Let’s be honest – some of us don’t always have the time to meticulously sort through brands to research ingredients and material sourcing for our beauty and fashion items – sometimes you know what you want and are looking for someone who has searched and done the legwork for you; someone you can trust and who is experienced. Meet Alison Rojas Metcalfe, founder of Salud Shoppe; she is a modern, clean living, girl boss, who has been working to change the green economy. She has curated her shop with integrity and an extensive knowledge base, so you can rest easy knowing that her experience and research has led her to stock only the best of the best in beauty and fashion.
Alison embarked upon her journey to bring clean beauty and ethical fashion to the modern green consumer in Spring 2015. She has a background in fashion design and development, and while working in her previous job, she developed one of the first ever Fair Trade apparel programs and converted conventional apparel lines from cotton to organic cotton, eliminated materials such as rayon, and traveled to factories in India, Vietnam, Taiwan and China to review sustainability standards. To say that she is inspiring and leading the charge for industry changes would be an understatement.
Working toward change
While traveling the world and reviewing factory conditions and practices, she realized that changes needed to be made at home in the US as well. After seeing factories in Los Angeles that didn’t meet safety and environmental standards that were required in other countries, she left her job to forge her own path as she felt strongly that there needed to be an investment to build infrastructure domestically to set the bar for modern manufacturing abroad.
To her astonishment, while working on a project reviewing a restricted substance list for fashion, she discovered that chemicals that were banned from use in apparel were still being used in cosmetics! Knowing that these ingredients were being used sparked her interest in organic beauty, and she has dedicated herself to sourcing the best brands green beauty has to offer, most notably Hynt Beauty and 100% Pure which are both represented in her shop. If having some of the top beauty brands isn’t enough, for those of you looking to take a minimalist approach to your wardrobe, Alison also has taken to creating an organic and sustainable capsule wardrobe for each season which is available at Salud Shoppe as well. For the conscious shopper who wants both clean beauty and Eco fashion, Alison’s shop will fit your needs perfectly.
We are delighted to have had the opportunity to have Alison on the blog today to speak more about her journey and to share more about what inspires her in creating the perfect one stop shop for clean beauty and organic fashion. Alison is also talking about how she designed the Winter capsule wardrobe (which is launching on the Salud Shoppe website today!!) and why it is important to be a conscious consumer.
She has very generously provided a 30% off discount code for The Greenly Guide readers as well which will be listed after the interview, so make sure you don’t miss that!
The Greenly Guide: Can you tell us a little about your background and how you became interested in organic beauty and sustainable fashion?
Alison: I grew up the middle child of a California State Park Ranger Dad and a Nurse Mom. That meant we spent most of our lives moving around and living in different parks across California, learning about park wildlife, meeting campers and visiting Historical Sites on our vacations. My most vivid memories started when we lived near Lake Tahoe and my mom would take us through ‘secret’ paths to find pristine lakeside beaches that were literally untouched but for the 4 of us. Later in my life, I moved to San Francisco and eventually ended up in New York City- a far stretch from my days living in the open fields of the State Parks but so much closure to the creative, city environment I saw on MTV when I visited my Grandma. As soon as I learned how to sew, I was making clothes for myself and sketching designs on people I would name and keep in my sketch book. I think I was about 11 when I started building collections on paper.
I became interested in sustainable fashion before organic beauty. I worked about 15 years in apparel as a designer and product developer and eventually specialized in sustainable apparel with a company called prAna in San Diego. In my role there, I was lucky enough to be involved in sustainable material development, chemical management and ethical sourcing initiatives. I worked with my team to launch prAna’s first Fair Trade apparel in the USA and convert our apparel collection to organic and sustainable materials and became the first brand to launch bluesign certified active wear. Each year we would raise the bar and the team would just knock the goals out of the park.
