I long for the day when something does not need to be labeled “green,” “sustainable” or “fair trade”—because everything is made with the utmost concern for the environment and everyone around us. Online boutique Future:Standard carries ethical clothing and accessories that embody those values (eco-friendly, fair trade, locally made with respect for planet and people). In the future this will all be standard.
Jessica Althoff founded Future:Standard after realizing that instead of having to choose between her passion for the environment and her love for fashion she could combine the two. I caught up with Jessica to find out a bit about her inspirations, closet staples and what it’s like to be an entrepreneur in the conscious fashion business.
The first thing one comes across when visiting Future:Standard is this statement: “We do not compromise on style and do not think our values should get in the way of looking great.” Can you tell me about the thinking behind that?
When I first started thinking about Future:Standard, I started thinking about the reasons that we don’t all buy ethical clothing all of the time. I realized that often times it is because when given the choice between our appearance and our values, most of the time we will choose our appearance (I am absolutely guilty of this!). So, I wanted to make it clear that Future:Standard values both. We want our customers to feel good about what they are wearing because they look great and because they are buying clothing that reflects their values.
What does sustainable style and eco-fashion mean to you?
Sustainable style is a couple of things. First, it means buying things that you love and will wear for a long time. Buying fewer, higher quality items is really the most sustainable thing we can do. So, my advice—splurge! Buy those shoes you think are too expensive, but will wear for years. Resole them and take care of them. Choose the classic but pricey dress over the cheap one. If you plan to take care of it and wear it until it cannot be worn again, you are really being very sustainable. And it also means making sure that you know a little about what you are buying. Where is it made? Who made it? What is it made of? And then considering the answers and what they mean to the earth and the people on it.
Have you always been an environmentalist or was there a particular moment that light bulb went off in your head?
I have always been an environmentalist. I grew up in Northern California and it is a bit of a lifestyle there. We wore cloth diapers and used cloth napkins. My dad was always telling us to take shorter showers and turn off the lights. We just always understood that there are limited natural resources. I definitely have gotten more concerned as I have gotten older. I have also become more outdoorsy lately, and that makes you really appreciate the environment and how we really must take care of it.
How did Future:Standard start?
Future:Standard was years in the making. It is a true combination of life long dreams, values and separate “aha” moments. I always wanted to own a boutique. Then I heard a conference speaker talk about combining your passions. And so I did.
Do you have a background in fashion?
No, not really, just a strong interest. I worked in retail for years and did an internship with an ethical clothing company.
What advice do you have for other young entrepreneurs looking to launch a conscious business?
You just have to get out there and do it. The time is never going to be perfect, you are never going to know everything, and there will always be doubts. You will be scared! But that is part of the fun. Someone knows the answers, you can just ask. You will figure it out as you go and people love helping young entrepreneurs. I think one of the best parts about being a socially conscious entrepreneur is your peers. So many people want to help and are willing to give you a few minutes of their time. People sometimes forget that the people in their network are so experienced and knowledgeable. I send a “Does anyone know anyone who does/knows…” type of email out at least once a week. Someone always knows someone. If you are considering social entrepreneurship and need something, ask me too! I am not an expert, but I might know someone who is.
What are your favorite brands?
Oh wow, I have a lot of favorites. And for so many different reasons. I LOVE what PACT is doing. They are an ideal company. We don’t carry LaLesso (yet), but I love their look and what they stand for. Right now, I am wearing Erin Kleinberg and Pray for Mother Nature non-stop! There are so many brands that I wish would do a sustainable line so that we can carry it.
Is there anything you think is missing in the world of ethical, sustainable fashion? Something you would like to see more or less of?
Yes! Career wear! It is so important to look great for work and I haven’t really seen anything out there. I’d love it if someone did a beautiful line of suits, slacks, blazers, etc. using sustainable materials. And if someone is already doing it, tell me! Also formal wear, but I don’t know if that is as important of a category.
Who is your ideal customer?
My ideal customer is really anyone who wants to lead a more ethical lifestyle, and do so in a very stylish way. She has strong strong social and environmental values but also really cares about her appearance. She probably is actively looking for ways to green her beauty routine, but can’t part with a certain hair gloss or something. It wouldn’t hurt if she wanted to tell everyone she knows where she gets her clothes!
If you could only keep ten items from your closet, what would they be?
Oooh, this is a tough one. I can’t decide between nostalgia, the items that make me feel fantastic but I rarely wear, or the ones that are “uniform” basics. So here you go…
- My Pray for Mother Nature Jeggings (they are so comfy, they can double as sweats!) and they somehow seem to make my legs look longer!
- These really old Banana Republic boots. I have resoled them and they are definitely showing wear, but they look good with everything and are the perfect shade of cognac.
- I have this tiny little fuschia and purple mini dress that I got in London. It is strapless with the cutest ruffles. It is over the top for me, but I just love it. I feel like I must go out dancing immediately!
- My mom gave me this sequined long sleeved black and green mini dress that she wore in the early 90s. I love it. I only wear it for costume parties, but it is very nostalgic and sooo much fun!
- A plain white tee. Probably have to go with my Topo Ranch one. But I have so many, they are my uniform.
- My best friend gave me a belt that her mom wore in the 70s. It is the ultimate classic belt. I have had it for years and get so many compliments on it. She swears one day she is going to ask for it back. I swear that after 10 years, it is mine for good.
- Every year I get a plain black sweatshirt/cardigan to lounge in. I have to replace them because I wear them so often that by the end of the year they are gray and holy. This year’s is the Cozy Cardi by PI Organics. I seriously cannot get enough of it. It is my uniform.
- My Uggs. So old and comfy.
- Rainbow Flip flops. Same reason as the Uggs, but Uggs are for winter, Rainbows for the rest of the year. I rarely wear anything else unless it is a special occasion.
- A bikini. I don’t really have a favorite, I just need one. I like to spend my lunch hour at the beach as much as possible. I couldn’t live without a bikini. And maybe a beach cover up too.
What does the Good Life mean to you?
To me the Good Life means just being me and being happy. What that translates to is being healthy, making some time for myself and for relaxing, feeling good about my choices (from food to clothing and everything else I buy), and laughing a lot. It also includes a lot of traveling, good food (especially cheese and wine), and most importantly sharing it all with people I love.
Top photo by Found Creative.