Emily is the founder and driving force behind Beatrice Bayliss. Here below you can read a full interview with Emily and know more about why she started Beatrice Bayliss and what the brand stands for!
Question #1: Why did you decide to set up a sustainable fashion business and how do you go about creating the different clothing lines? How has your background in fashion design helped you establish Beatrice Bayliss?
Beatrice Bayliss originated from my feelings of frustrations and looking at the damage the fashion industry is making to the planet. I have always been intrigued by sustainability and creating something which could make an impact. For example, in school and university alike, I worked on many projects around waste. I was eager to combine clothing with environmental aspects, so, as soon as I graduated university, I decided to set up my own business, which also coincided with the Covid-19 lockdown in the UK. I have decided to follow my passion for making clothes, alongside offering a solution to counteract the damage which has been done to our beautiful surroundings. I knew I wanted to do something meaningful and that could leave a positive mark. I am very committed to stay true to the Beatrice Bayliss ethos as the company grows.
When it comes to creating a new clothing line, it always starts from creating mood boards and looking carefully at runway trends. Our colour palettes are often inspired by the natural environment. I would say that the fabric selection process is at the core of what we do at Beatrice Bayliss – we choose materials carefully, and we make sure to offer garments made of organic or recycled fabric which have been produced as sustainably as possible. Once the fabric has been selected, and the collection made up, we proceed with shooting the collection. During our photoshoots, we aim to convey the overall mood. It is quite a lengthy process, my time at university has helped me navigate this. I studied Fashion Design at the London College of Fashion, which was a steppingstone towards gaining knowledge of different materials and production processes – all of which culminated in starting up Beatrice Bayliss.
Question #2: Do you have any tips for consumers on how to recognise greenwashing in fashion and how to buy clothes more intentionally?
I believe as consumers we really must think about longevity and how we can extend the use of the clothes we buy. If we are about to make an impulse purchase, we should take a step back and think about the afterlife of the product we are buying. What are the consequences of disposing of an item of clothing soon after purchase, repeatedly? What is the scale of the damage? Fashion waste is a huge issue in the fashion industry, so I think it is important to keep an open mind and learn how to consume clothes at a slower pace and from brands which are committed to sustainability.
With that being said, I recognise that it’s often difficult to spot those companies which are doing good against those that greenwash the public. As consumers, we don’t often have the time and energy to investigate how ethical a business is, and it should be the brand’s responsibility to be transparent and disclose which materials are used and under which conditions clothes are made. Nonetheless, it remains a difficult quest and it relies upon the customers’ sense of judgement and willingness to question the information companies feed us with. Certifications may be a good indication as to whether a fashion brand is doing some good or not – and sometimes customers can easily gauge whether a company engages in greenwashing.
Question #3: What did you learn regarding setting up a sustainable fashion business? Do you have any advice for any aspiring social/sustainable entrepreneurs?
It’s hard work! There are many challenges every day, and you have to be extremely dedicated in order to overcome all the obstacles. You have to be very open-minded and believe in yourself. No one is going to tell you whether you are making the right decision, so self-belief is important! Thankfully, there are many platforms out there that can assist aspiring entrepreneurs; there are online groups where female founders come together and can help one another. Getting mentors can also be very helpful. At my university, there is a group dedicated to founders, so it becomes easier to connect with one another and get some help and advice. I am part of the Impact Central accelerator which is geared towards purpose-driven start-ups. It has been widely useful to learn more about investors marketing and more. Becoming an entrepreneur comes with many challenges, but if you are passionate about your cause, go for it! There are many independent designers who are making a change, sustainability and ethical fashion is where consumer habits are going.
Question #4: "Fashion is such a powerful tool and a good conversation starter, but a lot of brands do a disservice by just being about clothes. My brand is about more than clothing" says Tulu Coker (a London-based designer whose clothes have been worn by big hitters like Rihanna and Rita Ora). Adapted from Courier magazine August/September 2020 page 97. What do you think about this statement? And what does Beatrice Bayliss stand for?
I completely agree. There are many different fashion brands which are only about clothes. For instance, fast fashion companies only care about driving as many sales as possible and they compete on the basis of which brand generates the highest turnover. Profit is what matters and there is often no meaning behind what those companies do. The fashion industry is the second-biggest polluter in the world – this is heart-breaking considering something as beautiful as clothes is destroying the environment. Thankfully, our generation leans towards those businesses that have a purpose and advocate for change. Beatrice Bayliss’ ethos is to highlight that fashion and the environment can work in unison and that sustainable fashion can be beautiful.
Question #5: What does the future of Beatrice Bayliss look like?
Our short-term goal is to remain predominantly an ecommerce brand. We believe it is the most sustainable solution, since setting up a brick-and-mortar store would use up energy and require many clothes to fill the premise – all of which would generate additional waste. As an alternative, we are looking into setting up some pop-up events in the UK and US. Our North American customer base is very big, and we are excited to explore that opportunity even more in the future. Overall, we are committed to offering to customers what they need and to staying true to our sustainability pledge.
Question #6: Bonus question for the curious ones: where does the brand name (Beatrice Bayliss) come from?
Bayliss is my surname and Beatrice is my middle name! I prefer it to Emily, my first name. Also, it works well as a logo!
Interview and blog by Chiara Tecchio