Interview with the founder of Distinctively Me
In today’s interview, we speak with the founder of Distinctively Me, Jill White to find out what motivated her to set up a business that focuses on bespoke made to order pieces, and why timeless styles are important for sustainability. Distinctively Me offer a collection of tailored garments make the perfect foundation for any capsule wardrobe.
Thank you for wanting to be part our exclusive network. What were your reasons for joining us and investing in the Ethical Brand Directory / Academy and community?
I recently met Roberta and realised we were totally aligned in our objectives to offer women the choice to buy clothes that they would love and therefore wear time and again. This is the antithesis of Fast Fashion. It tends to be smaller brands who are trying to slow fashion down and so collaborating with other brands allows us all to have a louder voice in the market place.
Can you give me a brief overview of your brand and the type of products you sell?
Distinctively Me is a women’s made to measure clothing brand. Our range is a collection of timeless classics that feature in women’s wardrobes year in year out as well as each season. Tailored jackets, trousers, skirts, dresses and blouses made in the highest quality fabric to last. We believe every woman should have beautifully made clothes irrespective of their size, shape or age.
1. We make clothes only when they are ordered, so there is no waste
2. We source the highest quality fabrics possible from the UK and Italy, and where possible the fabrics are made of natural materials
3. All of our clothes are made here in the UK. We know each of our tailors and they are paid a decent living wage
What was your WHY? What inspired you to set up your business?
I realised that despite having 2 bedrooms with wall to wall wardrobes full of clothes, I wore a fraction of them, and my personal waste levels were appalling. The clothes I wore were the ones that fitted me, had simple timeless style, and were made in luxurious fabrics. I struggled to find clothes that fitted my shape and size, and thought there was a gap in the market for a made to measure offering
What challenges do independent brands like yourself face?
We are competing with huge multinational companies for share of voice and share of wallet. Small independent brands do not have the marketing funds that the major brands have, so it is difficult to be able to tell potential customers that we are here and what we offer. That is why EBD is such a great opportunity for us. Our customers love are made to measure service, really value the range we offer and appreciate that we make everything in London – we just need to let more people know about us.
Why is it important to be ethical in business?
I worked in the corporate world, one of my main struggles was the fact that lots of decisions are based around financial rather than ethical considerations. Distinctively Me allows me to put my personal values at the heart of what we do. Respect and integrity are key values in our business and private lives. We respect our customers, our team, our suppliers and the community we operate in. We believe we need to do the right thing for our planet, so we make clothes that will be loved and last.
What is the link to your page on ethics on your website?
What steps are you taking to ensure your brand operates as ethically as possible?
1. We only make when there is customer order so there is no waste
2. We know where most of our products are made and develop relationships with our suppliers to ensure quality and integrity
3. Our team are treated with respect and paid a decent living wage
4. We make in London to reduce our carbon footprint
How important is sustainability for businesses? What are you doing in your business to reduce your environmental impact?
Sustainability is key to our business. We are passionate about slowing fashion down. We support buying for style rather than fashion.
As a small business, we do not always have the influence on our fabric suppliers that we would like, but we continue to find the most ethically responsible suppliers.
What are you not doing in your business but want to improve on?
High quality, natural fibres are not always washable, and we would love to be able to offer a more environmentally friendly option to dry cleaning. We love BLANC who offer eco-cleaning but the service is only offered in London at the moment. We love colour too and would like to explore more natural dying methods.
What is the link to your page on sustainability on your website?
What is your supplier and sourcing policy?
Fabric is the major area of supply for us. We select our suppliers based on sourcing the highest quality fabrics from countries where we trust their operating practices – mainly UK and Italy. We develop trusting relationships with each of them. We try to work with suppliers who produce quantities to order rather than mass produce.
In 10 years from now where would you like to see the fashion/beauty/travel world? From a business and a consumer perspective
I’d love to see a fashion industry that has slowed down! An industry that recognises that women come in all shapes and sizes, and that we don’t stop wanting to look stylish after 40! From a consumer perspective, I’d love women to understand their body shapes and have the opportunity to buy clothes that fit and flatter them. That way they will buy clothes they love and will wear for many years, as they feel great in them.
Do you have any favourite ethical and sustainable quotes, or any key influencers that inspire you?
Caryn Franklin – “I look at sustainable fashion as a broad spectrum. It is a production of design that has not exploited the worker or does not exploit the self-esteem of the wearer or the buyer by portraying unachievable body ideals. There is a full circle to sustainability, it’s not just resourcing, it’s a motion.”
Stella McCartney – “I’m a big believer in something is better than nothing. The smallest thing can have an impact. We all have to be conscious about how we consume and how we make.”
Why should the general public care about supporting ethical and environmentally responsible brands?
It will take a change in demand to influence the major brands to change the Fast Fashion model as it very lucrative for them. I speak to so many women who feel let down by the High St but still buy there as it easy. Small brands tend to really embrace sustainability and being ethical as the owners start the business from a place of passion. With public support, the smaller brands can offer real change.
Check out their EBD listing: