We have all heard the word Ethical, and we all know the term, but all the different information often leaves us wondering how ethical can it actually be? So we asked the question. How ethical is Ethical Yacht Wear?
For some of us, the challenge of working in the superyacht industry is enough, but others need more. Today we speak with Lauren Wardley. Lauren has only recently left her full-time stewardess position onboard (60m) M/Y Samadhi after 2.5 years on board. During this, she launched Ethical Yacht Wear because she noticed a gap in the uniform market. We interviewed Lauren today to find out more about her brand and just how ethical it is.
Lauren, tell us about your background and how you got into the industry?
Before working in the yachting industry, I worked in various hospitality jobs, from bartending to hotel management. I have always had a passion for customer service, so it only seemed fitting to combine my love for hospitality and the ocean and enter the yachting industry.
My first position was a deck/stew role on a 108ft Benetti. I started applying for jobs before I completed my STCW. I was due to finish my course on Friday and got a call on Wednesday asking if I could leave for New York on Saturday. That’s right; I was on my way to New York on Saturday! I couldn’t believe it when I landed my first job so quickly.
How did you manage your time between being a stewardess whilst starting your own business?
I had a fantastic crew! They wanted nothing more than to watch me achieve my goals and dreams. It was because of them I could establish and work on Ethical Yacht Wear. However, it also took a lot of self-discipline, sacrifice and time management!
When and where did the journey begin? What inspired you to create Ethical Yacht Wear?
Ethical Yacht Wear is now two years old, and I can’t believe what it has achieved in that time! The idea stemmed from another ocean giving back brand I owned. I sold my branded organic cotton t-shirts to sponsor ocean clean up, which has now developed into Ethical Yacht Wear.
My inspiration for Ethical Yacht Wear came from wanting to provide a not so environmentally friendly industry with an environmentally friendly solution to a global issue (the garment industry). It has also always been my dream to create a circular, giving back business.
We give back by providing a sustainable solution that does not affect our oceans adversely (like regular clothing), and through a percentage of profits, Ethical Yacht Wear sponsors ocean clean up and research, as well as aids in reducing poverty in coastal communities.
So who helps you run Ethical Yacht Wear? Surely you can’t do this all on your own?
I am the sole person running Ethical Yacht Wear! I employ the help of freelancers online regarding things like web development and SEO, as this is not an area of my expertise. However, leaving my last position on M/Y Samadhi, I have taken the leap to focus on Ethical Yacht Wear full time, and there are big plans on the horizon!
When you started Ethical Yacht Wear, did you see it expanding as much as it has?
I had no idea! I didn’t know how it would develop, and I am so proud of how it turned out. It is incredible to see that so many people in the superyacht industry embrace sustainability as part of life and want to make changes to reduce their impact on the planet.
Has the COVID-19 Pandemic affected Ethical Yacht Wear?
It has, although this has given me a great opportunity to work on a lot of back of house projects, and since taking the leap to work on the company full time, I am so very excited to see what the future has in store for us!
What is the most significant milestone for Ethical Yacht Wear so far?
There are several I can think of, but the one I am most proud of is that we have sponsored the removal of 4 tonnes (the equivalent to 200,000 500ml plastic bottles) out of the ocean to date. We have done this by helping pay people in poorer nations to collect this plastic as jobs; this, in turn, increases their livelihood and helps reduce poverty.
I am also so proud that Ethical Yacht wear provides an easily accessible, sustainable solution to a global pollution issue (the garment industry).
Do you design the clothes yourself?
Yes! As we know, there is not a lot of room to move with a uniform. However, I have just designed our first line of eco shorts and skorts just about to launch!
We offer all of our clients a bespoke service where you can design elements of your yacht uniform – if you need a custom design, style or colour that you cannot find, this service comes in perfectly.
Where are your clothes sourced? Do you know they are coming from an ethical factory?
I have spent a lot of time researching this, and it is scary how many clothes produced are made as cheaply as possible for the western world. All Ethical Yacht Wears Clothes are from sustainable, fair trade factories!
At the moment, Europe and India are the two places I am sourcing from.
So, what makes your clothes so ethical?
First of all, every item we supply is made from organic cotton. Regular cotton farms are sprayed with large amounts of toxic pesticides and fertilisers, which run off into the ocean, creating large dead zones (areas of the ocean where sea life has died out and can no longer exist). We make sure we do not contribute to this by only using organic cotton.
If we use any other material, it is also a sustainable material or recycled material, so we are not introducing any new material into an already saturated garment industry.
Finally, every person making the uniform is paid a fair wage and provided proper, safe, and clean working conditions, which is rare to come by in the garment industry.
If all yachts turned to Ethical Yacht Wear, will Organic Cotton remain a sustainable way to supply the industry?
Absolutely! Organic cotton reduces toxic ocean runoff and helps protect aquatic life: the more people that use organic cotton, the better.
What are your goals for the next year?
To continue refining and growing Ethical Yacht Wear into a uniform company that every boat buys their uniform from, with a mind to make changes for the better.
We don’t charge a premium, so we can make this sustainable uniform available to everyone! We will also hold clean-ups, events, and other excellent ocean awareness and ocean saving initiatives.
Crew often get stuck with a lot of old and damaged uniforms. What is your advice for those looking to get rid of it? What is the most environmentally friendly way to deal with old clothing?
I always believe in giving clothing to people in need. However, if crew are worried about printed logos, the best solution I have recently come across is this fantastic company called TerraCycle which provides a solution to recycling anything! Regarding clothing, they either reuse, upcycle or recycle. Or get in touch with us directly, and we will help provide a solution!
Where do you see Ethical yacht wear in 5 years?
As not just a company, but a yachting community that provides sustainable uniform and brings people and yachties alike together to meet up, exchange ideas and make sustainable changes within the industry for the better!
If you’d like to become a part of the Ethical Yacht Wear Community, you can visit their website www.ethicalyachtwear.com to view all their current collections. You can contact the company directly at firstname.lastname@example.org to find out more about how to help our oceans and about the uniforms.
You can also check out their fantastic ambassador club – www.seaambassadors.com that brings all those in the industry that would like to come together to help create change for the better! Check it out for more about how we do this!
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