An Interview with Elle from ELLERALI
If you’re still not sure what you want to be when you grow up, I have a suggestion for you: you want to be Elle, creator of the ELLERALI fashion brand. Creative, driven, intelligent, and sincere, there is so much to admire about this LA-based marine-biologist-turned-upcycled-fashion-designer. I had the privilege of having a conversation with Elle recently and learned just how much she and her brand have to offer the world.
ELLERALI’s vision is to “recreate the created,” upcycling textiles that businesses and individuals can no longer use to create beautiful and meaningful clothes. Elle’s journey toward creating her own lifestyle brand began several years ago when she was working as a marine biologist in Hawaii, and had to witness firsthand every day what waste and pollution were doing to our planet. Elle developed a passion to change what she saw and joined that drive with her creative mind and talent for sewing to launch a zero-waste, eco-friendly clothing line.
Studies show that nearly 100% of clothing and textiles are recyclable, and yet 90% of clothing is thrown away before the end of its usable life. This means more waste, more harm to the environment, and a growing demand on the textile industry for cheap and quickly-made clothing. This market demand for new clothes not only harms the environment but also fuels human trafficking. ELLERALI addresses these issues by producing upcycled and multi-functional pieces that take demand out of the market for cheap and unethically produced goods, which then decreases the demand for forced labor in the textile industry.
Elle thinks it’s important to remember that our clothes come from somewhere. Her hope is that her pieces encourage customers to, “respect the process that comes from the farmers, the manufacturers, the sewers, the shippers. It’s all these hands that touch all these [clothes] and I want to keep that going instead of just disposing of all the hard work that they put in.”
In becoming a part of the conversation about ethical fashion, Elle realized early on that she wanted her brand to contribute to the human rights component, as well as the environmental component, of sustainability. Last year, ELLERALI partnered with A21 (one of Dressember’s amazing grant partners) for the ELLERALI “Do Better” campaign. As part of the campaign, Elle used some of A21’s outdated T-shirts to create dresses that promoted the organization and started conversations about human trafficking. A portion of proceeds from this dress, the “Freedom” Fly, was then donated to A21.
“These subjects are so hard to talk about,” Elle said. “You can’t just go up to someone and say, ‘Hey, by the way, have you heard of human trafficking?’ And I think that’s why the awareness is so low. Being able to incorporate fashion to spark [these conversations] and then go on from there — I’m giving people the option to look at what I’m wearing and then decide if they want to talk to me. It allows people to approach me when they’re ready.”
If you’ve been tracking Dressember very long, the idea of using clothes to start conversations about human trafficking is probably not new to you. You can imagine that two organizations using fashion (specifically dresses!) to help fight human trafficking would naturally find each other in this crazy world. Elle loves the world-changing spirit of the Dressember community and has a few words of advice and encouragement for our advocates:
Keep fighting the good fight. You have no idea the kind of impact you may have; just one person can spark change and start a movement.
Respect the process that made your clothes. Reduce the amount you buy, reuse what you can, repair clothing that’s damaged, and recycle your clothes when they are at the end of their usable life. And speaking of recycling…
Find out where you can recycle your clean and dry clothes and textiles. You can always donate clothes in good condition to a local thrift store, but Elle says that most major thrift stores (e.g. Goodwill, Salvation Army) will also handle recycling old and unusable fabrics. Find out more about textile recycling here.
If you’ve been reading along and love what you see of this do-good brand, get ready for some good news!
We’re happy to announce that ELLERALI is partnering with Dressember to give away one of their amazing and one-of-a-kind pieces!
Check out the Dressember Instagram for more information and make sure to swing by ELLERALI’s Instagram while you’re at it!
Small Run, Big Impact.
Join us on April 13th for our second annual 'You Can Do Anything in a Dress (or Tie)' 5k. Run in our Los Angeles 5k/Yoga event or run virtually in your own city! Set up your free campaign page and purchase tickets for the LA event today!
About the Author
Erin Flippin King is a freelance writer and editor, loving life in Jonesboro, AR with her husband, Aaron (same name, cute right?) and son, Sam. Erin enjoys dancing like a fool, joking at wildly inappropriate times, spending time in the sunshine, and Dr. Pepper. She recently earned her master's degree in Biblical Studies and Hebrew and shares her writing at erinflippinking.com.