Can you tell us a little about yourself?
My name is Cassandra Ciarallo and I love reading, being creative and all things sustainable fashion. Thinking I would initially take the accounting route as my career, I graduated from the University of Toronto in 2011 with a degree in Business. After working at BMO Nesbitt Burns for a few years, I was feeling unsatisfied with the desk job and decided I wanted to explore more of the world. I went to teach English in Seoul, South Korea and and backpacked all over South East Asia for 3 months. That experience connected me with artisans in Ubud, Bali who were transforming tire waste into gorgeous accessories! I had the opportunity to work with them, be creative and actually make some pieces myself which taught me all about their story and reason for upcycling. I was so inspired to work with these artisans and that was the moment that ignited my fire to be part of this movement of change. I shortly after started importing their gorgeous accessories to Toronto and proceeded to launch Chic Made Consciously!
What exactly is Chic Made Consciously?
Chic Made Consciously is a fashion accessory brand that infuses style with sustainability. We believe in creating beautiful designs that are unique and trendy, and still have a positive impact on our planet. Our social impact is through working with artisans in Bali, Indonesia who are the incredible craftsmen behind each product. Our environmental impact is through upcycling tires on the island and all over Indonesia. We believe that what we wear tells a story about who we are and we want consumers to know their power in telling a better story.
What inspired you to start Chic Made Consciously?
My journey traveling through Bali and being able to work with the artisans personally gave me insight into the waste problem in Indonesia. In North America we don’t often see all the waste we have because it goes to sit in a landfill. Each island, similarly to Bali, is small which ensures that the waste management issue is directly in your face. There is polution everywhere and I was inspired to be part of this community to help transform waste into something new. It’s also an incredible juxtaposition to see tires looking so delicate and beautiful and educating people on this – that there can be a way to reuse a material we consider to be garbage is incredible to see that shift in perspective.
How did you come up with the name?
The name was inspired by my own initials, Cassandra Maria Ciarallo=CMC, which is how I decided on CMC= Chic Made Consciously! I fell in love with Chic Made Consciously, as it directly tells the consumer what we do -make chic products, in a sustainable and conscious way.
Where are your products sold? Are they sold in stores?
Our products are currently sold online at www.chicmc.com, at various boutiques across Toronto, and in person at pop up events. To stay updated on who our Stockists are and what events we vend at, check out our website and social media @chicmadeconsciously (we often post about our upcoming shows, events, etc.
What is your favorite part about running Chic Made Consciously?
My favourite part about running this business is that I truly feel a sense of purpose. Knowing that I am offering consumers a conscious fashion alternative to the fast fashion that is helping people and planet, gives us the opportunity for people to connect with the bigger picture and the story behind how their item was made. It gives us inspiration to know that people can feel empowered wearing that story of purpose and share a better story with the world. And hearing feedback from the customers themselves on how much they love the product and it’s story always feels like the biggest success!
What is your least favorite part about running Chic Made Consciously?
Oftentimes, running a business as a solopreneur can feel alone. There can be a glamorized version of what being an entrepreneur means and people don’t always realize that. Of course, over time I have built a wonderful community and network of other entrepreneurs for support and I think the main thing is leaning on others and asking for help when it’s needed.
Is there a favorite product?
I have to say that the SACRED MUSE collection I designed last year on my travels back to Bali has been a huge hit! The geometric designs were inspired by a sacred symbol called the Sri Yantra, which is used a lot in Balinese art.
You give back to artisans in Bali, can you tell us about that?
Essentially, what we mean by give back is that we follow the fair trade principles. Meaning, our artisan collective earn fair wages, which they set themselves. They are paid prior to shipping us the goods, and work in safe working conditions with absolutely no child labour. Stay tuned…we will be launching a new collection in May working with another group of artisans in Cambodia! We are happy to give back and support communities by offering employment to workers that would otherwise have trouble finding sustainable income.
How do you spread the word about your company?
A huge part of our marketing is through social media – Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest and Youtube. You can reach us on all those channels @chicmadeconsciously. (I have added links at the bottom of the questions) We also love to network in person at events as it gives customers the ability to meet us, listen to our story, touch and try the product on. Collaborating with media, like this incredible website, @ She’s Fit To Lead also is a great way to spread our mission 🙂
Do you have any advice for fellow entrepreneurs?
It can be incredibly challenging, as I’ve mentioned above, to build something from the bottom up. There are many days that are going to push you down and it’s going to take everything in you to push right back up. But every time you do, you will see the rewards as it makes you stronger and more confident in what you stand for. Stay motivated and keep pushing. Something actionable that has helped me is writing a list of my achievements and when I am feeling down, I read them and remember how far I’ve come.
Do you have a favorite quote or go to saying? ☺
One of my favourite quotes is: “Every dollar you spend, is a vote you cast for the world you want.” – L.N. Smith. The more I have learned about the power of our purchases, the more I truly believe this statement. Think about who you’re buying from and if their message aligns with your own values. If you aren’t sure, ask questions to find out more about the story like “where did this come from? How was it made? Who was affected by this?” By being conscious consumers we can actively play a role in creating a better, more sustainable future!