KAROLINE’S ADVENTURE TO A FAIR-TRADE, SUSTAINABLE FASHION BUSINESS STARTED WHEN SHE CHOSE TO CARE
Fashion can be brilliant, beautiful, and amazing. It can bring a sense of our inner identities into the outside world. It can help us feel confident, sexy, fun, colorful, powerful, calm, and comfortable – it can elevate our state of being in a wide range of ways. But fashion in our current cultural epoch has a really dark, polluting, earth-destroying side.
Karoline, founder and CEO of Fairlytalle.com is doing her part within her power and passion to let us access the joys of fashion while building a better future at the same time. Her story gives me hope that there is always something we can do when we have the courage to stand up, take action, and do it.
Here is Karoline’s earth-forward fashion story! -BB
Karoline’s story is our twelfth story of hope in the Limitless 2020 Earth Day Hope Raiser (like a fundraiser, but for hope)! Join us every day until Earth Day (April 22), as we share 22 hope-inspiring stories of the adventures everyday people across our planet are taking to build a better future on a thriving earth.
Karoline is doing what she can within her power to provide realistic fashion alternatives for those who want to stop supporting fast fashion.
When it comes to building a better future, I am doing everything I can while respecting my limits and the limits of those around me. It is very easy to get overwhelmed with everything we do ”wrong” socially and environmentally speaking. I feel that radical changes where we cut out all of the things we’ve become accustomed to in a “cold turkey” kinda way is not sustainable. So, I pick my battles, acknowledge my capacity, and hope others will do the same with different issues. I try to be aware of what I buy, replace everything that can be replaced by a more eco-friendly option, I recycle, I avoid the use of plastic, I buy organic when I can, etc….
Right now, sustainable fashion is the battle I picked and is my way to create solutions to one of the most heavily polluting industries on our earth. I created Fairlytalle Store for 2 main reasons: to raise awareness of what goes on with the production of our clothes and to provide realistic alternatives to those who feel like changing.
Karoline’s journey to Fairlytalle started with a corporate social responsibility course, and escalated when she left a greenwashing startup.
My journey to my interest in these issues and to Fairlytalle Store started in 2012. I had a Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) teacher in Paris that brought my attention to the environmental and social impact of the Shell oil spills in Nigeria. After this moment, I started looking at corporations with different eyes. I realized my money had power, and that I wasn’t okay with my money going to do things like that to those in vulnerable situations.
The Rana Plaza accident, where a building housing garment factories collapsed killing more than a 1,000 people and injuring more than 2,000, turned my eyes toward the disasters and horrors of the fashion industry as a whole. Buying cute, cheap clothes became shameful to me. I realized most of the people I knew had no idea, and couldn’t change if they weren’t informed.
While this awareness got me started, the big push to start Fairlytalle was after I worked for a startup in Paris. They advertised themselves as a B-corp sustainable company, but they weren’t sustainable at all. With no respect for people whatsoever, it was by far the worst place I had ever worked, as it contradicted most of my values. I realized that if I wanted something to be done socially and environmentally correctly, I had to put myself out there and do it myself. So I left.
Karoline’s very first step was also very simple – she chose to care.
My very first step to Fairlytalle store was choosing to care. From that decision, it was a long process of taking small steps towards who I wanted to become. Starting with that class in 2012, I decided to get my master’s in CSR, then found jobs in the area, I kept learning and kept informed so I could engage people with facts instead of opinions and judgement. I traveled the world to get inspired. There was no magical overnight transformation, it all happened little by little, and sometimes it took all I had to keep moving forward.
Karoline’s adventure required her to accept herself and accept she needed to be the change.
Once I decided to change the way I did things, there were many struggles. My first struggle was in my head. I had to find a balance between sustainability, practicality and comfort. I had to learn and accept that I couldn’t do everything, but I could do everything I can. My emotional struggle got better when I acknowledged that it is okay not be perfect so long as I am giving it my best.
Another huge struggle was finding a job that would make me feel whole on this journey. Whatever I ended up doing for big companies related to their CSR felt like it was too small to really make change. I overcame this struggle by creating a job for myself that I wanted to do.
Once I committed to creating Fairlytalle, all by myself, resources became (and still are) a big challenge. Finding the time, the money, and the expertise to do everything that my company needs is, no doubt, a real struggle. I’m learning to overcome this struggle by delegating what I can to people that want to help.
Of course, I still have a long way to go in this last struggle, but I believe that the solution will come in time. I also believe that we are always growing into new challenges that make our struggles evolve. You can’t advance without overcoming challenges. My struggles have taught me to be patient. I’ve learned that if I give my best and do my work from my heart, people will see what I’ve done, and I will accomplish something – even if it’s not what I first set out to do. I’ve learned to become flexible and open to change as well.
But I think the most important thing I’ve learned from all my struggles is not to judge myself or others and to always be kind, because we all come to action in our own time.
Karoline is proud that she had the courage to make a change, step up, and not give up.
When I look back on my journey to Fairlytalle store, I am proud of having the courage to step up and take action, instead of just complaining. I’m proud to have inspired people to change, even if it’s just a little bit. I’m proud to be building something that will, hopefully, make lives better all over the world.
I’m so glad I had the courage to quit my awful green/social-washing job, even when my financial situation was complicated, and I’m happy I grabbed the opportunity to change the pain from that experience into something beautiful with the support of strangers and people I love.
All the positive messages I got from people when I thought that maybe I should give up is definitely what kept – and keeps – me going.
Karoline’s Advice to You
- Try to find what motivates you the most and don’t let the struggles stop you from moving forward.
- Be patient and be kind to yourself and others.
- Be creative, find different ways to do things if the way you imagined is not working.
- Do your best, that will definitely be enough.
- Start small.
- Get informed.
- Ask for help.
- Change one thing at a time.
- Find new ways to do old things and go the extra mile when you are ready.
Thank You Karoline!
Thank you for doing what you can within your power, and letting the journey take you where it’s going to take you! Thank you for making organic and fair trade clothing accessible. Thank you for the depth of your transparency, and for taking care of everyone along your supply chain and our earth. We are rooting for you!!
Love skirts, dresses, t-shirts, jewellery accessories, bags and wallets AND super fun prints … and you don’t want to exploit people or our earth when you buy them?
Fairlytalle Store has got you more than covered.