Meet Beth Carroll
Accomplished-knitter, voracious reader, professional plant nerd and ethical fashion advocate, Beth Carroll, generously shared with us about her journey into the world of ethical fashion and offered helpful resources and insight to inspire those of us who might not know where to begin.
Planted in the beautiful and weird city of Austin, TX, Beth lives with her husband, Jason, their 8-year-old son, Jude, and a cat named Nelle Harper Lee. Beth works as the Project and Creative Director for a local environmental non-profit organization that strives to protect and enhance Butler Trail, the city's most heavily used 10-mile loop trail around Lady Bird Lake. Beth's advocacy doesn't stop with trees, nature trails and aquatic plants. She is passionate about using what she has, when she can, to have the greatest possible impact on everyone in the world, especially when it comes to putting an end to contemporary slavery.
As an author of the fashion blog, Dress Well, Do Good, Beth described one of her core values this way: "I truly believe that we are all connected to one another and that all of our individual decisions pull on the intertwined webs of our lives. Each of our actions has an impact on those around us and we are responsible for those actions." This core value of "inextricable connection" pushes Beth to keep moving forward in the fight for freedom, even when it seems insurmountable. "I have been so overwhelmed by it in the past... I couldn't dedicate the mind-power to figuring out another solution. I can't change everything all at once, but I can take responsibility for me and do the little I can bit by bit. I am motivated to continue because I have hope that through small actions, we can change the circumstances for real people."
"I truly believe that we are all connected to one another and that all of our individual decisions pull on the intertwined webs of our lives. Each of our actions has an impact on those around us and we are responsible for those actions."
One small, significant step Beth decided to take was to participate in Dressember. "I didn't jump in until 2014 when I accidentally wore a dress on December 1st, and that was enough of a sign for me to register." Her desire to draw attention to how people are being treated around the world has driven her to participate in Dressember every year since.
Beth has some pretty unique ideas for fundraising and interacting with people about Dressember. She admits how challenging it can be to come out from behind "a carefully crafted digital persona" and actually "talk to people face to face about the darkness," but being part of a team really helped her feel supported in that. Her team "Dress Well: Do Good" has raised over $40,000 in the last two years! "We were able to strategize, bounce ideas and share what worked."
Beth's team's goal this year is $20,000! Talk about facing the challenge head-on! She strategizes with what she has, though, and gives several of her rarely-gifted and never-sold hand-crafted knitted items to random donors. She starts by sending an email to family, friends and last year's donors explaining the cause and asking for their support. She also posts a photograph of herself with a thoughtful caption, paired with an ask each day of the month.
If friends can't give financially but still want to support the work, she asks them to share the campaign page with others. Lastly, she leverages her December birthday for the cause. In lieu of gifts, she asks for donations and on the actual day of her birthday, she matches any and all donations made within the 24-hour period! "The matching campaign often encourages those that were on the fence about donating to jump in and do it. Knowing their donation will be doubled is a huge motivator!"
Beth shared multiple resources with us for anyone just getting started on their personal journey with ethical fashion. "To me, ethical fashion means paying attention and asking good questions about the clothing we wear. It also means thinking about how and at what quantity we consume." When you're thinking about the conditions of the workers and laborers who made the clothes you're buying, it can become uncomfortable. These are thoughts that can easily become overwhelming, so to get your mind keyed in on some main points, Beth suggests, "Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Fast Fashion" by Elizabeth Cline which was a book that helped her get better oriented to the fashion industry. She also recommends watching “The True Cost,” an incredible documentary directed by Andrew Morgan, that will open your eyes and stir your heart as you dive into the depths of this issue. Another excellent resource, The People Label, is organized by friend's of Beth's in Austin, TX and is a resource where you can discover your personal ethical style and find individualized style guides featuring sustainable and fair trade clothing! Resale and consignment shopping is a great place to start, but when you're ready to use your wallet to create real change for laborers, resources like this one can ensure your purchases are something to feel proud of.
If you're looking for shops to browse or Instagrams to follow this holiday season, among Beth's personal favorite places are Elegantees, Noonday Collection, Everlane, Fair Indigo, ABLE, Raven & Lily, Matter Prints, the Root Collective, Vetta, and Sotela... "Oh, there are so many great companies right now, but I'll have to leave it at that." What a joy it was to speak with Beth and hear her insight, wisdom, and suggestions for being more mindful of consumption and how our purchases affect vulnerable workers across the world. I was especially inspired by her gumption to use the specific gifts and resources she has to leave a lasting impact on others! What are you good at and how can you use it to make the world a better place?
About the Author
Allyss Flores is finally a grown up, having turned 30 this year. She is grateful that now, thanks to Dressember, she can fight for justice every December regardless of her life circumstance. Aside from advocating and telling stories, Allyss loves to raise her two small children with her husband deep in the heart of Texas.