Antonia Devereux talks to Frida about her decision to leave her fashion brand and business, FRIDA, behind. They cover the issues within the fashion sector and her plans for the future, as well as her words of wisdom to those who want to start their own business.
Wild spoke to Frida back in February, as she introduced us to her fashion brand, FRIDA: a new and eco-conscious clothing line that created made-to-order pieces from bamboo fabrics, while promoting slow fashion and ethical practices. Miss our first article? Read it here. With business booming, everyone was surprised when Frida decided to leave her brand behind. Wild reached out again to find out why.
What influenced you to create FRIDA?
I became increasingly interested in sustainability after hearing a podcast about fast fashion and veganism. At the time I had no clue about what “fast fashion” was and I was far from vegan – but after I listened, I was hooked. Listening to the podcast reminded me of the documentary ‘The True Cost’, so I watched that almost straight after. My knowledge about the fashion industry grew and I began to understand that the production of clothing wasn’t fair. Admittedly, I was a huge shopaholic, which I think is why it resonated with me so much. I took on a lot of the guilt and shame, so I felt that I had to make changes. I decided that I wanted to try my hardest to quit fast fashion and instead shop sustainably.
At first I started slowly, by reducing what I was buying and shopping second hand more often. My previous fashion addiction helped, I wasn’t exactly short on clothes, and knew that I didn’t need more. At this time I was living in Sweden and ready to move back to the UK to start my university degree in fashion design, which is when I started my clothing brand FRIDA. I ran FRIDA alongside my boyfriend for 2 years, focusing on timeless, bamboo basics which made women feel comfortable, confident and all of our materials were kind on the skin, as well as made ethically by me! FRIDA was designed to be as sustainable as we could possibly make it; organic threads, organic materials, ethically produced, compostable packaging etc – but something still didn’t feel right.
So why did you leave the brand behind?
In the final few months of the brand, things began to feel what I can only describe as ‘heavy’. I’m still not sure whether the feeling was guilt, but in July 2021, I stopped taking orders and production ended. On social media it seemed so sudden, but the idea had been processing for long enough – in my heart, it felt right.
The biggest reason to stop FRIDA for me was that it didn’t make sense anymore. Sustainability is defined as “meeting our own needs without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” Is producing more clothing and creating waste the definition of sustainability? That’s what I felt I was making it out to be. Despite all the measures we put in place to make FRIDA as sustainable as possible, the fact was that I was making clothes which didn’t need to be made. I found it so difficult to balance that feeling of doing something good for the industry but bad for the environment.
There are so many incredible sustainable brands out there which I felt myself, and my consumers, should be supporting and I’m not afraid to say that with the machinery they use, the pieces are much higher quality to what I was able to create. The whole point of buying sustainable is so that it lasts as long as possible. I am not saying that if you run your own sustainable brand you should quit, there are so many factors that contribute to these decisions and we need sustainable brands to push for change.
However, for me, it didn’t feel right – perhaps we should try and make existing brands better, rather than adding new ones, whether they are sustainable or not. Of course there are gaps in the markets, and passionate people who can create new platforms to implement change, but I strongly believe that if you are thinking of starting a brand, then you must try and make it as sustainable and ethical as possible, otherwise it is hindering our world.
What are your plans for the future now?
After deciding to stop FRIDA, I felt a little lost with my Instagram account at first. FRIDA’s social media had been a selling platform for 2 years, but now I had nothing to sell, in fact, I didn’t want to sell anything at all. Posting and chatting to all the wonderful people who follow me makes me feel so full inside, and the term ‘green influencer’ is growing. Although I don’t think I’m quite there yet, I find joy in creating fun content while trying to ensure it is educational and meaningful too. I still have so much passion for the fashion industry, and my biggest goal is to help people think before they buy, and support them in the search for better brands with higher quality pieces.
When Lockdown in the UK started in March 2020, I took a personal branding photography course which was pretty full on, but also the best decision I have ever made! I always loved photography but I never knew how I could make it a career. After the course finished, I started to work with small businesses all around the UK to help them get beautiful images to use for their brand!
This was the beginning of “Better Branding By Frida”, where I aim to work with businesses who truly aspire to make a positive impact, using my experience of having a brand myself. It has also given me the freedom to move away, and I’m planning to move to Sweden in January! Lockdown had its difficulties, however, some really great things came from it – if you want to learn more, I talk more about my photography and the move to another country on my Instagram and my YouTube channel!
The past three years have been a journey, with so much growth and change, not just personally but in the world. Sadly, fast fashion is still one of the largest polluters worldwide and some brands are selling clothes for less than £2.50. It’s an industry which needs a lot of work, and as a very privileged young person, I feel as though I must do that work for the people who don’t have a voice to do so.
I’d say my advice to other people who might want to start something in fashion or any small business is to make it as kind as you possibly can – kind to the people, kind to the world, kind to the animals, kind to yourself! A great resource for this is the book and podcast “The Kindness Economy” By Mary Portas. Mary writes about how key kindness is when building brands and gives ideas on how to make a business as sustainable as possible. It’s easy not to care about these things but if you are wanting to start a business, it won’t last if it’s not sustainable.
For those of you who are wanting to be a little more sustainable in any areas of your life, I have a few simple tips:
- Buy Less (of everything!!!)
- Eat more plants
- Reuse what you can
- Don’t give up on your clothes – repair them!
- Opt for reusable items rather than single use
- Shop second hand
I hope these help and if you want to learn more, check out my YouTube channel! Sustainability is all about creating a life you can sustain – don’t pressure yourself, we can all do little things to be better.
Looking for some sustainable fashion hacks? Check out Wild’s list below:
Hire Street – Fancy occasion? Know you’ll never wear it again? Hire street and other renting shops are perfect. You get the fanciest designer dress you’ve ever seen for a fraction of the price, it gets to be worn over and over again, and the planet doesn’t suffer – Everyone gets what they deserve!
Good On You – Nowadays, so many brands label themselves as sustainable that it can be overwhelming to try to weed out the greenwashers. Luckily, the app and website ‘Good On You’ is here to help. Brands are rated across three scales, people, planet, and animals, making it easier for you to buy the clothes you love, without harming the planet.
About the Author: Antonia Devereux, WILD Magazine’s Managing Editor, is a 3rd year Environment, Economics and Ecology student at the University of York, currently working as an Environmental Consultant. She’s a self proclaimed Vinted enthusiast, seeking out all the second hand steals.