Wearwell's co-founder Emily Kenney chats with Katie Gonzales, Partner + Owner of Ethic Goods based in Washington, DC. They chat about how she became interested in sustainability and why she chooses classic over trendy styles to build her sustainable looks.
Emily Kenney: So happy to be chatting with you, Katie! I’d love to hear about how Ethic Goods got its start. What’s the founding story?
Katie Gonzales: Ethic Goods was founded in 2011 on the idea that fashion can empower. After visiting several anti-trafficking groups in Thailand, Maegan Hawley discovered one thing that the men and women impacted by trafficking had in common was the need for employment in a safe environment. Most of them were skilled artisans who were already making jewelry, but many were struggling to grow their businesses. That’s when the idea for Ethic Goods hit: she could help expand the artists’ market reach by selling jewelry in the US. Maegan brought as much as her suitcase could carry back to the US and it quickly sold out! Soon, she was placing new orders and connecting with other artisan groups and then launched the first-ever designs unique to Ethic Goods.
Emily: What a great story and mission! In 3 words, how do you describe Ethic Good’s aesthetic?
Katie: Empowering, fun, and joyful.
Emily: And how did your interest in sustainable fashion begin?
Katie: I have an aunt who introduced me to thrifting. I wasn't exactly excited to go thrifting when I was younger, but as I grew up and started to notice the difference between fast fashion and quality items, I started to pay more attention. This interest led to a degree in merchandising, apparel, and textiles where I learned production processes and how to invest more time into sustainability. Now, for me and the team at Ethic Goods, it's not just about the quality of items but about who makes them and how to make their jobs sustainable as well as the items they are producing.
Emily: What’s one piece of advice you would give someone who is just beginning to build their sustainable wardrobe?
Katie: Think classic over trendy. Look at an item and think of the versatility and how long you can wear it. Classic never goes out of style.
Emily: Yes, I love that advice! Sustainability in fashion can be described in so many different ways; how do you define “sustainable fashion?”
Katie: I think the key is that the piece is sustainable in both quality and source. We focus most on the sustainability and balance of the way items are made and the women who make them. We want to make sure they are paid fair wages and set up in a system that lasts well into the future so there is a positive impact on them and future generations.
Emily: Absolutely; focusing on who and how something is made is so key. What are some of your favorite styles from Ethic Goods?
Emily: So what is next for Ethic Goods - any new styles that you’re looking forward to?
Katie: We are launching 75 new products! Most of these new designs are 6mm Morse Code Bracelets. They are made with so many fun new colors of semi-precious stones. We can't wait to see all the new stacks that people create and how they tell their story and the story of the artisan who made it!