Roberta Lee is a Sustainable Stylist. If you're unsure what this means, let us tell you!
Roberta is determined to keep clothes from landfill. Her enthusiasm knocks you over. By empowering clients to take control of their style confidence, they learn how to consciously curate a wardrobe that aligns with their life. Building style confidence reduces waste and reduces the 'what shall I wear' stress that we're all far too familiar with!
We first met Roberta when she was looking for core basics to work with. Roberta is a massive advocate of choosing quality, timeless basics that will last and blend with your wardrobe. Roberta believes if you keep the basics simple you can then dress up or dress down with accessories to create your style.
So we thought it might be useful to share some of the highlights from a recent chat we had with Roberta. Investing in a Personal Stylist is more fun and planet-saving than you would think!
WTC: Before we met a personal stylist sounded too intimidating and expensive. What would be your response to that?
RSL: I try and ensure I am approachable by being super friendly, open and honest with a good dose of humour thrown in. I try and steer clear of The Devil Wears Prada vibe, I find it helps :-) Genuinely though, I think because I have always been a ’sustainable stylist’ being resourceful, thoughtful, and conscientious about investing in quality over quantity - it’s helped build trust. When people come to me, they know I have a moral compass and I’m not about getting people to throw out everything they own, and start again with new things. A blend of old, reinvented and dash of what’s needed new is my approach!
WTC: We actually first met you when you invited us to join your Ethical Brand Directory. How did the Directory come about?
RSL: Why do we exist? Ethical Brand Directory was created as an extension of my Roberta Style Lee stylist work back in 2017. It was after the frustration I experienced trying to find ethically produced clothing that didn’t compromise on aesthetics. I also found that my clients wouldn’t switch to ethical brands unless it was easy – and realised most of the population is like that too. The number of ethical brands that would then go out of business after 1-2 years also saddened me and was determined to find a way to help them.
Today it’s so much more, we have the Ethical Brand Boutique where the style-conscious can ‘Shop their Values’. The Ethical Brand Academy helps the ethical brand community thrive and of course The Ethical Brand Directory. Through these new services, we hope to facilitate the transition of conscious consumerism, from a niche to a norm.
WTC: We are often asked by customers for other ethical clothing recommendations and we always suggest The Ethical Brand Directory as a great starting point. Could you paint a picture of what can be found there?
RSL: Ethical Brand Directory provides a platform to find a curated collection of ethical and sustainable fashion brands, ethical and sustainable lifestyle brands and ethical and sustainable beauty brands, all carefully selected by your truly, with the style-conscious consumer in mind. Every brand has a human behind it, so we love to showcase the founders' story as well as highlight their values so people can find brands aligned with their own personal values. We don’t judge, we provide options.
WTC: So what do you think has changed our attitude towards what we wear over the last few years?
RSL: I saw a subtle shift happen towards end of 2018, by 2019 there was momentum. It seemed like there were ethical fashion bloggers popping up everywhere! Despite a surge in interest in #ethicalfashion, everything appeared to be all talk and no action. I was, however, thrilled that ITV News wanted to talk about fast fashion with me and how we can all try and be more mindful. I knew that things would change as soon as mainstream media started covering it. Although it was a huge blow when the UK Government rejected all of the recommendations from the Environmental Audit Committee over fast fashion.
The Fashion Revolution campaign, following The Rana Plaza disaster, made a huge impact and by 2020 was building a real awareness about what was happening in the fashion industry. The concept of fast-fashion being bad started to reach a much bigger audience, hence my appearance on the BBC on New Years Day. You may recall I took onto the TV a certain white T-shirt from a brand I love ;-)
If I am honest, COVID-19 has really made the biggest impact. Yes, it disrupted our lives, changed our spending, what we wear and how we socialise, but it’s also forced us all (globally) to stop and slow down. We’ve all witnessed first hand the changes in the environment as a result of us all staying in our homes. But this also shined the spotlight on terrible high-street brands who refused to #PayUp and pay their suppliers. Forcing hundreds of thousands of workers and families into even more poverty.
WTC: So how has all this changed your own relationship with clothes?
RSL: I wasn’t always the sustainable fashion advocate I am today. For many years, I was a fast-fashion junkie who’d shop for fun, because I was bored, for cardio (you name it, I would find a reason to make it a shopping trip!). I then watched The True Cost and was forever changed, I realised my excessive behaviour contributed to something that made my stomach turn and feel shame. I was compelled to change and try and counter all the unconscious behaviour into carefully considered action that was good for the people and the planet.
That said, I do not have the ‘perfect sustainable wardrobe’ – and probably never will. But as Anne Marie, the Zero Waste Chef said: “We don’t need a handful of people doing zero waste perfectly. We need millions of people doing it imperfectly.” It’s not about being perfect, it’s about making small, long-lasting changes. I appreciate my clothes now and aim for no less than #100wears from anything I own.
COP26 has made us all realise that we can not afford to be complacent. We need to stop assuming someone else will sort it out. Each of us needs to take responsibility. So if you need help with making better sustainability choices Roberta can certainly help with your wardrobe dilemmas. Roberta runs a Create Your Own Personal Style online course or you can choose a 1-1 session. Roberta will teach you everything you need to build a sustainable wardrobe and we promise you'll have lots of fun doing it!
Roberta can be found over at Roberta Style Lee.