My interest in organic, non toxic beauty products came after a long project working on vetting our Restricted Substance List (RSL) at work and I realized there were chemicals banned from use in apparel that were still totally used in make up products. My very first email was to a company called NYX – they used PVC in their lipliner and it was banned from use in apparel. Another example is phthalates that are key in synthetic fragrances and are also used in waterproof finishes that were getting banned at the time.
The Greenly Guide: What is the story behind how you came to the decision to open Salud Shoppe and why did you decide to showcase both natural beauty and Eco fashion?
Alison: I always envisioned building a life as an entrepreneur even at an early age. It took another 20 years to hone in on my aesthetic point of view and align them with my values to come to the idea of Salud Shoppe. Then, the decision just hit me in my gut. I came home one day and told my husband, “I’m giving notice tomorrow, I want to start this business.” He knew from the first day he met me that I wanted to start something, he just never knew when. I didn’t even tell my family before then because I wanted to listen to my heart, deep inside my heart.
The bigger vision was to delve into this industry that I love so much bring the modern, East Coast sensibility that I have along with this California soul of love and kindness. My parents were both hippies so I have no problem embracing those values, but I was born in Long Beach and lived in NYC so I definitely haven’t ever been able to let go of the more refined urban sophisticate in me.
I chose to offer both eco fashion and natural beauty because I was living a pretty fast pace lifestyle and traveling a lot. I wish I’d been able to rely on a brand or shop that did the technical research for me while keeping a modern aesthetic. Ethical manufacturing, sustainable materials and non toxic beauty products became the soul of what we do.
The Greenly Guide: We love that you curate a capsule wardrobe collection for your shop each season – for those who may not be familiar with the concept, what is your definition of a capsule wardrobe?
Alison: I appreciate the idea of a capsule collection way more in my 30’s that I did in my 20’s. A capsule collection is a small batch, highly edited collection that is achieved with timelessness and seasonal relevance above anything else. We have a turtleneck bodysuit in the winter collection that may not have resonated a few seasons ago, but now, it’s totally versatile and on-trend. It’s amazing how many ways you can style a capsule collection and start adding personal touches like a vintage watch, a statement shoe or vintage luxury hand bag.
The Greenly Guide: For someone new to the idea of a capsule wardrobe, what are a few simple suggestions you have on how to begin building a solid minimalist collection?
Alison: A beautiful capsule collection is probably already in your closet, it’s just tucked behind or under a flurry of other items that you just haven’t had the chance to donate yet. The first steps, especially in transitioning to more sustainable buying habits, is to edit down anything synthetic. All those cheap polyester shirts, dresses, jackets and skirts have little to no business in your wardrobe beyond your teens but for a vintage item. Some investment pieces like suiting is ok, and some active wear pieces, otherwise, polyester feels different on the body and is petroleum based meaning that it will never breath like natural fibers and you are using natural resources for something you probably aren’t wearing that much. I think most of us can agree the petroleum is not the best source for fibers.
Once you have edited out synthetics, think in terms of layers. A Modal top, a lightweight wool sweater, a pair of jeans with a 10″-11″ rise flatter almost all women and a pop-over dress to start. I personally start to go astray with my coats but I know those will be with me for a long time and meet the 30 wear standards. Livia Firth promotes buying only if you will wear it 30 times in its lifetime which I can definitely get behind.
The Greenly Guide: Can you discuss some of the challenges you have encountered when searching for ethically and sustainably produced fashion and why it is important to shop consciously?
Alison: One of the biggest challenges has been with brand style and the somewhat muddy waters around what is sustainable and ethical. For example, there is a brand that I loved for its edgy play on using remnants and therefore using sustainable materials, but if the remnant is rayon, that material was actually quite caustic to manufacture. The same with synthetics, right? Its such a grey area. I think there are a lot of brands in the outdoor market doing awesome things, but even though I grew up in the outdoors, I don’t want to look like I did.
Another example I like to use when shopping consciously, is understanding that US and European fast fashion and corporate brands source millions of units from other countries, ship all those products to the US and guess where it goes when it gets a tear or snag? It goes into our own landfills. Companies like The Renewal Workshop are starting to tackle this problem, but each new season brings more products that have to go somewhere. Even Africa has drawn a hard line saying they will no longer take in all the excess used clothing, choosing instead to promote their own local industries.
