Spin Your Story : This is our { r }evolution

Spin Your Story guest post by Shannon Whitehead.

Our story starts off pretty simply. Two recent college grads meet on a working holiday in Australia. They become close friends, but eventually go separate ways to travel and start new chapters in their lives.Two years later they reconnect while back in the States, and decide together to do something different. They commit to starting a business, a clothing line to be exact, with the intention of changing the paradigm of fashion and consumption.

Fast forward a year later and we, Kristin and Shannon, have found ourselves on a journey where there’s no turning back.

We are attempting to do what no one in the fashion industry has ever done before. A completely sustainable, 100 percent organic, travel apparel line that promotes minimalism and un-consumption, and says “no” to cheap fabric, cheap labor, and the environmental damage of traditional textiles.

But that’s the short version.

In the Beginning

In May of 2010, I was wrapping up a nine-month stay in Cape Town, South Africa. I had spent the past months bartending for 10 US dollars per nine hour shift, working on a non-profit photography and writing project in the townships, and loving every minute of it.

At the time, the thought of going home, just as the World Cup was about to start, was almost impossible to comprehend. Even worse, I was on the brink of turning 25, and dealing with a combination of extreme return-culture-shock and the pressure of becoming a part of the “real world.”

Just one week earlier I was riding in an open-air vehicle through the savanna of Namibia — and now I was supposed to go home and sit in an office cubicle?

Kristin

I got an e-mail from Kristin a few days after I got back home. She had been in New Orleans for the past six months, bartending and struggling to find direction. Her declaration of a “quarter-life” crisis was exactly how I was feeling, and we committed to figuring out a solution together.

I’ll never forget the feeling I had after hanging up from our first phone call. The brainstorming had begun, and we couldn’t stop bouncing ideas back and forth. The amount of relief and excitement was overwhelming — I knew we were onto something.

By mid-July, we had plans to fly to Central America in the Fall, start a blog to document our journey, learn Spanish, and find a product to import back to the States.

Designing a Clothing Line in Guatemala

I met Kristin in Guatemala in October, and we spent the first two weeks living with a local family in the town of Antigua. During that time, we quickly came to the conclusion that there wasn’t a local product we were interested in importing.

We did, however, realize how difficult it was to live out of a backpack and still try to look somewhat presentable, mixing and matching the only clean pieces of clothing we had left and not worrying about whether the colors matched or not.

And that’s when we started designing a travel apparel line. Ten different pieces — from a maxi dress to a cardigan — that could be worn together to create over 100 different looks. They would all fit in a backpack or suitcase with room to spare, all the colors would go together, and each piece could be reversed or worn a different way.

The ultimate clothing line in functionality, versatility and minimalism.

From tiny coffee shops with unreliable internet connections, we started to research how to start a clothing line. It didn’t take long to realize that there is a right way and a wrong way to produce textiles and that, for the most part, the fashion industry has an incredibly toxic and destructive effect on the environment.

So, we decided to figure out how to do it the right way. We flew back to the States and dove in head first not fully grasping the scope of the challenge we had ahead of ourselves.

Where We Are Today


It’s been a year since we decided to pursue our business and travel passions, and document our progress.

We have a full set of designs that are currently being made into samples in Denver, Colorado. We are in the midst of very hopeful conversation with a potential manufacturer in Australia, and we’re starting to design our new website, as well as put together our investment campaign for the Fall.

Our blog has taken on a life of its own and we have built a community of incredible supporters, who have virtually traveled with us to organic cotton farms in Nicaragua and to expert consultations in the textile belt of America.

We’ve all learned a lot. We’ve learned that many companies claim to be 100 percent organic when, in actuality, they aren’t. We’ve learned that organic cotton makes up about .76% of all the cotton in the world. We’ve learned it’s very expensive and that the manufacturing process is incredibly tedious.

But we’ve also learned that it’s possible. That doing business doesn’t have to be destructive to environments or laborers in the developing world. That it doesn’t take a masters degree in sustainable design to change an industry. That when enough people care about something, change will slowly come.

Exciting times are ahead. Join us as we make this shift, because we believe the woman who changes her clothes, changes the world.

Shannon Whitehead, along with Kristin Glenn are the creators of {r}evolution apparel — coming 2012. They blog about their experience in starting a clothing line at All of Us Revolution, as well as write about a range of other topics like, consumption, minimalism, the environment, social entrepreneurship and travel. Follow their journey on Twitter (@AllofUsRev) or on Facebook.

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