Sustainability Weekend: Interview with Jessa Brinkmeyer of Chicago’s Pivot Boutique, the Windy City’s Very First Eco-Fashion Boutique

by Rachel Yeomans | January 24th, 2010   

To continue or our special weekend Sustainability Series, TheWorkingWardrobe is honored to bring you an interview with Chicago’s sustainability maven, Jessa Brinkmeyer of Pivot Boutique, Chicago’s very first eco-fashion boutique.

jessa pivot chicago Sustainability Weekend: Interview with Jessa Brinkmeyer of Chicagos Pivot Boutique, the Windy Citys Very First Eco Fashion Boutique

TheWorkingWardrobe
What is your personal background that inspired you to open Pivot in 2007 as Chicago’s first eco-fashion boutique?

Jessa Brinkmeyer – Pivot Boutique
I studied journalism in college and was working at a small magazine covering fashion stories before opening Pivot. That is when I started learning about the growing eco-fashion industry. I had always been interested in what I could do personally to live a more sustainable life, and when I began to learn about more environmentally responsible fabrics and fashion production I became very passionate about helping people realize they could have more conscious wardrobes without sacrificing style. Opening a storefront where people could come in, interact with the clothes and fabrics and be surrounded by eco-smart design seemed like the perfect way for me to play a role in advancing eco-fashion.

Picture138 Sustainability Weekend: Interview with Jessa Brinkmeyer of Chicagos Pivot Boutique, the Windy Citys Very First Eco Fashion Boutique

TheWorkingWardrobe
Even after so many advancements in sustainability, there are still many who say, “Green is a fad.” What do you say to that?

Jessa Brinkmeyer – Pivot Boutique
To that I say, do you think our environmental problems are a fad? Is pollution a fad? Deforestation? Waning natural resources? Unfortunately our environmental problems and threats to our ecosystem are only going to increase, but hopefully our awareness and desire to take positive action will as well. Another good response to the “fad” statement is also to point out that most major corporations are creating departments devoted to environmental and social responsibility. That type of action doesn’t seem very much like a response to a “fad.” Does it?

TheWorkingWardrobe
Pivot Boutique was known as not just a place for fashion retail, but also a center for eco lifestyle events, education and community building. After closing your storefront in October, do you feel that description has changed and if so, in what way? If not, how so?

Jessa Brinkmeyer – Pivot Boutique
The most difficult part about deciding to close Pivot’s doors was thinking about exactly that – how I worked to make Pivot a center for education, exploration, networking and community. However, I soon realized that I didn’t need my own doors to continue that mission. I have friends and colleagues with doors! And the collaboration and community building efforts Pivot was known for exist within me. So I am very still much around and working within the green community. I am in the planning stages for my first “post-store” event, which will likely take place this spring in Chicago.

TheWorkingWardrobe
Do you see yourself opening another storefront down the road?

Jessa Brinkmeyer – Pivot Boutique
It’s not something I’m thinking about at this point. But that doesn’t mean I won’t be thinking about it in the future. Right now I’m focused on new ways of promoting Pivot’s message of conscious consumerism and smarter living.

Picture139 Sustainability Weekend: Interview with Jessa Brinkmeyer of Chicagos Pivot Boutique, the Windy Citys Very First Eco Fashion Boutique

TheWorkingWardrobe
We’ve come a long way in sustainability being a party of people’s lives over the past 10 years. Where do you see it going from here both in general and in regards to fashion?

Jessa Brinkmeyer – Pivot Boutique
We’ve come a long way in some respects, but there’s still a long way to go. Those of us who are active in the green community through work, social circles or activism often forget that what seems so prevalent and “known” to us is actually often not understood very well in the mainstream. One of my wishes for eco-fashion in 2010 for Chicago is that some of the momentum and interest in local and sustainable food influences people’s ideas about fashion and other lifestyle areas. It’s great to see farmer’s markets crowded, more people growing their own food and greater interest in eating organic. I think those ideas will eventually spread throughout the rest of people’s lifestyle habits and I hope it leads them to thinking more about where their clothes come from, who was involved in making them and what kind of impact the process had on the planet and people.

TheWorkingWardrobe
What do you and Pivot have in store for 2010?

Jessa Brinkmeyer – Pivot Boutique
I will be holding my first Chicagoland event this spring and I hope to launch some new product sets in the online store soon. The products I feature will be some greatest hits from Pivot and some new special finds. They will be offered in limited quantities, so be sure to join my mailing list to keep up-to-date on that or follow me on Twitter @PivotEcoFashion.

I personally am working with other brands who have sustainability-minded messages to share on pr, marketing and product consulting. It’s been exciting meeting new people and learning about new businesses and industries!

TheWorkingWardrobe
You also consult in marketing and media relations to spread the message on sustainability for entrepreneurs and business owners. What is a generic tip or piece of advice you can give the business community on this subject?

Jessa Brinkmeyer – Pivot Boutique
Be passionate and transparent.

Picture140 Sustainability Weekend: Interview with Jessa Brinkmeyer of Chicagos Pivot Boutique, the Windy Citys Very First Eco Fashion Boutique

If you are in Chicago and want to learn more from Brinkmeyer, she is offering a PR workshop along with Jill Logiudice of PR and marketing agency J. Marie Agency, on February 15th. They will be discussing 10 things you can do to jump-start your PR efforts in 2010. Click HERE for more.

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