Hi everyone! Spiffy here, your favorite interplanetary journalist reporting from Planet Earth with an eye on entrepreneurs creating opportunities for responsible consumption and production. Today I’m going to learn about how Alexandra McNair Quinn is making toxic fashion a thing of the past. Join me as I welcome Alexandra, founder of Fashion FWD.
Spiffy: Welcome Alexandra, it’s great to have the chance to talk to you. Can you tell me about Fashion FWD and what challenges you’re addressing?
Alexandra: Thanks so much for having me, Spiffy! Consumption and production are the driving sources of our global economy. But why can’t they still work in a way that protects workers, the environment, the community, and consumer health? We believe they can! I am addressing the challenge of motivating our fashion industry to move away from harmful chemicals. We are focused on raising awareness by educating people about safe, nontoxic apparel. We want to help consumers make informed purchases that protect both them and their families — which is why we created the first-ever online marketplace solely focused on safe, certified, nontoxic apparel. I think we have something just your size, Spiffy!
Spiffy: Really? Awww, thanks, Alexandra! This sounds like a unique approach. Can you tell me what motivated you to address these concerns and educate others?
Alexandra: Well, Spiffy, I was living in New York City in 2013 when I had the opportunity to support some of the largest fashion brands to improve their social, ethical, and environmental impact. I quickly learned that they were very concerned about the toxic chemicals embedded in their apparel and the detrimental impact on their international workers and consumers. I wanted to learn more. The more I learned, the more I realized how we live in an age of unprecedented toxic chemical exposure. Industrial and synthetic chemicals are rooted within the products we use each day. Once you know that something is causing harm — and nothing is being done about it — it's hard to turn back.
Spiffy: That’s for sure. With that in mind, how are you working at creating a more equitable world?
Alexandra: We seek to create a supportive apparel marketplace by providing educational content around responsible consumption and production. We work to educate through resources, assessments, and DIY videos. Our 2021 goal is to continue to drive sustainable, safer consumption and production practices (SDG #12). We also want to show that making small sustainable changes is easy. And fun! We recently launched our online marketplace where we feature a variety of nontoxic children's brands that meet the highest safety standards — and are gearing up for the launch of a dozen new resources, tools, and videos to launch this spring!
Spiffy: I can’t wait to check it out! Do you have any recent milestones you can tell me about?
Alexandra: We just launched our first Fashion FWD Ambassador Program at the University of Texas at Austin, where we’ll work with tomorrow’s leaders to educate and resource their campus. We provide leadership opportunities and equip these students to be Ambassadors for our worthy cause. Through our monthly educational gatherings and activities, these students are vital toward spreading the message about safe apparel beyond the campus walls. We look forward to expanding this program into other universities and colleges throughout the nation.
Members of the Fashion FWD chapter at the University of Texas at Austin. (Image courtesy of Alexandra McNair Quinn)
Spiffy: Wow, that’s exciting! I imagine others are going to jump at the chance! One last question for you. Can you share about an experience when you faced failure and didn't give up? What did you discover?
Alexandra: Sure Spiffy! Since starting the organization, I thought raising funds would be a piece of cake. Flash forward to our second year — I was still not bringing in the funds we needed. I quickly learned that to help others be sustainable, first I had to be sustainable. This kept me focused (not distracted by potential opportunities) and I focused on my grant writing. Through all the hard work, we were rewarded by winning the very first grant we applied for — and were able to invest those funds into the success of key projects that will help us become more sustainable in the long term.
Spiffy: Focus is key, right Alexandra? Thanks so much for taking the time to talk to me about your passion, and how you are taking it to the world through Fashion FWD. It’s been an honor!
Fashion FWD founder, Alexandra McNair Quinn, is an advocate in the international dialogue to turn fashion lovers into conscious consumers through education and action. She is committed to shedding light on the hidden epidemic of harmful chemicals in the very clothing people wear to protect human and environmental health.