intersection of where three of our passions meet — art, philanthropy + sustainability. These are the core values on which our company is built on. We create pieces that are not only beautiful + functional but also have such a positive impact on the world we live in. We strive to benefit the individuals who make our products, the causes our donations support + the environment. We aren’t perfect at it all but we are constantly adjusting as we learn + grow.
OM: What made you want to get started in the ethical-business world?
WA: When we originally started Wakened, ethical fashion wasn’t really even on our radar. We knew about Fair Trade and wanted to incorporate that into our line but our knowledge didn’t go much farther than that. It wasn’t until we started to educate ourselves more as consumers that we started to makes shifts in our actual business. For us the film The True Cost was a huge motivator. We were appalled at the current state of the fashion industry and its negative effects to both humanity and the environment. We reasoned that it would be counter productive to be donating to charities while still contributing to fast fashion. Enter in ethical fashion! A much better and more intentional way of doing things. And like we said, we are striving to improve in this area everyday. The more we learn, the more we make adjustments to live closer in line with our values in our personal lives and in our business.
OM: What are your business's core values and how do you implement them in the day-to-day?
WA: I mentioned our three core values earlier briefly — art, philanthropy + sustainability. Since we are a clothing line first, there is obviously a great deal of energy that goes into our aesthetic and the art we display on our tee shirts. Our collection is a mix of both creation and curation. We create all of the artwork on our shirts ourselves. This is probably one of the most fun parts of this job because you really get to let your creativity pore out. Our blankets and accessories are handmade by artisans and each piece is so uniquely made, it’s easy to just sit and admire their beauty. The idea of including philanthropy was the first thing we wanted to cement as a core value. Giving back is one of the best ways to show your own sense of gratitude. Every purchase made donates 10% to that items designated charity partner. To know that our tribe is coming together with us to help out these amazing causes is so heart warming! Sustainability is another thing we value immensely. Our earth is our home and we want to help protect it wherever we can. Some of our products are made from recycled materials like our blankets. They’re made from 100% recycled post-consumer U.S. apparel that would otherwise become landfill. We are also shifting our garment styles selections to include more natural based fibers like cotton, modal, bamboo + recycled poly. And very soon we plan to have completely compostable shipping packaging. We are also mindful of the ink we use in our garments. to reduce what enters in the waste stream, we opt for water based inks of our artwork.
OM: What is one of your favorite products that you sell?
WA: We’d have to say our blankets are the product we are most proud of. They’re versatile, functional, practical and do a whole lot of good! That’s why they’re nickname is “The Good Blanket”. Not only are they made from recycled clothing as mentioned before but they’re woven by family artisans who are mostly farmers by trade. They’re paid over the minimum wage, in addition to by the weight of the blankets. From the funds made by these blankets alone, whole communities have been able to come together to build a school and town center for their village. Family members have had the opportunity to stay with their family instead of leaving to seek better work, keeping family units together — making for even stronger communities. In addition to these blankets helping out our artisans, we donate 10% of their proceeds to two animal welfare organizations as a symbol of bringing comfort and shelter to animals in need.
OM: Where do you see Wakened Apparel in the next few years? Any big projects or plans?
WA: We see Wakened growing a larger community with more support, so we can offer a greater positive impact to the world. We are planning to head more into lifestyle direction and right now we actually have a lot in the works! Not much I can reveal now, but there are some things we are really excited about just on the horizon!
OM: What are some charities that you currently work with? How did you get started with those?
WA: Some charities we work with are the International Elephant Foundation, the International Rhino Foundation, Oceanic Preservation Society, Best Friends Animal Society and Pets In Need. We intentionally keep only a hand full of charity partners on so that we can provide a greater aid to their causes. Before we add on a new charity partner, they go through a specific vetting process. This is important to us because we want our customers donated dollar to go as far as it possibly can! We use various online references to sit through and vet charities. After we narrow our options down to one or two charities, we conduct an interview with each one and go from there.
OM: How can readers at home start to live more ethically and environmentally-conscious?
WA: It’s really easy to get over whelmed and feel like it’s too much to take on. But the truth is — it just comes down to our daily choices. An easy place to start is to replace disposable products with reusable ones. Evaluate your trash can and see what you tend to throw away. When you identify the culprits, you can then look for more environmentally-conscious alternatives. Also, we are big believers in buying less but buying better. The longer something lasts, the less you’ll be throwing away and replacing.
OM: What is a piece of advice you can give small business owners or creatives when it comes to the world of ethical shopping?
WA: Don’t try to be perfect all at once. The deeper you dive into educating yourself on the world of the ethical fashion, the more elements and options you discover. You probably won’t be able to check every single box, but don’t let that discourage you. Discern what elements within ethical fashion you value most and do those well!
OM: Where can we find you on social media?
WA: You can find us at @WakenedApparel on Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest. We are most active on Instagram and would love to see you in our Wakened Tribe!
All photos provided by Wakened Apparel. You can learn more about them on their website, here!