HH Muse : Joyce Hu
Welcome our next HH MUSE, Joyce.
We sat down with Joyce Hu, co-founder of the Sustainable Fashion Alliance and Marketing Director of Wildlife Works. Her passion for sustainable and ethical business has pushed her to the forefront of the sustainable fashion movement. In honor of Fashion Revolution Week and Earth Day, we sat down with her to chat about her work, passions, and her relationship with nature.
HH: Hey Joyce! You’re the Marketing Director at Wildlife Works, and you also co-founded and co-run the Sustainable Fashion Alliance. Tell me a little bit more about how you got to such an incredible position in your career.
Joyce: Before I started working for Wildlife Works, I had a conventional fashion job. It was based in Hong Kong, a boutique global luxury brand - I thought it was going to be my dream job, but it ultimately was spiritually very unfulfilling. I was completely turned off by the fashion industry, and ended up reaching out to Mike who runs Wildlife Works, who I had done a few events with before moving out of SF. It was great timing for them, as they were relaunching the company with carbon-offset credits. I started running the fair trade factory in 2010 - when sustainable fashion was really in its infancy. That position really pushed me to become more aware of sustainable fashion - from creating our own line within Wildlife Works, to doing private label for brands ranging from Puma to Raven and Lily.
HH: How has the industry evolved since you first started working at Wildlife Works in 2010?
JH: It’s evolved a lot, and I think social media as a tool to promote transparency and the idea of sustainable production has been a huge factor. When we first started, Wildlife Works was one of the few places that had a truly sustainable and ethical business practices, and were promoting it as such. Since then, the industry has really evolved from consumer and investor pressure to bring in more sustainable practices. Factories are being audited now so much more than before, and people are so much more aware of the right questions to ask, whether they’re manufacturing the clothes or buying them. The process and industry is evolving, so now there are more options for ethical production, but there is still a lot more work to do in the global supply chain.
HH: How did the Sustainable Fashion Alliance come to be?
JH: I had done a few events with my now co-founder, Andrea Pell, who specializes in sustainable fashion PR. We ended up doing what was one of the first Fashion Revolution events in San Francisco, where we had a press event with sustainable fashion brands, and a flash mob with signs saying “who made my clothes?” - which is a worldwide campaign. The brands that participated were so engaged and motivated, and were really yearning to collaborate more. Andrea and I loved working together and we wanted to keep this community alive, so we literally bought the URL sustainablefashionalliance.com the immediately had a few hundred people sign up for our mailing list. We knew we had something really special.
Now almost 3 years in, SFA is taking up more and more of our time, but what’s so great is it aligns so well with my full-time job. I can have conversations with these engaged brands about mitigating their carbon footprint. Wildlife Works has carbon offsetting credits that work towards stopping deforestation.
HH: How did you first become aware of sustainability and sustainable practices?
JH: It was really when I started working with Wildlife Works, and I saw the direct impact of the work we did in Kenya and the difference we could make - especially the social impact from our factory. That “aha” moment for me really opened up the floodgates to everything else, and so many other facets of sustainability and ethical production. I realized that everything is truly connected, and that everything ultimately comes from the ground as a raw material, so it’s important to be super mindful of what we’re using, how its integrating into the supply chain, and where it ends up.
HH: What’s one thing people don’t realize they can do easily to be more sustainable?
JH: I think the easiest thing to do, right off the bat when you’re trying to be more sustainable, is thinking twice about the purchases you make. Impulse purchases or things you buy online-- our culture and technology has made it so easy to buy things quickly and without thinking about if you really need it. Then, this idea of ok, if you do really need it, is there a more sustainable option? Can it be glass or plastic, maybe it’s something you can reuse. It takes a little bit more effort, but once you incorporate it into your routine, it becomes second nature. It really comes down to just slowing down your consumption, which can open up more space to learn more about sustainable consumption.
HH: What kinds of rituals or routines do you keep in your life to remind yourself to slow down?
JH: Daily yoga and meditation routine-- its not super extensive, but I take purposeful moments to slow down. I also love being in nature, I’m so lucky to live in a place where I have access to it. I’m a five minute walk from the beach, and I have a beautiful mountain walk that’s a few minutes from my house as well. For me, it’s about connecting with nature and getting back into it whenever I can to ground myself, which sounds so cliché but it’s true.
HH: Who is your muse?
JH: I try to keep a lot of people that inspire me very accessible. For example, I recently did an event with Sherri McMullen (of McMullen store in Oakland), Mara Hoffman (fashion designer and SFA Partner). They both inspire me so much. My SFA cofounder Andrea, and the partnership we have is so inspiring to me. Everyday people I meet and friends that I have, everyone has an aspect that I really take inspiration from-- people take on so much and so many life struggles and it’s so inspiring to watch and see people move and evolve through life.
HH: Last and only superficial question - what’s your favorite HH bag?
JH: Well of course the MK tote that I have! It’s my computer tote, and the next time I go on a trip, it’ll be my everyday bag. It’s so great because it’s exactly what I was looking for - the size, shape, and the zipper! It’s so great for travel and it’s so secure.