In this interview, we are talking to Liz O’Meara, who is the founder of ethical brand Ethical Souls. Find out more information about Online Personal Stylist’s Ethical Style Project and how you can take part.
Liz O’Meara is the creator of Ethical Souls. Having started her fashion career as a part-time stylist and blogger, she later felt an urge to own her own boutique. Over time, Liz became more concerned with the ingredients used in food and also in beauty products that she was using at the time. This concern also spread to her clothing too – and after feeling increasingly uneasy about where her clothes originated from, how they were made and how ethical the production process really was. This is when Liz deciding to launch Ethical Souls – a unique fashion boutique that supplies stylish, on-trend fashion and beauty items that are ethical, fair trade and natural without sacrificing style or coolness.
- Hello Liz, thank you for taking part in this interview for Online Personal Stylist. Could you tell us about your company Ethical Souls? What do you do and what do you offer?
Ethical Souls Boutique is the name of my online business. It offers ethically made women’s clothing, accessories and natural beauty products
- Describe a typical day for you at work…
I actually have a full time job too so my online business occupies my evenings and weekends. Typically evenings are processing orders for the courier the following morning and updating social media. Weekends is where I manage my stock levels, ordering stock, updating website, my accounts etc. Also I am always scoping out new ethical brands to stock so I would spend a good chunk of the weekend reaching out to potential suppliers.
- How did the idea to start your company come about?
I have always had a strong passion for fashion. Having begun my fashion journey as a part time stylist and blogger there was always an urge within me to own my own boutique. Initially, I began to become more conscious of the food I ate and the beauty products I used, especially the ingredients they contained. Eventually, the search for a more simplistic lifestyle evolved into clothing. It became more and more apparent to me that I didn’t know where my clothes came from or who made them? In addition, I found that it wasn’t easy to find ethical clothing in Cork. As a result of this, I began to make my dream of owning my own boutique a reality and Ethical Souls was born!
- How are the materials used to make your products ethical? How can we shop ethically on a budget? What should we look for if we want to invest in high quality fashion items made from ethically sourced materials?
Most of the suppliers I work with use organic material but that isn’t the main factor for me. The main factor is that the suppliers use ethical practices when it comes to their employees. My suppliers must follow the ethos that their employees are paid fairly, working in a safe environment and are not subjected to any slave labour what so ever.
Shopping ethically on a budget is actually easier than you think. Firstly, look at what you already have. The majority of people’s wardrobes are brimming with beautiful clothes waiting to be worn. Go through your closet and wear what you have. If it doesn’t suit you, have it recycled or sent to a charity shop or give it to somebody who would love it. Do a styling course or work with a personal stylist to understand what suits you. Then buy essentials ethically once you understand your style and what suits you and buy pieces that are versatile and can be worn over and over again in every season. You shouldn’t have to shop every week or every month for that matter. Wear what you have! I will guarantee you, you will have more than enough already sitting in your wardrobe. Find a brilliant alterations shop and repair what you have or re-style what you have. Don’t like the frills on a dress? Have them removed! Don’t like how something sits on you have it altered. Broke that zip on that skirt, have it replaced. Broke that heel on your shoes, have it replaced by a cobbler.
Eventually, you will then need to replace something. Then when you do, you do it ethically and find a piece that you will love to wear over and over again because it suits your style. There is a reason why the fashion industry is called ‘Fast’ because it isn’t supposed to last and is usually of poor quality and won’t stand the test of time. Essentials (items you wear every day) should be bought ethically as the quality is better.
When you are looking for items that will last look for cotton, rayon, tencel and preferably organic it’s kinder on your skin.
- From your professional point of view, could you give us a brief guide to ethical equivalents of well known materials used to make fashion items, i.e. leather, fur, wool, etc. Which materials should we be looking out for?
As mentioned above I look for 100% organic cotton, tencel or rayon. When it’s organic you don’t any GMO’s, pesticides or insecticides which would be typically found in non organic clothing which leaches out slowly and into your skin.
- As you know, this interview is part of The Online Personal Stylist’s project: “The Ethical Style Project”, which aims to help and encourage others with their transition towards ethical fashion. What tips and advice would you give to those who are about to start their ethical style journey?
Two years ago I did not shop ethically, but since I have it’s been an exciting journey discovery beautiful clothes that not everyone has as they are not available on the high street. People Tree, Thought, Komodo Clothing are some to name a few ethical online shops. Instagram is a great source to find ethical shops either online or near you just #ethicalclothing and you will come across some fab ethical boutiques.
Find out more about Ethical Souls here: