People 17 January 2019
Established around the mission to set a new standard for clothing, using technical fabrics, a conscious supply chain (direct-to-consumer) and innovative production process, ADAY and its founders quickly gained recognition for disrupting the fashion industry with their minimalist, meaningful designs.
ADAY's latest label, Plant Bae, is an ode to their commitment to unique production and a responsible standard, combining beech trees and seaweed to create their first plant-based fabric.
“We're continually challenging ourselves to innovate further towards a sustainable supply chain and are always exploring new resources to potentially use," says ADAY's founders, Meg He and Nina Faulhaber. Both He and Faulhaber believe in the ability to do more with less, which is also why they developed ADAY to simplify the common woman wardrobe hurdles.
The fabric is MicroModal, from the wood pulp of beech trees, blended with Icelandic seaweed fibers. Garnering inspiration from the environment spotlights both the opportunity to utilize renewable resources, as well as the positive effect of harvesting seaweed as a carbon-negative activity.
Available in three tops, the tank, t-shirt, and turtleneck satisfy the seasonal wardrobe staples and maintain ADAY's mission of simplicity. We caught up with He and Faulhaber to learn more about the motivation behind the collection, sourcing the correct materials to create Plant Bae's fabrics (which are insanely soft) and how this eco-conscious decision goes way beyond fashion.
Sustainability has always been at the forefront of ADAY's mission, but when did you decide to take it a step further and create clothing from plant-based fabrics?
ADAY: We were looking to create our first plant-based fabric but did not want to use cotton as cotton is not very sustainable. So we embarked on a journey to find a more sustainable alternative. ADAY's first plant-based fabric is a sustainable MicroModal derived from wood pulp from beech trees blended with Icelandic seaweed fibers. It's a blend that's 90% plant based with its main ingredients being sustainably sourced and manmade made (cellulosics).
Tell me about the process and the challenges to take it from paper to production?
ADAY: Our process starts with intentional design fusing simplicity and versatility. Marrying classic silhouettes with clean lines, we include only the details that are truly necessary. With each new design, we ask: How will we make our favorite staples better? How will we make them last?
Instead of following seasonal trends, we spend our time perfecting the pieces our customers love through wear-testing, customer feedback + experimentation. This allows us to keep improving each of our pieces so they can be loved even more.
What made you decide to source beech trees and seaweed for this first collection? Were there other resources considered?
ADAY: We wanted a fabric that was comfortable, soft and versatile yet felt luxurious, and matched our sustainability requirements.
MicroModal from beachwood trees is derived in a closed-loop system and has proven to be a more sustainable and better alternative to cotton. On top of that seaweed is a fun and versatile plant we are excited by. Most of the world's oxygen (about 70%) comes from seaweed, and it also makes up roughly nine tenths of all the plant-like life on Earth. Many seaweeds also contain anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial agents.
Even though the seaweed content itself is small (it acts more of a “booster" ingredient) we love that the collection shines a light on this important renewable resource.
Photo Courtesy of ADAY
Why was Plant Bae an important next step for the company?
ADAY: The collection shines a light on an important renewable resource: seaweed ecosystems are carbon-negative, and can take up to 20 times more carbon dioxide emissions out of the air than land-based forests.
And why is sustainability so important to you outside the company?
Nina: After buying a lot in my teens, and getting rid of a ton of stuff in my twenties, I adopted a much more minimalist mindset, caring more about experiences than the things I owned. With that, I also started to think a lot more about great product design and ADAY—and our beautifully minimal, yet versatile capsule—became the ultimate minimalist's dream. A few months after launching ADAY, a trip into nature, a lot of self reflection and reading two books (“Let My People Go Surfing" by Yves Chouinard and “The Upcycle" by Michael Braungart and William McDonough) truly opened my eyes about the impact business can have. Now, I couldn't imagine creating a product or company that wasn't focus on creating a better future.
Meg: In everything we do at ADAY, we consciously choose it. I think that's so important in how we live—that we choose how each part of our life fits into who we are. My partner and I made a choice this year to buy an old yellow school bus and reuse it—to convert it into a mobile, 198-square-foot solar powered home. This choice, of reuse and sustainability and custom design and self-build, made so much more sense to us than renting an apartment.
Women have come a long way in redefining beauty to be more inclusive of different body types, skin colors and hair styles, but society's beauty standards still remain as high as we have always known them to be. In the workplace, professionalism is directly linked to the appearance of both men and women, but for women, the expectations and requirements needed to fit the part are far stricter. Unlike men, there exists a direct correlation between beauty and respect that women are forced to acknowledge, and in turn comply with, in order to succeed.
Before stepping foot into the workforce, women who choose to opt out of conventional beauty and grooming regiments are immediately at a disadvantage. A recent Forbes article analyzing the attractiveness bias at work cited a comprehensive academic review for its study on the benefits attractive adults receive in the labor market. A summary of the review stated, "'Physically attractive individuals are more likely to be interviewed for jobs and hired, they are more likely to advance rapidly in their careers through frequent promotions, and they earn higher wages than unattractive individuals.'" With attractiveness and success so tightly woven together, women often find themselves adhering to beauty standards they don't agree with in order to secure their careers.
Complying with modern beauty standards may be what gets your foot in the door in the corporate world, but once you're in, you are expected to maintain your appearance or risk being perceived as unprofessional. While it may not seem like a big deal, this double standard has become a hurdle for businesswomen who are forced to fit this mold in order to earn respect that men receive regardless of their grooming habits. Liz Elting, Founder and CEO of the Elizabeth Elting Foundation, is all too familiar with conforming to the beauty culture in order to command respect, and has fought throughout the course of her entrepreneurial journey to override this gender bias.
As an internationally-recognized women's advocate, Elting has made it her mission to help women succeed on their own, but she admits that little progress can be made until women reclaim their power and change the narrative surrounding beauty and success. In 2016, sociologists Jaclyn Wong and Andrew Penner conducted a study on the positive association between physical attractiveness and income. Their results concluded that "attractive individuals earn roughly 20 percent more than people of average attractiveness," not including controlling for grooming. The data also proves that grooming accounts entirely for the attractiveness premium for women as opposed to only half for men. With empirical proof that financial success in directly linked to women's' appearance, Elting's desire to have women regain control and put an end to beauty standards in the workplace is necessary now more than ever.
Although the concepts of beauty and attractiveness are subjective, the consensus as to what is deemed beautiful, for women, is heavily dependent upon how much effort she makes towards looking her best. According to Elting, men do not need to strive to maintain their appearance in order to earn respect like women do, because while we appreciate a sharp-dressed man in an Armani suit who exudes power and influence, that same man can show up to at a casual office in a t-shirt and jeans and still be perceived in the same light, whereas women will not. "Men don't have to demonstrate that they're allowed to be in public the way women do. It's a running joke; show up to work without makeup, and everyone asks if you're sick or have insomnia," says Elting. The pressure to look our best in order to be treated better has also seeped into other areas of women's lives in which we sometimes feel pressured to make ourselves up in situations where it isn't required such as running out to the supermarket.
So, how do women begin the process of overriding this bias? Based on personal experience, Elting believes that women must step up and be forceful. With sexism so rampant in workplace, respect for women is sometimes hard to come across and even harder to earn. "I was frequently assumed to be my co-founder's secretary or assistant instead of the person who owned the other half of the company. And even in business meetings where everyone knew that, I would still be asked to be the one to take notes or get coffee," she recalls. In effort to change this dynamic, Elting was left to claim her authority through self-assertion and powering over her peers when her contributions were being ignored. What she was then faced with was the alternate stereotype of the bitchy executive. She admits that teetering between the caregiver role or the bitch boss on a power trip is frustrating and offensive that these are the two options businesswomen are left with.
Despite the challenges that come with standing your ground, women need to reclaim their power for themselves and each other. "I decided early on that I wanted to focus on being respected rather than being liked. As a boss, as a CEO, and in my personal life, I stuck my feet in the ground, said what I wanted to say, and demanded what I needed – to hell with what people think," said Elting. In order for women to opt out of ridiculous beauty standards, we have to own all the negative responses that come with it and let it make us stronger– and we don't have to do it alone. For men who support our fight, much can be achieved by pushing back and policing themselves and each other when women are being disrespected. It isn't about chivalry, but respecting women's right to advocate for ourselves and take up space.
For Elting, her hope is to see makeup and grooming standards become an optional choice each individual makes rather than a rule imposed on us as a form of control. While she states she would never tell anyone to stop wearing makeup or dressing in a way that makes them feel confident, the slumping shoulders of a woman resigned to being belittled looks far worse than going without under-eye concealer. Her advice to women is, "If you want to navigate beauty culture as an entrepreneur, the best thing you can be is strong in the face of it. It's exactly the thing they don't want you to do. That means not being afraid to be a bossy, bitchy, abrasive, difficult woman – because that's what a leader is."
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