Thursday, July 26

inspired by locals: jess from future: standard

I'm continually inspired by those who have been able to create their own business modeled around their passion. If that passion just happens to be working for a cause, my inspired state reaches a whole new level. Jessica Althoff, founder of Future: Standard, has completely blown me away with her heart and mind dedicated to helping the environment through her own online clothing store. Take a peek at what Jess had to say... I promise you won't regret it!

How did you come up with the Future: Standard concept? What was your inspiration? 
A few years ago, while still in grad school, I was at a Net Impact conference. The speaker said something like, "Don't settle. Find a way to combine your passions. If you are really into the rainforest and chocolate, find a chocolate making rainforest saving company. And if it doesn't exist, make it!" I was like, Oh my god! I never thought about that. I should combine clothes and the environment. In addition, I have always thought about where and how my things are made. I always knew a lot about fair trade and was really interested in it. I started to really learn a lot out about "ethical clothing" in 2009 when I had an internship with Pants to Poverty, an ethical underwear company based in London.
Have you ever visited any of the regions abroad that you source your products from?
I have. Unrelated to Future:Standard. I have. We have a few things made in China, India, Mexico, & Brazil. My travels are part of the reason that ethical clothing and an ethical lifestyle are important to me. Once you see the impact that an unethical item has on someone on the other side of the globe, you think a little differently about your personal choices. 

Why do you think purchasing ethical products is important?
There is no reason why things we eat, wear, and use in any way should harm anyone in the making. If I am causing harm, just to look good, then I need to find something else to wear.

How do you choose and find products to sell in your store?
I spent a lot of time doing research before I launched it. After that, I just started asking around. Unfortunately, there isn't that much out there, so everyone knows everyone else. I got a lot of suggestions from the designers. It seems to be growing and every time I go to market week there are a few new brands.

Why do you think living in San Diego is so special? What local businesses do you frequent? 
The beach! My friends and family are here. I go to the OB & Little Italy Farmer's Markets almost every week, and definitely have a few favorites there (Green Fix!), I live in Point Loma, so recently have been eating at Harbor Town a bit. I just discovered this food truck, Recess, that I love. I love Tender Greens in Point Loma.

What do you think is the hardest part starting your own business? Going from the idea phase to actually getting the courage to doing it. It is a risk, and there are times when it is really scary, but it is worth it. There are a lot of extreme highs and lows.

How has the public and your customers reacted to your business? So far so good. A lot of times, I need to explain what ethical clothing means to me. Which is good, because it gets people thinking about their clothes. If they are already thinking about ethical clothes, they get excited about it. And then they get an opportunity to see that just because something is ethical does not mean it is even a tiny bit less beautiful.

What projects are you currently working on?
We are hosting our first Shop Good event this weekend, and I would love for this to turn into something that we do regularly. I love the idea of giving other ethical brands (like 31 Bits and Sseko Designs, who will both be there on Sunday) more exposure. 

How do you intend to grow your business? What would be your ideal goal for Future: Standard?
I'd really like F:S to be more of a lifestyle shop than just women's clothing. I love shoes, so that might be the next step. Or menswear. 

If you could offer one piece of advice to someone hoping to start a sustainable or ethical organization, what would it be and why?
Just do it. There are always reasons not to. Always. But, you just have to, one day, say to yourself, ok, I am ready to start.


Shannon said...

I love that the clothing is ethical and beautiful. What a wonderful interview. I'm so happy to have discovered her shop. :)

Stacy Stockdale said...

Very cool, interesting & definitely inspiring!

Kelley Spurlock said...

This is way too cool! Clothes that save the world. I'm picturing a cape. I know it's more than that... but that's what I'm picturing.

Meagan Murtagh said...

so glad i found this chick! thanks for sharing!!

xo the egg out west. said...

What a great feature, I love ethical clothing! I love finding women who are passionate about what they believe in and following their dreams. :) Thanks Allie!


Jessica said...

Thank you Allie for posting this! It so nice to see other ladies that are into ethical clothing!