When I began Pink & Posh, it was mainly to help other mom-preneurs, like myself, have a more economical marketing outlet. Since September of last year, I have written reviews and hosted giveaways for over 50 different companies ranging from the smallest work from home mom boutiques (like mine) to multi-million dollar corporations who specialize in products perfect for women. Until now, though, I never had the opportunity to "really get to know" who I was promoting other than what was stated on their websites. Well, thanks to the lovely ladies at Style House PR I recently had the opportunity to interview JoAnn Ciaramello, the owner and creator of Planet Threads, an eco-conscience boutique with some of the most fashionable "green" attire you can find. Check out the Pink & Posh exclusive interview:
P&P: Tell us a little about your business and what sets you apart from the many other boutiques on the web?
JoAnn: PlanetThreads.com offers our customers an easy way to change up their clothing choices to eco-friendly alternatives that are just as cool, trendy and high-quality as what you would find in any store or boutique, with pricing that is easy on the wallet as well. Making eco-fashion accessible is really they key to making change, and having everyday fashionistas realize that it doesn’t involve a sacrifice in style or in cost. I also have to say that we really have great customer service and our customers really take note.
P&P: Do you have a history in fashion and when did you know earth friendly fashion was what you wanted to do for a living?
JoAnn: I worked in retail for a major department store while I was attending school and basically spent every penny I made on clothing. I was hooked at that point and really wanted to go into fashion but chose the more practical path and went into business instead. My parents were also very early adopters of environmental awareness so it’s just always been a part of my life. Recycling, eating locally grown produce, and making intelligent purchasing decisions, whether that means buying chic vintage items or supporting good companies, has always been so important to me and thus to my family now. So I seem to have come back to what I always wanted to do, which is fashion the best way that I know how – in an earth-friendly way!
P&P: Do you find it more difficult to find designers offering eco-friendly apparel and accessories that you consider fashionable?
JoAnn: I do find it difficult and spend a great deal of time researching designers and surfing sites and twittering (@planetthreads) to find new lines and products that are both eco-friendly, interesting and stylish. One can only sell and wear so many organic cotton message t-shirts! I see a lot of those and I think they’re great, but for PlanetThreads.com I’m looking for really talented designers who also happen to use amazing earth-friendly fabrics like bamboo, organic supima cotton, modal, and also brands that overall utilize environmentally friendly techniques. PlanetThreads.com is a hub for fashionistas who care about the look and feel of their wardrobe, but also what’s behind it. My research will never stop, so PlanetThreads.com will always have an evolving line of designers and products to introduce.
P&P: How do you ensure these designers live up to your strict environmental standards?
JoAnn: I look for certifications from various organizations such as SKAL and GOTS certification. Many designers also work under Fair Trade rules, so that is a standard that speaks for itself. Plus I research the designers and find out information about them from other reliable sources such as Treehugger.com and other environmental magazines and websites. I also believe that if a designer or business associate is striving to become greener in their business practices day after day, in small steps, I believe that that criterion works for the greater good too. Sometimes small steps lead to broad jumps. I find myself still improving every day with my food buying decisions, the eco-friendly clothing and accessories that I wear (and get my friends and family to wear!), buying environmentally friendly cleaning supplies, and even more recently the organic and natural make up and skin care items that I can’t live without. Just starting somewhere leads one to other paths.
P&P: Just how “green” is Planet Threads? (Loaded question, right?)
JoAnn: PlanetThreads.com is pretty green! We keep trying to do more every day. Under my blog-in-Progress on the site, entitled PT Lab, I have listed the many ways in which we are green and also striving to be greener every day. An online store is inherently eco-friendly because the energy we use to be “open for business” is far less than a brick and mortar retail store uses, let alone a whole shopping mall or plaza. You don’t have to drive your car to our store, either! We are evolving, and now that we have routines and patterns, we are even amending those to be more environmentally friendly.
P&P: I notice you offer ALMOST every type of fashion in your boutique. Almost, because I don’t see shoes! (My obsession!) Are there any eco-shoe designers out there and do you plan to offer these in the future?
JoAnn: I love shoes too and they are coming soon. I am researching that right now and have a few that I’m working with. I do have to control myself, though, because I do sample a lot of my items and one sample leads to another sample…
P&P: Of all your products, which would we catch you wearing most often?
JoAnn: I have to say that most times I’m dressed to workout, run around town, and grab dinner with the kids and hubby. So I’m in avani activewear, Mission Playground, and I love my Kate Organic sailor pants. They are my favorite most comfortable lounge pants that look dressy too. I also love the Good Society denim. Really chic looking jeans that are eco-friendly. I also wear my Amy Bengtson Cherry Blossom Oval Shaped Earrings, like, every day. I love the oval shape because it’s so unique.
P&P: Since the launch of planetthreads.com on Earth Day 2009 (how appropriate!), how has your life changed?
JoAnn: Busier, more stressed, but happier, too! As I said before, being environmentally aware has always been important to me and my family, but I have found that since the launch of this business that my kids are even more aware. They must just hear me talking about it even more! They are shutting off lights, water, and tell me they are “re-using” everything. I’m even getting my husband to change his ways. He recently told me he needs new shirts and suggested some organic ones. I knew at that point in time that I had succeeded.
P&P: What tips can you give to moms who would like to become more eco-conscience in the way they live?
JoAnn: Just start somewhere. Organic food choices are the best place to start. The less ingredients in foods, the healthier they are because nothing bad is added! Environmentally friendly cleaning products are good ways to change over too, people underestimate how much their cleaning products permeate the air in the house. I have customers who have ordered one item from us, then another, then another, and are building a wardrobe based on earth-friendly attire. I mean, literally started with an organic cotton hat and now purchasing ecoSkin dresses to wear to holidays and weddings. Now that’s cool! You can do that with a resource like PlanetThreads.com because our prices are so easy.
P&P: Being a mom of 2 boys as well as a new business owner, are there any secrets you can share in achieving your own work/life balance?
JoAnn: I think the secret to maintaining a balance in life, especially when one’s a mom, is to make sure to put yourself on the list. There has to be “me time” somewhere in your life. Mine, since the time my first son was born, has been going to the gym. I needed to get some of that stress out and relax a little and the baby jogger wasn’t cutting it for me. So I did some research into childcare at health clubs and found one that was really great, and it worked out well for me, and my son. Both of my sons are active and know that mommy has a healthy lifestyle so that means they have to also.
Be sure to check out Planet Threads to get started (or continue) your "going green" wardrobe. It's good for the Earth and it's good for your style!