Living the Wellmade Life
Making sustainable clothes in small batches in NY and Puerto Rico
Auralís creates beautiful clothing with a sustainable relationship to the planet as priority. Timeless pieces that are practical and fashion forward with an Urban Tropical flair that encompass a spirit of city and island all in one wardrobe. Every piece is made responsibly with love and care, using only organic, sustainable, natural or recycled fabrics. Each collection is produced in New York and Puerto Rico.
- What do you think makes a job good for the planet?
- For me, a job that solves a problem and doesn't create more problems, is a good for the planet job.
- Who/ What did you come across lately that has been inspiring your work?
- I think Manufacture NY and the Brooklyn Fashion Design Accelerator are both fantastic initiatives and all of the made in America re-emergence over the last 10 years has been so inspiring. The fact that the "movement" and the consumer demand for ethically produced items is growing at lightening speed, finally, inspires me everyday. There is an ever growing international community of "do gooders" that I am a part of. I feel very blessed to be able to say that.
"The planet is a priority in everything that we do. It keeps us up at night, we are always learning about it; it’s our eco-venture."
- What/ who are some of the biggest inspirations on your ethic ?
- After Auralis Studio was in year 2, I learned that even though I was ethically concerned with so many parts of the product lifecycle process, in order to make it a successful business model I was going to have to choose at most 3 things/causes to focus on. I chose, waste, water and fair trade because I am the most passionate about those. My brand follows the slow fashion model. The dyes are non toxic and natural most of the time, done in small batches and manufactured in NY and Puerto Rico where the minimum wage and the working laws are consistent. I am transparent about every process of what I do.
- Who are a few of the people that helped you along the way? How did they help?
- I have always considered myself very fortunate to live in New York in a time where everyone is evolving, questioning everything and changing what they don't like. Over the years I have been lucky enough to amass a great support group that includes, family, friends from Puerto Rico and colleagues. But if I had to pin point who specifically, I would say that my mother has been the ultimate cheerleader my entire life. She raised 3 kids by herself and still managed to sew everything I sketched, for myself and my dolls, on the weekends and after she came home from work.
Also Tara St.James from Study NY has been an awesome colleague, friend and resource about everything from where to find organic cotton to what does one do about wire hangers.
And Christine Helm from FIT's enterprise center, she hired me to teach and has always been a someone I can talk to.
- What is the oddest job you had to take along the way to get by?
- Ja! I love this question. 2012 was a tough year, I walked dogs, babysat & made props for photo shoots in NYC. I had to sew 2 huge canvas camping tents for a "glamping" look book photoshoot. I had to do it in the same studio where they where spray painting a van for the same shoot. I got so sick with the paint fumes after I finished! The tent however, ended up gorgeous.
- When did you discover the passion for what you do now?
- In 2007 after formerly studying fashion design in Philadelphia and working as a fashion designer for 5 years in New York City... I started to wonder about the sustainability of what I was doing for a living. What was the environmental effect of all this clothing being made overseas, sold all over the world and discarded so quickly? I was starting to feel very, very useless. It was a turning point. I realized it was important for me to be of service. I knew that I wasn't going to change career paths, but I wanted to do what I loved, without the planet having to pay for it. This is how I started getting involved in sustainable fashion.
- What is a place in nature that leaves you in awe?
- I have two. There is a waterfall near my dad's house in Naguabo, PR called " Las Tinajas" and it is a set of natural slides because the rocks are so smooth. I have only been once with my dad and my brothers, but it was unforgettable. There is also a magical beach in Culebra, a little island off the east coast of PR.
The beach is called Flamenco, and it has about 1 mile where the water doesn't go higher than your knees and you can just float, all day.
- What are some day to day tips you have for things that everyday people could do that would benefit the planet?
- Other than the usual, carrying a water bottle, taking your own bag to the grocery store, compost at home etc... One thing I don't do, that I believe more people should also not do, is dry clean anything. Even if the label of a piece of clothing says so, most likely it can be steam cleaned or hand washed at home. Dry cleaning is super toxic and even though there is now organic dry cleaning, good old soap and water never fail.
- What daily rituals help get your creative juices flowing?
- I am a compulsive list maker. I also do affirmations and I meditate.
- What are a few things in your line of work that would really make an impact on the planet, if people started implementing them today?
- I think that before any designer decides to take a product to market, they should put their ego aside and ask themselves:
Does this really need to exist?
What problem is it solving?
Who is it all for?
Where does it all really go?
If you have a valid answer for all the questions then you proceed.
From the consumer standpoint I personally research and weigh all my options in terms of the carbon footprint of whatever it is I am to purchase. In addition, I follow this mantra when purchasing anything from food to shoes: Love it, need it or leave it.
In general I think people should ask more questions about the products being sold to them in all categories. The more questions consumers ask the more transparent brands have to be.
- What is a piece of advice you would give to the younger version of yourself?
- You are not running out of time, slow down, don't be so hard on yourself.
- What’s your life motto?
- It may sound backwards for a motto, but in my book there is never an excuse to be unkind.
So, I try to be kind to everyone I encounter. It's not always easy and I don't always achieve it, but it puts everything in perspective very quickly for me.