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Garik Himebaugh, founder of Eco-Stylist, on the journey that led him to create an ethical and sustainable clothing marketplace for men
“My longterm vision for Eco-Stylist is really to put myself out of business. I really want to get to a point where every brand is sustainable and ethical, where we can trust all brands…I think it would be amazing if there wasn’t a need for this [an ethical and sustainable marketplace].”
Q & A with Garik Himebaugh
1. City of residence:
Iowa City, Iowa
2. Place of birth:
Charleston, South Carolina
Although I was born in South Carolina, I don’t remember it much. I grew up in the Northern Virginia side of the Washington, D.C. area.
3. In under five sentences, define your business:
Eco-Stylist is a marketplace for dapper and sustainable men’s clothes. Our curated shop offers over 150 items from over 30 brands.
We research every brand on our platform with Remake’s sustainable brand criteria. This black & white framework looks at sustainability holistically, asking if brands invest in worker wellbeing, pay living wages, use sustainable fabrics, conserve water, use fewer chemicals, use recycled packaging for shipping, and a lot more.
We also offer men’s personal styling via Skype.
4. What social or environmental impact is your business making?
It’s our customers who make all the impact.
When you use Eco-Stylist to buy clothes your dollars are supporting good jobs, safe working conditions, and living wages for the people who make your clothes. You’re also supporting brands that are working to minimize their environmental impact, using more sustainable fabrics, and innovating more sustainable practices for the future.
We make it easy for you to put your dollars to work by curating stylish clothes from the most sustainable and ethical brands out there. We’re also members of 1% for the Planet.
5. What is the best part of the work you’re doing? Why?
Being able to support brands that are changing the world.
The brands Eco-Stylist partners with are changing the way business is done by showing that business can be a force for good and still make a profit.
At this point in time, I think we all expect businesses to exploit people and harm the environment. It’s become the status quo.
It’s refreshing to know that brands and the people behind them are out there changing that paradigm and that we can all be a part of that change.
6. What are three tips you can share to help us all become wiser (i.e. ethical/sustainable) consumers?
1. When you can, buy used or try a clothing swap. Buying used can look like Thredup, Patagonia’s Worn Wear, Taylor Stitch’s Restitch, or Goodwill, to name a few. Swap Society is an online clothing swap you can do anytime.
2. When buying new, I highly recommend using a marketplace. The more brand research I do the more I realize there are brands out there greenwashing and yet those brands are still being promoted as sustainable in lots of blog articles. Marketplaces have clearly defined processes for brand research and when you find one you trust it can make finding good brands much easier. Of course, it doesn’t have to be my marketplace. 3 sources I trust are Eco-Stylist, Remake, and GoodonYou.
3. Friends don’t let friends throw away their clothes. Americans throw away ~80 pounds of clothes per person per year. That’s crazy. I wrote a short resource guide for more sustainable options including selling, donating, recycling, and swapping. Click here to read.
7. What book(s) are you currently reading?
Legacy: The Sustainable Development Goals in Action
The Wind Up Bird Chronicle – Haruki Murakami
The War on Normal People – Andrew Yang
8. Quote you (try to) live by?
“I am the solution to all of my problems”
It’s more an epiphany than a quote. It dawned on me while I was thinking about perspective and how it applies to problem-solving, design thinking, and entrepreneurship.
When I am struggling or failing, I like to take a step back and ask what I could be doing better or differently. That helps me reframe the problem in a way that’s constructive and come up with new solutions.
9. Using one word, how would you describe yourself?
Student. If nothing else, I am learning.
10. What is one random fact that most people don’t know about you?
In 2010 I went on a peacebuilding study abroad trip to Liberia. It was part of my undergraduate studies program in Conflict Analysis & Resolution at George Mason University.
Even though we were working closely every day with local civil society organizations, I didn’t feel like I was actually helping them or teaching them anything new. In contrast, I could write a book about what the people and the experience taught me.