“Poverty is unnecessary, and social business is the solution”, says Megan Doepker, founder of UNA Fashion. I had the opportunity to interview this true social entrepreneur at the One Young World Summit in Pittsburgh.
Megan’s education in finance, her expertise in foreign direct investment research and a firm passion for sustainability, have proven to be the right combination to establish a cause driven fashion label. The two‐fold mission of UNA Fashion is to commit to sustainable and ethical design while helping foster the movement for conscious consumerism.
UNA Fashion Campaign – Fashion the Change
The concept for UNA Fashion, and the philosophy to “Fashion the Change”, are the culmination of Megan’s travels through Asia, Central America and India, where she saw first-hand the impact of the disposable fashion industry, and the opportunity to use fashion as a platform for sustainable development.
Megan spent 5 months in India this year seeking out high quality eco-materials and artisans. The organizations crafting the original designs are fair-trade certified, with missions that excel beyond the World Trade Organizations fair trade principles. One of the groups she sources from empowers women rescued from the sex trade in Kolkata.
Another group brings together artisans from diverse marginalized backgrounds, and they work together at a development centre located on 8 acres of organic farmland. The organizations provide more than fair employment; they empower the artisans through social programs such as healthcare, education and savings.
The Unique Selling Point
The debut collection of bags and scarves are made with eco-leather, silk, and organic cotton, sourced near the artisans to lessen the environmental footprint. The revolutionary eco-leather, free from chrome, heavy metal and harsh chemicals, has been developed in collaboration between European experts and an Indian tannery. UNA Fashion is the first brand in North America to offer the eco-leather. It’s evident there has been a lot of consideration for people and the planet along the supply chain.
During our sit down interview Megan confidently explained “I’m always asking myself how each piece of the UNA Fashion business model can best maximizing the social impact, while minimizing the environmental impact.”
The unique offering of eco leather bags has great potential, which Megan has cleverly branded as “ModPacks”. The bags are perfect for travelling, biking, a night on the town, and simply put, any occasion you’d like to have your hands free. Megan loves the messenger bags and thinks it’s a staple every student and young professional should have. The messenger bags appeals to both men and women.
She also says a warm scarf is her favorite cold weather accessory. The blend of mulberry and tussar silk make UNA Fashion’s scarves, which are a chic twist on a bandanna, perfectly cozy. There’s an air of practicality amongst the line. UNA Fashionoffers shoulder bags also capable of attaching to bike cross bars or handlebars and a ModPack designed to also be a clutch and shoulder bag.
UNA Fashion – Look Good While Doing Good
This is only the beginning for Megan and UNA Fashion. While she currently works with established and reputable not-for- profit organizations and fair trade groups, she will expand at a grass roots level. She’s developing a sustainable business model to break the cycle of extreme poverty in India. UNA Fashion will continue to create durable, timeless designs, adhering to the principles of the slow fashion movement. Megan explains how last year more than 80 billion garments were produced using a myriad of over 8,000 chemicals, because of the demand from the disposable fashion industry, also known as fast fashion.
She hopes one day ethical fashion will be synonymous with “fashion”, and has a firm belief as global citizens, it is our responsibility to make choices that leave our planet in better condition for future generations.
Your Call to Action
She has turned to the power of the crowds for the launch of UNA Fashion. Megan wants you to be part of the movement to fashion the change by backing her Indiegogo campaign to raise funds and awarness. I encourage our readers who equally care about the latest styles in fashion and being socially aware to further explore the many of the faces and stories behind the products at UNA Fashion.
Megan concluded the discussion by describing how “Fashion is an expression, and with UNA Fashion you’re making a style statement while having a positive impact on people and our planet.”