Hello, welcome to my first blog post! This is something I have been meaning to do for a while now so that I can share with you all my thought and design processes as well as give you a look behind the scenes.
This past year has been a whirlwind, from showing at Nashville Fashion Week to going to Copenhagen for the Fashion Summit. That's right, I finally got to go to the Copenhagen Fashion Summit! It's a global conference focusing on sustainability within the fashion industry and it has been on my bucket list for years.
This opportunity was only made possible by the Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee and Nashville Fashion Week. They established the Nashville Fashion Forward Fund in 2011 which was created to support the next generation of creatives with ties to Middle Tennessee.
Every year since it was created I had thought about applying. And fun fact, I had actually put together an application in 2015, but never submitted it! I knew I wasn't ready and that my application was not yet strong enough. Recently, I had come across it going through my documents and read it over. Guess what? I was right, that first application was definitely was not a strong enough. But, what was interesting was that I had applied to use the fund for the exact same thing, to go to the fashion summit in Copenhagen.
But, last year was different. I had officially launched my brand and website so I finally felt ready to apply. I had no expectations of winning. I had heard that many people had to apply multiple times so I just thought this will be the building block and I'll apply again next year. No one was more surprised than me when Amy Fair from the Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee called to tell me I had won. I had spent hours every day for a month working on my application so it really meant so much to me that my hard work had paid off and that others saw value in my ideas and business.
Pictured with Amy Fair, Marcia Masulla, and Connie Richardson
The summit was in May and I've been thinking about it ever since. The following is my overall thoughts on my trip, but I will post more about individual topics over the next few weeks. There's a lot to unpack so here goes:
My first thought after getting back from my trip to Copenhagen for the Copenhagen Fashion Summit was “When can I go back?”
The summit which tackles sustainability in the fashion industry was opened with a warm welcome from founder Eva Kruse and a speech from the Crown Princess of Denmark. It brought together global leaders from Katherine Hamnett the original eco warrior to Francois-Henri Pinault CEO of Kering. Everywhere you turned there were change makers and industry heavyweights.
The panel discussions ranged from ethical labor and hidden supply chains to the CEO agenda and the circular economy. What I loved was how interactive the summit was. You didn’t have to stay seated and just listen to panels all day. There were also pitches throughout the day from innovative startups that were so inspiring to see. It was amazing to see that there are people out there creating solutions to specific sustainability issues and not just talking about it. There was also the Innovation Forum where sustainable products and companies presented their solutions. Booths were spread throughout each level of the building so you could meet and speak to them if you wished. I really enjoyed just walking around and speaking to everyone. As it was repeatedly pointed out, we can only move forward if we work together.
Not only was the summit incredible, but exploring Copenhagen was eye opening as well. Recycling was convenient as there are recycling bins on all the streets. They also have a waste incinerator that converts waste to energy. It is so efficient that Copenhagen does not produce enough waste for it to run all year, they have to import waste from other countries! It also produces more clean water than it consumes and claims to be the cleanest incineration plant in the world. Copenhagen’s water is also so clean, you can drink it from the tap. It undergoes strict daily quality controls and is so that there’s no need to add chlorine or other chemicals.
But, what I found the most surprising and inspiring is the government support for sustainable initiatives in Denmark. They actually empower and encourage change that enables solutions for a healthier planet and people. To see the Crown Princess make the opening speech the first day of the summit and the Minister of Finance make the opening speech the second day truly demonstrated how important sustainability is to them as a country and that it can make business sense. They showed that it can be done if we work together and work in the interest of all, not just the some. If only we had the same priorities in the United States!
This was truly an opportunity that I would never have gotten the chance to pursue had it not been for Nashville Fashion Week, the Nashville Fashion Forward Fund, and the Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee. I hope to share what I learned and incorporate as much as I can into my business practices. Just being at the summit and speaking to like minded people was honestly an experience that I have learned so much from and will never forget.