Jillian: talented teenager with ethical style
You know that I always get excited to introduce you to other ethical fashionistas, but this one is extra fun for me!
Jillian is a junior in high school who is deeply interested in ethical fashion and design. Not only is she interested in these things, she's clearly very talented in them as well.
(Seriously, check out her Instagram @hellojillianrose for major aesthetic inspo!)
It is rare for me to meet someone so young who has such an awareness and beautiful articulation around issues of conscious consumerism.
Interviewing Jillian gives me such hope and anticipation for the future of fashion.
I know you'll be impressed and inspired as you read Jillian's responses...
Share a little of your personal background...
I've spent most of my life in Portland, Oregon and am in love with the city + its culture. I am currently a junior in high school, and beginning to actively research schools and plans for college! In my free time I sing, play piano, take photos, read, bake, and spend as much time as I can exploring new places. Most of my inspiration comes from bouncing ideas off of my family + friends.
what do you hope to be doing in ten years?
After I graduate from high school, I am hoping to go to school for journalism and advertising. My dream job involves anything with design, and hopefully travel! I would love to continue to do something with photography and fashion, two of my favorite things.
What does a typical day look like for you?
For me, a typical day is pretty packed. I go to school from 8 am until 3 pm, and spend that time taking lots of notes, learning new things, and socializing with my peers. I spend my afternoons working on homework, hanging out with friends, and practicing singing + piano. My weekends are usually spent with my family, exploring Portland or traveling to new places.
When did you start shopping ethically and what prompted that change?
A year ago, my mom and I began researching fast fashion and how it affects people as well as the environment. It was heartbreaking to learn of the corruption of big name companies, the severely underpaid workers, and the way in which mass producing and purchasing clothing hurts our planet. Learning these things inspired me to make a change in my own life.
I've been working to convert my wardrobe and the way I shop, from cheap/mass produced clothing, to more locally + ethically made pieces. It's definitely a process, and not an easy thing to do, but I am trying my best to buy ethically whenever I can. It feels so rewarding to know I am supporting companies who not only make their clothing with materials that are not harmful, but also know their factories and treat their workers well.
Describe your personal style...
I would describe my personal style as simple with an attempt at classy. I wear a lot of black, and my typical uniform is skinny jeans, sneakers, and a sweater. My simple style has made this transition easier, because I can purchase simple, well made pieces that I know I will use for a long time.
What are your favorite ethical brands to support?
I love love love Everlane! They know their factories, are always honest about materials, and create super classy yet simple pieces. Portland has a ton of awesome local designers (Shop Johan + Seven Sisters offer amazing ethical pieces) that I will occasionally buy from as well. Also- thrift shopping is a great alternative!
What would you like to see more of in the ethical fashion industry?
I would love to see more ethical clothing companies aimed towards kids + teenagers, because it seems like there's not a lot out there yet.
Can you identify any major obstacles you've had to overcome in the endeavor?
It has been hard to completely make the switch and start buying only ethically made clothing. So I've slowly been accumulating pieces, while also realizing that I won't always be able to buy everything from ethical companies. I love style and fashion, but it is constantly changing- so often times I am tempted to change my wardrobe with it. Shopping ethically is definitely more expensive, and there are far fewer ethically made clothing companies than fast fashion stores. I have had to be a lot more careful about where I am buying from and when I buy. I’ve started to check tags on clothes and look for the countries that are known for treating factory workers fairly, as well as looking for materials that do not hurt the environment so much (like polyester!). I've also recently started thrift shopping for things I can't always easily buy from ethical companies.
How do you make ethical shopping work with your budget?
I don't shop often. Before I became more aware of these issues, I would buy random clothing items from cheap stores like H&M or Forever 21, with the idea of only wearing it once or twice in mind. Part of making this switch has been me taking care to be more mindful of each thing I am purchasing. So I do not buy often, and when I do (ethical pieces tend to be more expensive), I try to make sure that it's an item I will wear many, many times.
What's been the most rewarding part of this shift for you?
I have become a lot more aware of what I am spending my money on, and what I am wearing. It feels so rewarding to know I can make a difference in the world by doing what feels like such a small thing!
It's inspiring to meet someone at your age who is interested in shopping ethically, are you seeing this sentiment shared amongst your peers?
I feel like this is a great time for people to learn about shopping/supporting ethical fashion! Most of my peers definitely care about the environment and seem to be interested in learning about the dangers and carelessness of fast fashion. I have especially noticed that almost all of my friends have begun thrift shopping more than purchasing brand new, which I think is awesome!
What's one piece of advice you would offer to anyone who wants to start shopping ethically?
Shopping ethically is not always easy, but it is definitely worth it. I am not super rigid or strict, but I try to buy from local + ethical fashion companies whenever I can, and even that small change makes a huge difference! I think it's a beautiful thing that we all can make a change in the lives of others and in our environment by doing such a small thing. The more we draw awareness to the injustices in the fast fashion industry and factories, the easier it will be to make a significant difference.
It's all about buying less, because I know it is hard and sometimes impossible to buy only ethically. The main thing that I have learned is that it is important to be mindful of what you are buying, where it's being made, and how it is being made.