Real Talk with Kelsey from Thread International 

Love your world! We’re so excited to partner with Thread™, a company that takes plastic waste from Haiti, Honduras and Taiwan and transforms it into recycled polyester. So far, our Play leggings made with Thread recycled yarns have helped divert 403,960.22 pounds of plastic waste from landfills and oceans (that’s the weight of 6,463,363.5 plastic bottles!) and generated $85,688.55 in revenue ​in the First Mile in Taiwan. We talked with Kelsey, Director of Sales at Thread, and found out a little more about Thread and the impact that just one pair of leggings can have. Read on for more!

Real Talk with Kelsey from Thread International 

Kelsey, Director of Sales at Thread

The Thread yarns in our Play leggings start as plastic waste in Taiwan. How does a plastic bottle become one of the leggings we love?

Great question. In my opinion, recycling is about as close as we get to magic. Your plastic starts out as discarded bottles in Taiwan. There are several thousand individuals around the country who pick up and collect these bottles. They sell this material to entrepreneurs who run “collection centers.” These centers sort and prepare the bottles for recycling facilities where they are washed and ground up into flake. That flake gets melted down into pellet and extruded into filament, which is then finished into yarn. That yarn gets knitted into fabric, and finally cut and sewn into your Play leggings.

The best part about this process, is that in addition to diverting plastic waste from landfill and oceans, our supply chains also support income opportunities and small businesses that support their communities. You can look great, and know that you’re having positive impact in the world when you wear these leggings.

Real Talk with Kelsey from Thread International 

Aerie Play Pocket & Cuff Legging, Made with Thread recycled polyester yarns

You focus on the importance of the “First Mile” of the supply chain. Can you tell us more about this? 

Absolutely. Recycling is still often an unregulated industry in many parts of the world. Especially in countries where there may not be a lot of waste management infrastructure, or municipal recycling. The First Mile refers to the individual people that pick up the plastic bottles that become Thread fabric. Our impact team works with these collectors to ensure that their work is dignified and safe and that they have the opportunity to grow sustainable collection businesses to support them and their families.

First Mile also refers to the traceability of our material. Recycled polyester is not a new material, but Thread is the only material that can tell you what country our recycled plastic was sourced from as well as the network of people picking it up. Knowing where your stuff comes from is important, because without this knowledge, you can’t be sure that your entire supply chain is responsible.

 

What advice do you have for someone trying to be more sustainable with their fashion choices? 

Start paying attention to the brands and material choices you are purchasing. If a brand is transparent and forthcoming with information about their supply chains, that is a good sign. If they make products using recycled polyester, organic cotton, hemp, or other sustainable materials that’s a great place to start. If they don’t use these materials, or you can’t find information about their supply chains, don’t be afraid to reach out to the brand and ask. If brands know sustainability is important to their customers, they will be more likely to make sustainable choices.

Learning how to repair your clothes, thrifting, second hand shopping, and clothing swaps with your friends are also great ways to keep your clothing circulating and useful and out of landfill. Don’t let perfect be the enemy of good – there is not such thing as a “perfect” material or fiber. Making more informed choices is a great start.DSC01279

 

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Strong. Beautiful. YOU!

Strong. Beautiful. YOU!

We’re so proud to celebrate our fourth year partnering with NEDA, a non-profit that supports individuals and families affected by eating disorders and serves as a catalyst for prevention, cures and access to quality care. Aerie sponsors all NEDA walks across the country that help raise money for advocacy and educational programs and provide support for local communities.

Strong. Beautiful. YOU!

Along with our sponsorship, #AerieREAL Role Model, Iskra Lawrence, will continue to partner with the non-profit as a NEDA Ambassador and attend walks throughout the year. Iskra is always open about her personal journey of learning to accept her body and love her REAL self, and her brave story helps encourage others to do the same.

Strong. Beautiful. YOU!As always, we’re launching a limited-edition collection so you can shop to support NEDA. This year, not only did we bring back our Limited-Edition NEDA Tee, but we also added three styles of NEDA undies! Shop the tee and boybriefs and we’ll donate 100% of sales to NEDA. Want to show your support instead? This spring and summer, we’ll donate $1 (now up to $25,000!) to NEDA for every unretouched swim photo or video you share with #AerieREAL.

