Interview with Redress Raleigh Executive Director, Beth Stewart

"The most helpful aspect of Creative Startups so far has been the access to people to talk to about these ideas... Learning from other people’s experiences has been really helpful in feeling like you are not alone..."  -Beth Stewatd, ED of Redress Raleigh

 

Company:
Redress Raleigh
Interviewee:
Beth Stewart, Executive Director
Co-Founders:
Jamie Scott and Mor Aframian (now board members)
Additional team:
Volunteer team - Carrie Misenheimer, Graphic Designer; Nicole Kligerman, Operations Director; Albert Dinh, Event Coordinator; Mary Fran Thompson, Web Content Manager;
A Board of Directors - 7 current members
Founding Date:
2012
Product Description:
Bringing public awareness and advocacy on the impact of the fahion and textile industires. This is done through hosting an annual ecofashion show and other events and workshops.
Website:
 
Social:
 

 

Ernesto Sue Photography

 

Creative Startups: What does creativity mean to you?

Beth Stewart: I would say to me creativity would mean looking at multiple different perspectives, when either solving a problem or even just making an art piece or laying out a plan or whatever it may be.

CS: What is your background? Where have you focused your creative energy in the past before Redress Raleigh?

BS: My Undergrad degree is actually in Architecture - I spent 5 years in the field of architecture. In addition to just working in the field I volunteered with US green building council at the time because I’ve always had an interest in sustainability and being in that field that was one of the ways that I could  use that passion to do things. Then I took a little detour and spend a tiny bit of time in a keyholder, right under management position, in mainstream retail. And then I decided to go back to school and get my masters in textiles and that was in 2012. At that same time is when redress Raleigh became an actual company and since then I have been focusing mainly on redress raleigh.

 

"..we are encourage people to seek out the responsibility produced fashion because... people aren’t aware of some of the problems in the fashion and textiles industry." -BS

 

 

Ernesto Sue Photography

CS: What product/service are you supplying?

BS: Since we are a Non-profit  it's kind of worded like a mission. We support independent fashion designers through and educational mentorship program, a fashion show and then events that are aimed more at public awareness, advocacy, in terms of understanding the impact of the fashion and textile industries.  It’s in essence all geared towards steering the market towards ethically produced fashion.

CS: Who are your customers?

BS: We really have two different main customers, one of which is the Independent fashion designers who obviously benefit from participating in the educational mentorship program and exposure through the fashion show. And then our customer segment really is people who are interested in either fashion and textiles or sustainability. We have a little bit of two different aspect where some people find us because they really love fashion but they want to find something more unique or they want to support local or more independent designers. We also have the aspect of people who find us because they want to live a more sustainable lifestyle all the way around.

CS: What phase of the design process are you currently in?

BS: We have been around a few years but moving forward we’re really trying to find a sustainable business model. Particularly since we became a non-profit we are working on a model so that the company will continue well into the future.

CS: How long ago did you become a non-profit?

BS: We only became a Non-profit last November. We started out as an S-corporation and then we converted so we’ve only been a non-profit for 9-10 months.

CS: Moving forward what is your next step to provide services to more people?

BS: So we’re still trying to figuring that out to be honest to a certain extent. Being a part of the creative startups program is helping us try to figure that out. This year we slightly changed the way we did our fashion show. In previous years there was no educational or mentorship program so this is the first year we’ve done that and we want to continue doing that for any other fashion shows that we have. We’re looking at possibly having more than one a year or finding other way to get those designers closer to actual production. Because the actual production and offering options to consumers is the best way to continue growing the market for responsible fashion.

CS: Has the introduction to the “design Thinking” modes from the program changed the way you look at the design process at all?  

BS: I don’t know if I’ve changed my viewpoint looking forward because of that. My viewpoint is definitely changed in some ways just by participating in Creative Startups. It's forcing me to think about the more long term things that I have not been able to think about in the past couple of years

CS: What part of the program has been the most influential for you thus far?

BS: The looking into the future and being forced to “do numbers” and to think about potential new revenue streams that fit with our mission has been helpful. But also in saying that the most helpful aspect of Creative Startups so far has been the access to people to talk to about these ideas like Lena, who wrote the book, and just talking to Margaret about somethings. Learning from other people’s experiences has been really helpful in feeling like you are not alone and thinking of new ideas and new possible partnerships or things like that.

CS: What is Redress Raleigh's mission?

BS: Redress Raleigh's mission is that we nurture independent fashion designers and educate people about the impact of their purchasing decisions.

CS: What core problem does your product solve and how is it going to make a difference in the industry?

PO: In terms of the problem that we are solving we are basically addressing the gap that is in between design and production for those independent designers through the education and mentorship program, giving them exposure through the fashion show. Then at the same time we are encourage people to seek out the responsibility produced fashion because the other problem is that people aren’t aware of some of the problems in the fashion and textiles industry.  In terms of making a difference in the industry by helping address the gap we are helping bring the independent designers up to par and increasing their quality. We’re also providing their customers with more options, more ethical options in the market place. So in doing that it will ideally prevent some of the buying of other less sustainable items.