October 8, 2019

AmyAnn Cadwell of The Good Trade

We’re thrilled to team up with AmyAnn Cadwell of The Good Trade to create a jewelry collection that dives deeper into the importance of ethical fashion. AmyAnn has dedicated her career to providing resources and inspiration so that others can make meaningful lifestyle choices. Check it out here!

The Good Trade is an online resource for women and men who care deeply about the brands they support and the social and environmental impact of their lifestyle choices. 

We sat down with AmyAnn to chat about her pursuit of conscious living, how she started The Good Trade, and how to tell if a brand is ethical or not. Read the exclusive interview below and let us know what you think!

A Conscious Collection by AmyAnn Cadwell of The Good Trade

How did you first learn about ethical fashion and what sparked you to pursue a more ethical lifestyle?

I watched the documentary​,The True Cost,​ for the first time during graduate school. The documentary told a compelling story of how fast fashion is depleting the Earth’s resources and leveraging slave labor to pass along a “cheap” cost to the end consumer.

It was a huge wake-up call for me, personally. I began focusing my graduate studies on labor issues — finding quickly that hundreds of billions of dollars of profit are generated each year from laborers who work in unthinkable conditions to produce many of the products we eat, use, and wear every day.

Why did you start The Good Trade?

Like many of my friends and family, I was deeply disturbed by the issues behind fast fashion and other industries but did not know where to start to change my lifestyle or spending habits in an impactful way. I became curious about my own role as a consumer to support businesses that aligned with fair trade labor practices and values for sustainability.

This concern and curiosity eventually became the inspiration for starting The Good Trade. We wanted to become the leading resource for those seeking to live an inspired and intentional life. We now serve a highly-engaged readership of millions of women and men who care deeply about the brands they support and the social and environmental impact of their lifestyle choices.

So many websites try to write about ethical fashion, but we see The Good Trade as the leader in the industry. How do you differentiate your content and set yourself apart?

In all things, we are readers first. We are deeply dedicated to serving, nurturing, and inspiring our readers with meaningful content and opportunities to build community online and offline. So many media companies focus on high-volume publishing, but we believe in quality over quantity and seek to create polished, aesthetically beautiful content that is sincere, inclusive, approachable, and shareable.

What are some ways you’ve shifted your wardrobe and lifestyle since starting The Good Trade?

For me, ethical consumption is not only about buying more conscious products, but also about buying less things in general and making purchases count in terms of quality, ethics, and durability. I’ve also really fallen in love with shopping second hand. It’s a way to bring personal style and uniqueness into my wardrobe.

What’s the biggest challenge in getting people to care about shopping ethically?

Consumers resonate with socially conscious brands when there is a competitive price, aesthetic, and level of accessibility. As the sustainable fashion community matures, it has been able to scale and become a more approachable option for consumers.

Sometimes there seems to be an “all or nothing” attitude with shopping ethically. What are some tangible steps people can take toward building an ethical wardrobe and lifestyle?

I am a total believer in small steps, and there’s no such thing as an ethically infallible brand or lifestyle choice. Each of us has a responsibility to think about how our actions impact our larger community and make small changes where we can.

Often people think they can’t afford to shop ethically, and give up trying. Any words of advice on this?

Shopping secondhand and for staple investment pieces can make shopping sustainably much more accessible.

How do you discover new brands?

Our editorial team spends countless hours a week researching new brands to feature across our channels. We look for brands that share our values for ethics and sustainability, and brands that have inclusive imagery, sizing, and messaging. We also receive hundreds of brand pitches and brand samples every month, and we love celebrating emerging companies that reach out to us!

As consumers, how can a person tell if a brand is ethical or not?

Resources like The Good Trade and other platforms like GoodOnYou and Eco-Age are great places to start. Above all, look for transparency from the brands you support. Look for companies that share their corporate values publicly and back those values with transparent reporting.

Check their websites to see if they publish their carbon footprint, the sourcing of their materials, where their design and manufacturing takes place, and their commitments to diversity and gender equality.

Take time to write a simple note to a brand you support—inquiring about their production practices and sustainability commitments. Brands that are aligned to values of ethical and sustainable production will readily share the steps they are taking to protect people and the planet.