Aside from material sustainability, ethical manufacturing has come to the forefront of the industry because of documentaries like True Cost. Before watching it, I thought it may be a dramatic point of view, but after watching it, I felt it was so true to what is really happening in the industry. There really are women who are locked in their dorms with locks on the outside. There really are children working in factories instead of going to school. I went to a factory once where there weren’t any safety guardrails on the third floor – it literally dropped off to the floor below. That factory was right here in the USA.
The Greenly Guide: Can you share with us a little about the Winter capsule and what was your inspiration in designing it?
Alison: Our winter capsule was inspired conceptually by “The Luxury of Time”. I have been in an environment where working late hours was like a badge of honor and it wasn’t until I started working from the studio did I realize that time is the new luxury, not working at a high ranked position, not being overcommitted because so many people need you. The pieces in this collection are more easy wearing, like our Midi Dress with these amazing front patch pockets that are just effortless.
The Greenly Guide: What are some of your favorite or some unique fabrics or materials that you love in Eco-fashion?
Alison: I will always love organic cotton and long staple versions like organic pima. When a yarn is grown to be a silky and soft fiber from the boll onward, you know that is luxury. I don’t want to wash it down to make it feel good. I want it to feel and look inherently gorgeous.
Other fibers I will always love are Lenzing Modal and Tencel. When Lenzing first came out with their collection, you literally couldn’t get your hands on it because they didn’t have enough converters. They created a closed loop process so they can re-use the chemicals that break down the wood pulp, they use FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) farming and they use every part of the tree when it is harvested. They are responsibly innovating, which is what this industry needs.
The Greenly Guide: You also carry some wonderful green beauty brands such as Hynt Beauty, 100% Pure and Saint Cosmetics – how do you choose the brands and products you will carry at your shop?
Alison: The core of the green beauty collection is focusing on non toxic ingredients and product quality. I have bought cosmetics from department stores my whole life and was used to what I thought were luxury ingredients. I wanted products that you could swap based on quality alone.
My first experience sourcing beauty brands was at the Indie Beauty expo where I absolutely hit it off with the brand owners and makers. I met formulators who spoke my language and even educated me on wild harvesting, essential oil blends and were prepared to share traceability documents with me – which is critical in supporting any organic and cruelty free claims.
The Greenly Guide: If you personally could create a capsule makeup collection for Winter, what selection of products would you include?
Alison: I think we ultimately, albeit unintentionally, did this season! Eyes and lips are getting center stage while cheeks are more of the subdued side kick. We embraced this by introducing eye palettes from Saint Cosmetics which are pure velvety bliss and they use Ecocert Talc which is important because talc alone is often as risk of contamination. Along with a versatile eye palette, Hynt Beauty Volumizing Mascara, 100% Pure Cosmetics matte lipstick and our Saint highlighter to define your cheekbones and upper cupids arrow.
The Greenly Guide: Anything else you would like to add?
Alison: I have so much hope and optimism for our sustainable lifestyle community. Time and again I have met brands, makers, and customers that are both men and women who care deeply about changing our apparel and cosmetics industry for the better. I have experienced nothing but inclusivity and kindness which makes pushing through the hurdles of a more seasoned fast fashion and luxury beauty market worth while. I hope, in my lifetime, that we have made the kind of changes with product innovation, legislation and community action that our future generations will be able to take the baton and run with it.
Ready to do some shopping!?
If you are looking to pick up some of the new 100% Pure Matte Lipsticks, the incredibly popular Hynt Beauty Nocturne Mascara or refresh your wardrobe with a few sustainable pieces, this is the perfect opportunity!
Thank you so much to the lovely Alison for sharing her story with us here on the blog today. She is creating something very special with Salud Shoppe and we cannot wait to see what the future holds for this incredible marketplace.
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