Sarah Hamilton, Founder and CEO of Holen Apparel

It all started when my little sister, Mary Jane, sent me The Global Uprising Against Poverty Wages, a book that featured garment workers in Bangladesh.

Mary Jane was studying Cultural Anthropologie at UCLA and one of her classes highlighted this book. It featured a series of interviews of (mainly women) workers who made clothes in poorly kept factories getting paid next to nothing. These women would work tirelessly on beautiful garments for large companies like Zara and H&M. The hardship that these workers go through, the lack of pay, safety, and workers' rights were eye-opening for me.

Like most of us, I grew up feeding the fast fashion monster. I'd go to Zara almost religiously to check out what their latest drop was. I'd score a $25 dress, wear it for a few months, throw it away when it ripped, and then go buy another one in a new style. This was the norm.

It wasn't until I started Holen Apparel that I got a behind-the-scenes view of the fashion industry. I'd visit beautiful showrooms filled with cheap clothes made out of mircoplastics. The sales reps would brag about how their big accounts like Nordstrom and Anthropology would buy their clothes and 4x the price. If a wholesaler sells a pant to Anthropology for $23 and Anthropology sells them for $135...how much is the person who made that garment getting paid? Pennies I'm sure.

A year into business Mary Jane sent me that book, it changed my life (dramatic I know, but true). It made me cry, and to be honest, writing this blog now...thinking about the contents of that article still makes me tear up. I realized that as a business owner I have the reasonability to...well...be responsible. I came to the conclusion that I didn't want to add to the waste and harm of the fashion industry. I wanted to be and do better.

This is when the change started.

Written by Sarah Hamilton

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