ALEXIS MALEDY | March 27, 2017


My Modern Closet founder Chloe Popove is on a mission to change the way women choose their clothes. Her online site (this one!) curates beautiful secondhand garments, encouraging consumers to shop responsibly and reduce their post-consumer waste. Sarah Stewart’s brainchild, ARC Apparel, is an online store that does the legwork for consciously-minded visitors by sourcing clothing brands at the forefront of sustainability and ethical manufacturing.

Both Vancouver twenty-something’s businesses were created out of their founder’s realization that the typical methods in which clothes are produced, manufactured, and purchased have severe environmental and societal repercussions. Both Popove and Stewart’s brands are committed to dismantling Big Fashion from within by shedding light on the often overlooked impacts of the fast-fashion industry.

The two concepts offer consumers opposing choices, but at the end of the day, My Modern Closet and ARC are essentially in direct competition with the other. Which is exactly why Stewart and Popove decided to collaborate.

I sat down (aka: three-way called) with the two business leaders to find out why they firmly believe that there’s enough of the [sustainable fashion] pie to go around.

MMC: So, if inherent social frameworks and countless episodes of reality television have taught us anything, you both should be pulling each other’s hair out, engaging in smear campaigns to undermine the other’s success, or, pretending to like each other while secretly wiretapping the other’s brains for insider secrets right now. Why in the name of that old white dude that invented capitalism are you choosing collaboration over competition?

CHLOE: The fashion industry is a beast to tackle. The more people you have on your side, the easier the journey becomes. While my passion is getting people to consider buying preloved garments before they shop new, I also recognize that second-hand clothes may not work for everyone every time. I love what Sarah is creating with ARC, and on a personal level, I know that I have so much to learn from her.

SARAH: Chloe and I have the same mission - to inspire confidence and to change the way women shop in order for our planet to thrive. We are solving the problem that fast fashion has created in different ways which creates a perfect opportunity to collaborate.

MMC: Chloe, you mentioned you have so much to learn from Sarah. I’ve witnessed a lot of entrepreneurs lead from the mentality that “It’s my business, I know what’s best”. Does your ego ever get in the way of collaboration? If so, how do you overcome that?

CHLOE: I struggle all the time to take my ego out of my business – I’ve found that as soon as I’ve let that ego part go, you get rewarded. I was rewarded with Sarah. I want to watch her succeed and I feel empowered and fierce knowing she wants the same for me. Instead of being intimidated by your competitors, there’s an opportunity to be humbled, intrigued, and inspired.

SARAH: So many of us (women) are brought up to believe that finding a man will be our biggest accomplishment in life. What must happen in order for that "accomplishment" to be met? We feel that we have to compete with each other and with ourselves over who is the smartest, who is the funniest, who is the most successful, who is the prettiest. This mindset is unfortunately ingrained into our subconscious and I've had to actively let go of my ego to know that if another woman's business is taking off, it doesn't mean I can't be successful too. Letting go of the ego is a practice and in the beginning stages of a business you often don't have a choice. The choice I am making is to work with women, not against them.

MMC: Speaking of working with rather than against, do you have a take on the role collaboration plays in female-led businesses?

SARAH: If we want to see more women in business and leading roles, we have to support the rise of female leaders. Collaborating also provides such a great opportunity to cross promote our businesses to different markets and in collaboration you often learn things you may not expect.

If we want to see more women in business and leading roles, we have to support the rise of female leaders

CHLOE: I was going to say the EXACT same thing. What do they say? “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together”.

MMC: What advice do you have for other female entrepreneurs looking to break into the sustainable fashion industry?

SARAH: In order to turn your daydreams into a reality you have to jump. Once you do, collaborating with other businesses and people is such a great way to learn new skills and introduce your brand to new markets. Especially if your collaboration is across two industries, like the collab between MMC and Tight Club. Also, using connections you already have to introduce you to other business owners is the best – most of the time people are happy to connect you.

CHLOE: JUMP. And don’t be afraid of failure. Failure is part of the process. It sounds cliché, but it’s what you do with it that matters.

With women like Popove and Stewart at the helm, there’s nothing that can sabotage the success of sustainable fashion’s future.

Images courtesy of @arcapparel