Check out Aerie.com/AerieSupports and MyNEDA.org to learn more about NEDA and for additional resources. Always remember… love yourself just as you are. YOU are #AerieREAL!

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Real Talk with Hannah Skvarla from The Little Market

Hannah Skvarla co-founded The Little Market to empower women and support brighter futures for the artisans around the world. We talked with this #AerieREAL Role Model about her non-profit, the positive impact she’s making on the world and what it means to be #AerieREAL. Read all about it below!

Real Talk with Hannah Skvarla from The Little Market

You are Co-Founder of The Little Market. What inspired you to start a non-profit?

Lauren and I have always felt a responsibility to help others. We love traveling and have had the opportunity to meet incredible women who are surviving and thriving because of the help of nonprofits. When we travel, we love to visit local marketplaces and support local artisans.  We realized that if we could bring these handmade products to a wider audience, then the artisans would be able to support themselves and their families while making their beautiful goods.

In 2013, we founded The Little Market, a nonprofit, fair trade shop with a collection of artisan-made goods from around the world. We ethically source products from 60 artisan groups in 28 countries. By bringing these beautiful artisan-made goods to customers, women can support themselves and their families while preserving cultural techniques that have been passed down for generations. Through The Little Market, we can empower women around the world, without a limit by geography.

We work with artisan groups from marginalized, rural communities to share their beautiful products with a wider audience. We seek out partnerships with artisan groups that follow fair trade practices and empower women. Many of the artisan co-ops and social enterprises provide much-needed resources such as job and skills training, access to education, and family healthcare. Every purchase of fair trade goods creates sustainable jobs and a positive, long-lasting impact. By shopping fair trade, our collective efforts generate meaningful opportunities and help to combat poverty, empower artisans, and create social justice.

Being a nonprofit was a clear decision for us because we started it to help others, not to personally gain. As a nonprofit, all profits are dedicated to expanding operations and reaching more artisan groups.

The Little Market is fair trade. Why was this business decision so important to you?

Every purchase of fair trade goods creates sustainable jobs and a positive, long-lasting impact for artisans and their communities. Fair trade ensures that marginalized producers earn a fair, sustainable wage, work in safe and supportive environments, implement environmentally conscious and sustainable practices, and preserve their cultural identity. Through fair trade and equitable trading partnerships, artisans and other small-scale producers have a platform to sell their goods for a sustainable price. It is very important for us to ensure our products are made while following fair trade principles.

We love hearing concrete examples of the positive impact fair trade has on the artisan groups we work with. Earning a fair income means that artisans do not have to keep their children home from school to work to supplement the family income — this allows the children to go to school, often becoming the first in their family to attend middle or high school. Many artisans can purchase more nutritious and healthier food, which leads to fewer medical problems like worms.

Personally, when thinking about the importance of shopping with purpose, I love the quote by Anna Lappé that says, “Every time you spend money, you’re casting a vote for the kind of world you want.” With each purchase, a vote is casted. When purchasing items that are fair trade and ethically made, you are valuing the well-being and story of the individual behind a product. As conscious shoppers, we can make a positive impact through fair trade, ethically sourced goods and show respect for human rights.

Real Talk with Hannah Skvarla from The Little Market

What makes you an #AerieREAL Role Model?

I believe in the power behind empowering women, using our voices to lift each other up, and speaking up against injustices. I love the message and mission behind #AerieREAL — it is incredibly important for women to support each other. Women are one of the most underserved populations. For instance, with the current pay gap, women earn 80 cents for every dollar earned by men in the United States; this is greater for women of color. Women face a greater risk of experiencing domestic violence. And we are underrepresented in government. Knowing the disparities and inequalities women face around the world, we founded The Little Market to empower women in marginalized communities. When we have opportunities to earn a sustainable income, we can work toward a brighter future for themselves and their families. I am honored to be an #AerieREAL Role Model and to support authentic beauty and women empowerment.

#AerieREAL is about standing together and feeling confident and comfortable in your own skin. How do you personally identify with that message?

