Who doesn´t love ethical statements shirts? We all love them and wear them often to show others what is really important in life and what we love. Palabra is a new Brooklyn-based brand creating earth-friendly and ethical statement shirts for conscious customers who want to spread these messages. We talked with founder Susan about her motivation to create ethical statement shirts. Read further to find out what Susan wants to give back to people and our planet.
Susan, 2 years ago you took your passion and founded Palabra NYC, creating wonderful ethical statement shirts. What made you go for it?
Susan: After working for several international companies in fashion and technology. I really believed business could be done differently. This is why I started a “business for benefit” not one solely focused on profit, bottom line and fast growth. It was important for me to start something that was collaborative with our customer and community. I wanted to empower individuals and communities. Fashion has always been my passion and creative outlet, so I felt I was ready to offer a clothing brand that could achieve this. We use only earth friendly textiles such as bamboo viscose, hemp, organic cotton, and RPET (Recycled water bottles). These textiles offer a great drape, excellent wicking and a super feel against the body. Palabra makes light and mid-weight clothing with a comfy or slimmer fits for every body shape. Our color palette is inspired by nature and the planet. Today a wide range of textile manufactures offer alternatives to polyester and rayon. We want to continue exploring earth friendly or recycled textiles in our future collections. Palabra is about offering hip and stylish basics: tees, tanks, tops, dresses, hoodies and bags that continue to create change after they are purchased.
You started making earth-friendly T-shirts in your apartment, do you remember the word on your first tee?
Susan: My first tee had Pueblo Unido (= people united) on the front and Jamás Será Vencido (= will never be divided) on the back.
Was it clear to you from the beginning, that you wanted Palabra NYC to be socially responsible?
Susan: Absolutely. One out six people work in some part the fashion industry and 75% of them are women. Statics are showing us 98% of them are not making a living wage. For Palabra, we wanted to ensure that our supply chain adheres to our word and value of paying a living wage. It’s the right thing to do as business, and for women and our global communities to thrive. When started reading the data regarding pollution and the apparel industry we realized we didn´t want to make the problem worse and offer an alternative and greener way to producing clothing.
A quarter of the chemicals on this planet are used in the apparel industry and the fashion industry is the second greatest contributor to freshwater pollution globally. Cotton is the worlds largest insecticide consuming crop. It was clear for us that we should use organic cotton and earth friendly textiles to limit our footprint on the plant.
Talking about social responsibility: Why did you choose to help the “Chispa Project“ (a Honduran project to empower and inspire students)? Do you have a connection to Honduras?
Susan: Yes, my extended family is from there. My niece and nephew’s mother is from a town called Minas de Oro. My nephew helped me make our first two Palabra tees. Palabra has grassroot values and ideology so we wanted to collaborate with grassroot-based non-profits who work with their community and leaders. A friend of mine who worked in the Peace Corps in Honduras knew about Chispa Project and their great library and volunteer programs. We contacted them and found out that Palabra and Chispa Project visions were very similar. Our belief that books and words can spark the change.
Palabra is all about empowering people to be part of the change and giving them a voice. How did you come up with the idea of people choosing and voting for their favorite words and phrases? Where can they participate?
Susan: When we started to make tees the discussion was about what the word or phrase meant to us or the individual. Many discussions came about with family, friends and people in our community. The tee became a conversation piece between friends and strangers. They would discuss the word and offer suggestions of other words that mean something to them. This started the “My Palabra” movement in which we have asked people over social media to tell us words or phrases that have significance to them. We have received some wonderful stories from around the globe. We are now going to develop a page on our e-commerce site that will allow people to vote and submit words or phrases that they would like to put into production.
If you had 3 words to summarize Palabra NYC to somebody who didn’t know the brand, which words would you choose?
Susan: Ethics, Aesthetics and Energy.
What does the future hold for Palabra NYC? Any plans you could share with us?
Susan: We just launched our women’s and men’s wholesale line this year which is a collection of basic tees, tanks, tops, dresses, and hoodies. We looking at other earth-friendly textiles to expand our bag collection and Palabra is launching a jewelry line in 2019/2020 out of recycled material. Our biggest project for this summer is to co-sponsor our first library with Chispa Project in Honduras, because we must continue to spread the word through literacy programs.
Our e-commerce website only offers the word tees and bags to customers. The plain and word tees are available for wholesale orders. We are changing the website to offer some basic tees and dresses, and that will be at the end of 2018.
In cooperation with Palabra NYC.