By Lori Stultz, VO Rocky Mountain Outreach Coordinator
Welcome back to the second part of our interview with Jean White, owner of the Seattle-based vegan boutique, Drizzle & Shine. If you missed the first part of the interview last week, click here to get caught up.
Before jumping back into the interview with Jean, remember that she has graciously offered to send a free vegan goodies basket from her store! The entry form will remain open through Saturday, July 30 (12:00 pm North American MT). You can access the entry form at the end of the interview.
Now, let’s get to know more about Jean and her business!
Lori Stultz: What did your journey look like between your heightened awareness of the ethical problems in the fashion industry and the opening of Drizzle & Shine?
Jean White: Around the time I cut animal products out of my wardrobe, I also started an animal rights blog, called Sunshine and Slaughter. The blog focuses on different animal issues and vegan alternatives—not just fashion, but food, nutrition, travel, and so on. All these things cumulated and it wasn’t long until I started considering the environmental and human costs of the clothing industry.
I read a book called Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion. It explained the disappearing US manufacturing sector and how our shopping has changed. We buy more, it costs less, but it’s detrimental to garment workers around the world and the environment.
Then I watched a documentary called The True Cost. It was eye-opening, too. I saw how garment workers are exploited and how the environment is being ruined. I realized that I was part of the problem. The multi-trillion dollar clothing industry is funded by people like me, one cheap garment at a time.
I changed the way I shopped. Vegan is still the bar, but I also started looking for organic and fair trade items. It was hard to find clothing and accessories that met my new criteria. I still love thrifting, and online shopping was helpful, but I wanted a place in Seattle where I could touch, feel, and buy in person.
There are some fair trade boutiques and stores that sell US-made goods, but no clothing stores were also animal-free. I kept thinking that maybe I needed to open one, but I put that idea out of my head because I had a job! Eventually, it was an itch I had to scratch! I just couldn’t shake the idea. I started researching and planning, and, finally, I made my move.
Lori: Wow! Good for you, Jean. How inspiring! I’m curious to know how the demand has changed since you first started taking direct action on the ethical concerns of the fashion industry? Have you seen an increasing demand for cruelty-free clothing and accessories?
Jean: I took a gamble by opening Drizzle & Shine. I certainly asked myself: would other people care? It’s only been a couple of months, but the answer is yes!
I’ve had customers literally jump for joy, hug me, or tell me they love me! Nobody wants clothing from sweatshops. It’s just that some people don’t know about the issue or don’t know about alternatives.
Some customers seek out sweatshop-free clothing, others are unaware of my mission, but are pleasantly surprised when they find out my products are vegan and ethically sourced. There are some people who are drawn into the store simply because of the stylish clothing and reasonable prices. Even if people are not shopping at Drizzle & Shine because the products are ethically sourced, they’re still making a difference. And I think it gives people an opportunity to learn!
Lori: For those of us who don’t live in Seattle, how can we purchase clothing and accessories from you?
Jean: I want you to make Drizzle & Shine your next destination! Come to Seattle and visit us! My goal was to have a brick and mortar store for people in the area. There are online vegan shops that are doing what they do very well. I don’t need to compete with them. That said, this is 2016 and everyone needs an online presence. We have a small online store on our website so people from out of town can get a few of our popular items shipped to them.
Lori: Great! Good to know! And what if people are looking to get more informed about the ethical issues of the fashion industry? What resources would you recommend?
Jean: Interestingly, the ethical issues often forget about the animals who suffer in the name of fashion. I recommend looking at my animal blog (Sunshine and Slaughter) and search for leather, wool, and down. I list a lot of third-party resources on those pages.
In terms of garment workers and the environment, I’d head over to Fashion Revolution. They have a lot of great information and links to further resources.
Also, check out the website for The True Cost for more information. The documentary is on Netflix, iTunes, and Amazon. It’s a game changer!
Lori: Thank you so much for taking the time to talk with Vegan Outreach, Jean! And an even bigger thank you for taking such a creative and bold stand against animal, non-human animal, and environmental injustices that occur in the fashion industry. Best of luck to you and your awesome new business!