“Today, more and more people are taking the time to stop and think about how their purchase is affecting those that made the product and how the product affects the planet.”
Matt Reynolds, President & Co-Founder of INDiGENOUS Fair Trade & Organic Fashion has a passion for ethical fashion and the people behind it. He co-founded INDiGENOUS because of his compassion for the word’s diverse peoples and cultures.
INDiGENOUS is a certified B-Corp that works with culturally diverse artisans who design and create ethically made fashion. INDiGENOUS operates on a transparent business model to produce eco-friendly fashion. They are working to support and empower communities, individuals and the environment.
What is the future of fair trade and organic fashion?
As we approach the last year of a decade, I think it is fair to say we will see the end of things as we know it. The problems in the fashion industry are becoming more & more transparent to the end consumer. The seeds of fair trade & organic when it comes to fashion are beginning to take root. We enter stores and are faced with more choices than ever before. Our every desire is only one click away. As a society, we are getting used to getting what we want, at the exact moment we want it. Today, more and more people are taking the time to stop and think about how their purchase is affecting those that made the product and how the product affects the planet. In the future, most people will expect to track a products lifecycle as easily as they track postal packages today. This will help rise the tide for demand of genuinely certified fair trade & organic fashion. It is becoming clearer than ever that there isn’t a tradeoff between beauty and ethics; soon we won’t distinguish between Ethical Fashion and fashion, it will just be Fashion: beautiful clothing that is inherently ethical. In 10 years time, brands that don’t commit to being eco-friendly and ethically-sourced are going to be seen as passé and regressive. ‘Business as usual’, is no longer acceptable.
What inspired you to co-found Indigenous Designs?
My path began while I was living in South America as a child with my family. My father, a progressive economist at Stanford University, devoted his life to breaking down inequities of income between the rich and poor in-order to find ways to create opportunities for those who needed it most. The special people I met in South America and their culture were part of my daily life and became part of my DNA. After graduating with a degree in Economics and having a prosperous early career in retail, I realized my heart was searching for more. The marriage of my retail acumen with compassion for the world’s diverse peoples and cultures was a natural personal growth step, and thus my path was chosen to partner up with Scott Leonard on our INDiGENOUS journey.
What keeps you up at night?
Fortunately, I am able to sleep most nights as I go to bed proud of our daily efforts to bridge the gap between humanity & Indigenous wisdom via the platform of ethical fashion. However, recently I have found myself restless at night from frustration over recent events regarding the ever-present unjust treatment of women. It is a horrific circumstance that is rampant in the fashion industry supply chains, today. We care immensely about the artisans working in our INDiGENOUS supply chain, which has been predominantly knit in Peru the last twenty years. We fully comprehend the scope of the problem of unfair treatment of women, as Peru can be a harsh place for women. Lima is ranked as the 5th most dangerous big city for women in the world. We at INDIGENOUS work hard to combat these issues. We fund job training programs, shelters, and childcare for women escaping domestic abuse in the country. Yet supporting our own artisans and leading by example can only go so far to address this overwhelming problem plaguing not just Peru, but the entire world. I sometimes lie awake at night thinking about how we can better communicate the message to simply not support brands—or elected officials for that matter—that neglect, deny, or abuse the rights of women. If we could simply view our $’s as votes for what we believe in. Perhaps, together, we could make a major difference. Together, we can ensure that #fashionempowers.
Fifty years from now, what do you hope will be different about the world?
I read recently that there will be approximately 50 billion connected devices in the world in the next 3 years. In 50 years time, we will be in an even more hyper-connected world. What will our attention spans be like? LOL. Squirrel!
Seriously, the internet will transform our educational platforms and programming will transform transportation, and renewable energy will transform energy. The trend of “Boundaryless” will be the norm. Education will be available to developing nations. Many believe a thought revolution is imminent in developing nations. In 50 years, existing policies, procedures and governments will be re-invented. Emerging economies will consider themselves global citizens first and foremost rather than national citizens. There is also a chance that images and characters will begin re-shaping language as we know it, by replacing words.
And in regard to transportation, automation and high efficiency carbon neutral transportation will reduce casualty rates to nearly 0%.
In regards to power – solar, wind, hydrogen and fusion will be developed to the point that the infrastructure from natural resources will finally be large enough to run the modern day infrastructure with clean energy. This will be the day when we truly begin to reverse the effects of climate change.
My dream is that these developments in technology, live streaming, transparency, power, etc will bring an end to injustice in the world.
Are you living the life you expected to live?
I feel blessed and thankful for the life I have been given. Although it is easier said than done, I try to wake up each day and appreciate it as if it were my first day and my last day. I am filled with gratitude for my wife, family and career. In regard to expectations, I remember when I was in 1st grade clicking through a hand-held slide projector during a library break. My favorite slide was a cave man cartoon. The caveman was chiseling away at a rock, turning it into a wheel for a cart. Another cave man enters the scene with meat over his shoulder. They look at each other and a light bulb goes off in their head. After trading some meat for the cart. Both men walked away smiling. In bold letters, the last slide said “ENTREPRENEUR”. I went home that day and told my parents that I wanted to be an ENTREPRENEUR. So, I guess you could say I am living the life I expected to live. And I am grateful.