Encouraging women to stand together and to feel confident and comfortable is very important to me. Growing up, I remember feeling like I would never look like the women I would see in magazines or on TV. The images and messaging that I was exposed to through media made me feel like women were valued based on their looks. As a mother to a little girl, it is more important to me than ever to tell girls and women that they are beautiful just as they are. Each of us is different and that’s what makes each of us uniquely beautiful.

Who is your role model and why?

I have always been fascinated by Jane Goodall. Jane has always done things that prior to her work people believed were impossible. She worked jobs that no woman had ever worked before. Before her years of research, scientists did not believe that animals had emotions. She discovered the complex social behaviors and personalities of chimpanzees during her 50 years of observing them. For instance, her research uncovered that chimps can not only use tools, but they can make them as well. Observations like these led to rethinking our connections with humans and animals. She has been dedicated to activism from animal rights to environmental causes.

As an animal rights activist, she speaks up for those without a voice. I have always believed that it is our responsibility to use our voice to speak for those who don’t have one. Many women around the world are treated as if their voices do not matter. We have learned that when a woman has her own income, this can change. Several of the inspiring artisans we work with have shared with us that now that they have a way to make money, domestic violence has decreased and men treat them more equally.

Jane Goodall has not only made breakthrough discoveries through her research, but she has also taught us the power of using our voices to make a difference. She found causes she was passionate about at a young age, bravely set out to pursue her research, and reshaped our understanding of the connection between humans and animals. We can all learn the power of following our passions, using our voices, and showing compassion for others from Jane Goodall.

 

What makes you an #AerieREAL Role Model? Join the movement and share your story!

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Real Talk With Jordan Jones of Packed Party

We talked to Jordan Jones, founder of the MOST fun Packed Party gifts brand. Find out how she started her business in her apartment and read about her must-haves for your holiday parties this season. Check out our fave Packed Party items at our Spring Street Pop-Up and at Aerie.com now!

 

How did you come up with the idea for Packed Party?

The idea for Packed Party came to me in a dream in 2013. I had moved to San Francisco not knowing anyone, was sort of feeling sorry for myself one evening in my apartment and called my mom who told me I was having a Pity Party for myself and to go to bed. Thank goodness I listened to her because I went to bed and woke up from a dream about sending a physical Pity Party to myself. I scoured the internet for anything like it and there was nothing that existed so I wrote a business plan for Packed Party right there and sent it to my dad the very next day.

 

What advice do you have for girls who want to start their own companies?

If it’s an idea you’re truly passionate about, dive in head-first fearlessly. No one can stop a woman with passion. I loved Packed Party from the night it came to me in my dream, I knew no one could do it better than me at 23 and today at 27 I still believe that. I have a passion for making people’s days and giving great gifts so I’m truly doing what I love. There will always be nay sayers or people who will try and get in the way, but when you know in your heart of hearts you’re the person to do the job and you love it, there’s no stopping you.

 

We love the Packed Party Pom Pom Magnets! What do you love most about the pom trend?

Thank you! Me too!! I am a pom pom fanatic. I have been since I was little weirdly so it makes a lot of sense so many of our fall + holiday items have poms on them! I think details are incredibly important so adding a pom to anything makes it a little bit better and pops it!

Real Talk With Jordan Jones of Packed Party

Packed Party is our go-to for unique gifts! What are your must-haves for the ultimate holiday party?

I love a good holiday party! I love creating a great tablescape story and always look to my friend Darcy Miller for inspiration in this department. As far as the actual place setting I love putting a staple in place people can keep with them like a Disco Drink or some sort of fun gift with someone’s name attached to it. Can never go wrong with a disco ball on the table, right?

 

What makes you #AerieREAL?

I pride myself on keeping it very real with people. Everyone who knows me knows where they stand with me, I have a lot of trouble hiding my emotions, ha. My mom raised me to be really confident in who I am and never sort of “pretend” to be anyone else so I don’t wear much make-up and that’s sort of set the tone in our office – we’re all about keeping it easy, natural, and functional. No one here is trying to be anyone they’re not which I love. Being a Party Girl means being confident in the skin you’re in and owning whatever it is you’re dealing with like a Pity Party, celebrating yourself for that big raise at work with a Yay, You, you-name-it.

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