Ethical Fashion : Some insider knowledge

We are delighted to welcome our friend and the UK and Ireland brand and sales manager for Armedangels, Serena Francis.  Armedangels is a terrific German label which is one of our very favourites here at OBG.  Serena, now a home based working Mum in London, started off in fashion working on shop floors, has risen through the ranks of sales and merchandising and has a great insight into the production of sustainable and ethical clothing.

I started as a part time weekend assistant in Harrods, then, I moved to work at Harvey Nichols in Central London.

My first wholesale role was working with a brand called Milla but I really got the fashion bug when I moved into a brand called Joseph Ribkoff. I started as the customer service assistant then moved into sales and VM where I travelled to Canada and through -out Europe.

Sustainable living for me as a working mum means reducing my waste, riding my bike when I do not need to drive, recycling and teaching my son about recycling & the planet (planting the seed from early so he is much more conscious than me) & buying more consciously. For example, my son gets £5 to spend on any toys he loves from the Charity Shop. This £5 means more to him than if I took him to chain store and spend £45.00 on the latest toy, he feels like he’s earnt the £5 and these toys are getting a new lease of life.

I work from home so I have to be super disciplined.  In the morning I meditate , do my gratitude journal , take my son to school , go for a quick run ( about 3xs a week) then I get ready in my home office for the day.

I would not say I have many influences when it comes to work. I try to be a better version of myself and push myself outside of my comfort zone.  With working from home I love listening to podcasts such as:

School of Greatness: Lewes Howes

Super Soul Sessions: Oprah Winfrey

How I built this: Guy Raz

  

I do not truly believe there is such a thing as a work/life balance! I think the aim is to do the best you can and not be too hard on oneself.  I also have a wonderful family who help me with my son.  I could not achieve anything without the support of my family.

 

To be successful at anything there needs to be a slight obsession in order to go the extra mile.  I read a book by Shonda Rhimes called ‘The year of Yes’, she talks about how she subconsciously became a workaholic , (she is the creator of Grey’s Anatomy and Scandal), but when her little girl asks her to play, Shonda stops everything and plays with her daughter before carrying on with her day.  I try to use an aspect of this with my son.  Connor is only 6 years old but when he says “Mummy play with me” I say to myself give him 10 minutes.  I mean in the grand scheme of things what is 10 minutes? But this is still something I struggle with.

I have come from a Jamaican background, growing up as a child my grandmother used to cook food from scratch, using fresh ingredients, apart from on Fridays when I was allowed to eat junk food like,  frozen pizza. This was handed down to my mother and now to me.

made me so eager to learn from people from all walks of life. For example I was recently in Dublin and the taxi driver and I was discussing & reminiscing about how there are so many similarities within the Irish and Jamaican culture.

Now I have been exposed to the ethical sustainable fashion sector I can tell the difference between mass production and ethical, sustainable product. As soon as you feel a garment from Armedangels you are completely sold by the softness of the fabric against the skin because we only use organic cotton.

 

Spend the extra €10-€20 and buy into investment items that are not going to fall apart in the wash and are trans-seasonal, wardrobe pieces that you will wear again & again & make you look and feel so much better from the inside out. Also support the indies that stock ethical brands, why?

For many reasons that include you will be helping to support the production chain within the fashion industry by bringing focus to fashion ‘fair’ the usage of sustainable fabrics which in turn help the environment. The clothing industry is the 2nd largest polluter in the world after the oil industry, we can all do our bit where we can… this will go a long way.

To be honest before I worked for Armedangels I did not comprehend what sustainability meant in terms of ‘the fashion industry’. This kind of information was something that isn’t taught within the education system but more you would have to seek out and have a vested interest in this topic.

It is fascinating to know that 1 pound of cotton (the plant used to make our clothes) requires over a 100 grams of pesticide (takes 227 grams of cotton to make one T-shirt) and over 1,500 gallons of water to make a single pair of jeans.

{Serena at the Premium Fashion Expo in Berlin this year}

My main project at the moment is to continue to spread the ARMEDANGELS message throughout the UK and Ireland & to help ethical, sustainable brands be a common fixture on the shop floor.

There is a lot more news reported in the media about the big fashion houses which are starting to recognise the importance of “sustainable, slow fashion.”

Name one thing you are good at, one thing you could be better at, and one aspiration.

I love this question, thank you for asking!

I am good at creating ideas and turning them into a reality

I could be better at Excel!

Practising gratitude every day makes you appreciate everything you ‘have’ instead of focusing on what you do not have.

Check out the Armedangels range at https://ohhbygum.ie/collections/womenswear/Armed-Angels

FYI! If you like the hoodie Serena is wearing in her pictures standby!  We have them on order for AW18! Sure to be a sell out!

Ethel Feneran
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