Last week, I was introduced to the beautiful (both inside & out) Jennifer Miller who was in town to showcase her collection for a fashion show. I was instantly smitten with her genuine passion and kind spirit. Jennifer is an inspiration to all and a true warrior for the Animal Rights movement. Check out this motivational video footage that was a part of her fashion show.
Pretty moving right? If that didn’t make you reconsider some of your fashion choices, maybe the interview below will.
What motivated you to create a vegan collection?
I am not the designer of the clothes. I am just the owner of the boutique and mission but work very closely with the designers in the US to fill Mission Savvy racks.
I was motivated by the need for a tangible, attractive object that could communicate animal welfare across all demographics. Something that would engage more people to talk about tough issues with out sensationalizing one side or the other.
My entire professional career has been working in the field, trekking the forests of Indonesia looking for orangutans, rehabilitating penguins oiled in Argentina and running shelter operations after natural disasters. I saw the best and the absolute worst of animal abuse and neglect. Our lives are so interconnected with each other yet organized human society draws very clear lines between us and them, sometimes intentionally as a result of cultural need, and other times unintentionally out of ignorance.
So I wanted a way to share true stories of animals in need, right now, today, this minute. After much thought and writing I chose fashion as my medium. Fashion that is produced with little impact on the environment: made locally, no toxic dyes or chemical treatments, no animal products and supporting safe labor laws.
How has this business model been created/been received along the way?
My business model has organically shifted over the past several months into what now works for me. Initially, the idea of Mission Savvy was to have five clothing collections called “missions” that represent different issues in animal welfare. My first Spring collection was put together this way.
However, I quickly discovered that I needed to put the interests of my customers first rather than the design of each cohesive collection. Any business mentor would have (and did) tell me that! But I was determined to stick with the animal welfare themed idea no matter what, until I made the decision on my own.
Today, Mission Savvy is a well edited and accommodating collection that is inspired by my customers, women of all ages, all sizes, looking for true femininity and comfort in their garments.
When my customers discover that each garment belongs to a mission that is just icing on the cake!
Here are the five missions and a sample garment from each:
Dream – to support the rescue and retirement of circus animals (bright circus colors and accents)
Instinct – supports global wildlife conservation (tribal and exotic prints)
Voice – for the rescue of farm animals to permanent sanctuary (fitness and yoga collection)
Compassion – to support global animal rescue and emergency relief (neutral colors and relaxed styles)
Freedom – supports smart science without the use of animals (black and white collection)
How has animal rights changed your life?
Being intrinsically connected with all living creatures has been innate in me forever.
Growing up I did not understand that the majority of society lives on an entirely different plane dividing our world and theirs. So when it hit me at age 14, I discovered the animal rights movement in all it's revealing, emotionally strong way. What started as a passionate quest fueled by immature actions has grown into a professional career educating through science, psychology and spiritual understanding of our responsibility to nurture the world we are in.
However, every day is a struggle. With every step forward for animals there is one step backwards. Our demanding lifestyles are tolling not only on ourselves but on the rest of the world.
What IS changing, however, is the surfacing of human ugliness associated with animal abuse. A social recognition of abusive behavior and legal justice on behalf of our sentient friends that suffer from very little protection. We are slowly getting there because so many of us are churning the momentum....more than ever!
Who are some of your style muses?
I've always been inspired by people around me. The average person that may go unnoticed, the effortless beauty with perfectly matched style/personality/movement. I love the refreshing influence of meeting new people with clear style confidence. Simplicity is at the root of all my style muses.
What current style trends bring you glee?
In general, I try to steer clear of trends and really select styles that are timeless and will transition from season to season. For me, it's important to eliminate consumer waste as much as possible. 75% of our tossed apparel ends up in land fills and 77 million people in Bangladesh suffer from arsenic poisoning due to the mass manufacturing of apparel. Slowly integrating well-designed, eco fashion pieces into your wardrobe is sustainable for the world without having to loose self expression through personal style.
In terms of fabrics though, I love tencel/bamboo blends which are relatively new to the eco market. I have a number of garments in Mission Savvy's collection with this blend. It is the most comfortable fabric for any style from a dolman tee to a super sexy dress and it is shrink and wrinkle resistant.
Anything that is so extremely disposable and of the moment. There are trends that come into fashion that last a pretty long time and transition well from year to year. However, there are fast fashion trends that really annoy me like this Fall's military theme. It's not the trend so much but the reproduction of garments to look like garments that already exist. You can pull off the military look this Fall by shopping at a local vintage shop rather than going to Charlotte Rouse and buying a crisp, new, freshly dyed and chemically treated army jacket with fake patches.
What are some short-term and long-term goals with your collection?
In the short term, I am working to expand Mission Savvy's storefront in Charleston, WV, creating a collection for the demographic here that is realistic to their needs. It is important to me that issues like eco fashion and animal welfare integrate with societies that are not saturated with these liberal ways of thinking. It's the only way we are going to reach change! Also in the short term, I want to get Mission Savvy back on the road. I had a fantastic Spring and Summer taking the collection from NYC to California to Asheville, NC. Making it accessible to everyone is important.
In the long term, my ultimate goal for the company is to be able to financially support the animal welfare missions at a level that they can continue to do the work they need to do on the ground. My favorite organization that Mission Savvy supports this year is the Jakarta Animal Aid Network which is a group of veterinary volunteers that protect animals from abuse, trade and neglect across Indonesia. Right now they are working at the volcano site of Mt. Merapi to get animals treated and into shelters.
What other cruelty-free fashion + beauty brands do you love?
1. Mink Shoes – a vegan AND eco brand designed by Rebecca Mink
2. Golden Path Alchemy skin care
3. GG2G Handbags – reasonably priced and they also donate a % of profits to Farm Sanctuary
4. and there is absolutely nothing like a Vaute Couture trench coat
Be sure to check out the Mission Savvy collection here: http://www.missionsavvy.com
Let me know your thoughts and ideas. See you next month!