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Life of Alumni: Amy Foster-Taylor on active storytelling, co-creation and the future of our planet

Collage of different fashion related images
Collage of different fashion related images

Written by
Alexandra R. Cifre
Published date
08 November 2019

After learning about the fashion industry's negative impact on the environment, Amy Foster-Taylor joined the MA Fashion Futures at LCF to explore how she could change the industry from within. Her expertise in storytelling combined with her mission to make us reconnect with our planet has led her to co-found and beyond, a platform aiming to empower people and brands to fight together for a more sustainable world. In this interview she tells us about the challenges of becoming an entrepreneur, and how studying at LCF shaped her priorities to become an active voice for sustainable fashion.

LCF MA Fashion Futures alumna Amy Foster-Taylor.

Hi Amy! Tell us a bit about your creative journey. How did you end up studying at LCF?

My journey is a little unconventional. I had always admired LCF but decided to study management and marketing at the University of Exeter, hoping that I could apply the knowledge in fashion. However, when I learnt about the unsustainable nature of the industry, I realised that I could no longer work in marketing.

I saw the MA Fashion Futures and it looked completely different to any course I had seen before. When I went for the interview it turned out to be a great, passionate conversation about much-needed change in the industry, which inspired me even more to study at LCF.

Some MA Fashion Futures alumni have described this course as a self-exploratory journey. How was your experience?

I absolutely loved my time during MA Fashion Futures. I felt incredibly lucky being among a cohort of students who bonded almost instantly. We created a safe environment for conversation and exploration, meaning that we could dive into weird and wacky topics, get existential, and create great ideas together. During the course we were encouraged to quickly create unique prototypes to weekly design challenges and I found exploring different futures and sharing our projects liberating.

Collage created by Amy Foster-Taylor during her research for MA Fashion Futures.

I had many noteworthy moments during my time at LCF: working with Centre for Sustainable Fashion and creating a video installation for the V&A’s Fashioned from Nature exhibition; exploring my ideas with Alexander McQueen as a finalist in the Kering Award 2018; co-founding the drop, and working with artist Lucy Orta and the women at HMP Downview as part of Processions, a mass-participatory art project.

What topic did you explore for your Final Major Project?

My Masters dissertation focused on the role of humans in shaping the course of our collective narrative. It questioned the underlying values that have caused the fashion industry to remain stagnant despite increasing environmental and social damage. I also explored methods and environments that could foster the promotion of intrinsic values amongst fashion professionals to create a better, more empowered industry.

You’ve recently launched your own business and beyond. What can you tell us about it?

and beyond is a space where we share and co-create ideas to empower people to shape a more connected, sustainable world. Grounded in rigorous interdisciplinary research, we have developed the ‘and beyond Framework for Sustainable Change’ which we use for our workshops and consultancy services. This allows us to create spaces that help individuals question their personal values, imagine a better future, and collaboratively create solutions for their ideal world. But this isn’t limited to brands — we believe that these abilities should be learnt from a young age, so we've also created workshops for 11 to 16 years-old students.

We believe that we all have the ability, the power, and the responsibility to overcome our planet’s climate and social crises, yet in order to do this we must be in tune with our intrinsic values.

What are the biggest challenges you’ve encountered as an entrepreneur?

While the idea of being an entrepreneur and making your dreams come to life is hugely exciting, the reality of a start-up is very unsexy and unsociable. It’s easy to compare yourself to your peers who are succeeding in traditional jobs, earning lots of money, and going on holiday. However, and beyond is rooted in the idea that we need to explore beyond our traditional metrics of success. For me, this means working on a business that entirely aligns with my personal values and so is worth the short-term sacrifices.

We are disconnected from each other, our possessions, our planet and ourselves. If we're able to step outside of short-term material gains and power games, we'll be  far more likely to flourish individually, collectively and ecologically.

What piece of advice can you give to new talent entering the fashion industry looking to make a positive impact?

As well as absorbing as much information as possible, spend time thinking critically about the things that really make you happy and feel fulfilled, outside of what we are taught to believe. What issues do you care about? What are you passionate about? What do you enjoy doing? What skills do you have? What future do you want to live in? From this point, you can develop a huge insight into yourself and the areas you can create an impact in that will feel truly meaningful to you.

Alumni can connect with LCF in the following ways:

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