We had the good fortune of connecting with Carys Garvey and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Carys, what was your thought process behind starting your own business?
I’ve started two companies in the past year as a high school senior to address critical environmental issues — I developed a sustainable clothing company (www.alamode-usa.com) and established a non-profit environmental education organization (www.4ourplanet-usa.org).
Many of my teenage peers constantly strive to be “on trend” when it comes to their clothing choices. People think teens are unaware of the negative environmental effects of their purchases of cheaply made, unsustainable clothing from fast fashion companies, but in recent years, I’ve observed that this is not always the case. Many teens do understand the benefits of environmentally friendly apparel and want to purchase it, but they don’t have anywhere to spend their money! Although there are sustainable clothing companies, there aren’t many that are specifically geared towards teens. I created À La Mode (https://www.alamode-usa.com) to fill that niche.
I started my brand, À La Mode, in August 2020 when I was 17 years old. À La Mode is an eco-friendly clothing and fashion company providing apparel and accessories to teenage girls. À La Mode’s core values are inclusivity, sustainability, and integrity. To support these values, I currently sew all of À La Mode’s items using environmentally friendly materials (such as organic cotton, bamboo, and peace silk) and deadstock vintage fabrics. Additionally, almost all of the clothing items I sell come in various sizes (unless I’m using a vintage deadstock fabric with a very limited supply). I’ve also created an easy access, web-based store for À La Mode, with my main customer base on Instagram.
So far, some of my accomplishments with À La Mode include reaching more than 100,000 people through social media, being featured in BINGE Magazine and Digital Girl Magazine, and receiving 67 website orders in the first four months after my website went live.
Which brings me to my second company – all profits from À La Mode go towards 4 Our Planet (http://4ourplanet-usa.org/), a non-profit [(501(c)(3) status pending], student-led organization I started to educate K-12 students about the effects that various industries have on our environment; 4 Our Planet also teaches students how to adopt sustainable practices to live an eco-friendly lifestyle. I just led my first virtual 4 Our Planet workshop with a turnout of over 50 attendees. I educated participants about the negative environmental impacts of the apparel/fashion industry, as well as how they can make eco-friendly buying choices as consumers. In addition, I’m organizing several virtual workshops in the upcoming months for Ventura County schools and community groups.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
As I write my responses to these questions, I am sitting on my paint-stained carpet, surrounded by the whimsically painted walls of my bedroom; creativity plays a crucial role in my life — I manifest creativity in a variety of ways, from visual art, to music, to innovative ways of spreading political messages.
I’ve used my artistic skills to positively affect my community; for example, I participated in the “Ventura County Fair Poster Contest” three years in a row, consecutively winning the titles of third, second and then first place. The fair used my poster to advertise throughout Ventura County, and to raise money by selling posters and t-shirts.
Over the past 6 months, I’ve created digital art pieces and animations spreading support for the BLM movement and for mail-in USPS ballots — I reached a total of 75,000 people through social media with these art pieces, spreading awareness and useful voter information.
I also express my creativity through music. I grew up taking piano and vocal lessons, and I began using these skills in songwriting and music production during high school. Additionally, I’ve been taking music classes at Ventura College, which allows me to apply music theory and technology to my own compositions. For example, I wrote a song titled “Barbie Doll,” in which I used my knowledge of melodies, chords and rhythms to highlight the message of the song, which criticizes society’s unrealistic expectations of women (from photoshopped, unrealistic figures on social media and magazines to the booming plastic surgery industry). I produced this song with the help of a local musician, and filmed a music video with a local film director. The final product was a culmination of visual, linguistic and auditory creativity, conveying a theme that encourages the listener/viewer to cultivate and cherish his/her own individuality. “Barbie Doll” reached 180,000 people across multiple streaming platforms, and I received heartwarming messages from viewers — it was truly an amazing experience to witness the impact that my expression of creativity had on people.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I would take them to Griffith park – I love the nature there, as well as the observatory and the old LA zoo. I loved photographing the abandoned LA zoo (photography is also one of my interests!). To eat, I would go to Cafe Gratitude, a plant-based, farm-to-table restaurant with values of gratitude and self-love.
If I could take my friend to my home town, Ventura, I’d take them to the beach (surfer’s point or C Street) and to the downtown area. Then I’d take them to my favorite restaurant (also where I currently work), Harvest Cafe, a sustainable, farm-to-table restaurant. The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I would like to dedicate my shoutout to my dad, Tim Garvey, for supporting me and educating me about environmental issues; from observing his determination and leadership within the environmental science field, I grew passionate and inspired about educating others about our environment.
Isaiah E. Kajumba