Feature Friday! The Sustainable Socialite

Sarah Lader ’20 displaying a collection from The Sustainable Socialite at a pop-up event.

DC: What’s your name, major, and graduation year?

Lader: My name is Sarah Lader and I graduated in December of 2020 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Family Science.

DC: In two to three sentences, how would you describe your startup?

Lader: The Sustainable Socialite curates bold, high quality, unique pre-loved pieces so that you can stand out from the crowd while standing up to fight against fast fashion. We focus on providing a cost-inclusive, size-inclusive collection to make ethically sourced vintage pieces available to anyone who is looking for a way to shop secondhand without sacrificing their love for expressing their individuality through fashion.

DC: At what point did you know you wanted to create your own startup?

Lader: While living abroad, I walked into a tiny vintage shop. For the first time in my life, I was able to not only fit into stunning pieces dating back to the 1940’s, I was able to afford them. I spent hours in the store trying on one-of-a-kind pieces that made me feel as though my individuality was finally shining through my fashion choices. They offered me a job there and I quickly fell in love with the community that surrounded inclusive vintage fashion. I wanted to bring the feelings I had when I first walked into that shop home with me, and foster a loving community around ethical shopping through curated pieces and a love of unique fashion.

DC: What or who is the biggest influence for your startup?

Lader: I really don’t think there is one specific person or thing that has influenced my startup, but rather the general people I surround myself with that have encouraged me to pursue my dream. My parents called me a “people collector” once because of my passion for listening to people’s stories and using their passions as inspiration to grow and learn. I have picked up those who are kind and inclusive, who care about our world, and who have believed in me throughout this journey. I have listened to what people want out of the fashion industry and what trends they wish they had the confidence to pull off, and adapted through that. I continue to be influenced by those I choose to have in my life because of their positive energy, whether that be my mom and dad who encourage me to try new things every day, my friends and boyfriend who have helped me achieve my dreams through successes and failures without ever doubting my capabilities, or my customers who take the time to let me know that they believe in my mission and give me the motivation to wake up every day, excited to share more of what I love with the world. I am incredibly lucky to have these support systems. They are the reason I will always continue to fight for what I believe in, and one of the things I truly believe in is The Sustainable Socialite’s potential.

DC: In the new virtual world, how has your focus or ideas changed?

Lader: I’m definitely someone who loves communicating with people in person and really getting to know my customers through face to face interactions, along with the opportunity to help style them in ways they may not have initially thought of. So in this new way of life, I have had to adapt to keep fostering those relationships. I write cards with every order, I have interactive stories asking for customer opinions and styling help, and I’ve been really focusing on ensuring I’m as active online as possible. I am also planning on launching an online personal stylist service to help people shop for different occasions, answer any questions they have, and assist them in planning bold outfits!

DC: What updates or significant accomplishments can you share with us about your company from the last six months?

Lader: In the past 6 months we have been part of Terp Startup Fellows, which has given us the opportunity to not only pursue more in person (outdoor, socially distanced) pop-up events, where we generate the most revenue, but also to purchase a trailer which we are currently renovating in order to do more events. We have increased from posting once a week to posting up to 7 items per day on our website and instagram, and are currently revamping our internship program to teach people about content creation, ethical fashion, and give students the opportunities to work firsthand with our startup!

DC: If you could give advice to any aspiring entrepreneurs, what would it be?

Lader: You know your business more than anyone else. If you believe wholeheartedly in your idea, if you trust your process and believe in yourself, you can achieve great things. Not everything is going to work, but you can learn from your failures and become stronger through them. This is your vision and you have the ability to make it happen. Not every day is going to be easy, but the experience is unparalleled and the end result is worth it.

For more information about Sarah Lader’s company, The Sustainable Socialite, please visit the website here.

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