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Let a short course grow your sustainability practice
When asked what encouraged her to do Promoting Sustainability in Fashion Online Short Course, Greta Flores’ reason is simple: “I got inspired to do the course because of the social problems that fast fashion is causing around the word.”
Greta works as a corporate lawyer for British Telecom in Mexico and has a masters degree Corporate Social Responsibility and Sustainability. Unsurprisingly, finding ways to improve the way we consume resources and treat the environment are paramount in Greta’s line of work, but her passion for all things sustainability doesn’t stop with her professional work.
“In addition to being a lawyer, I write about sustainability topics in the NGO “te protejo Mexico”. This is mostly dedicated to animal rights in relation to make-up production, but I write about a lot of things related to sustainability, even how to buy clothes in a consciousness way.”
“I also collaborate with Fashion Revolution Mexico in order to help new members, most of them college students, to become more sensitive about social problems in Mexico because of production and buying fast fashion.”
Greta’s passion for sustainability is echoed by Gema Terol who works as a Sustainability Content Manager in Barcelona. Gema also took part in the Promoting Sustainability in Fashion Online Short Course and says alongside being a proud feminist and activist, her core values are sustainability, diversity and equality.
As a result of her work in generating content, Gema is familiar with working with a wide range of well-known brands. But it was only after she reassessed her own consumer habits, that the work she did began to sync up with her own values.
“I’ve worked for multiple brands for several years, participating in the development of their communication campaigns in different advertising agencies. After starting a more conscious path in my consumption habits, I decided to focus my work on content generation that would allow my clients to express their values in a better way. I truly believe in storytelling as a tool to tell stories that connect with the consumer's ideas, emotions and experiences,” Gema explains.
Wanting to improve her understanding and awareness of sustainable fashion, Gema decided to book on to a short course to help her get started. “I had heard some good reviews about UAL's short courses, so I trusted one of the best fashion schools in the world,” Gema says.
Much like Greta and Gema, Genaro Rivas also believes in a future where sustainability is king. The self-taught fashion designer and entrepreneur from Lima, Peru attended the Introduction to Sustainable Fashion for Professionals and Brands Online Short Course. Being a designer, Genaro knows a thing or two about the importance of using sustainable materials. In fact, he is famed for making the first dress in Latin America using 3D printing that included all sustainable materials.
“Having my collections being made in workshops with artisans who helped their families by making my ideas come to life, it’s amazing. I'm proud of my Peruvian background and the amazing materials that we have here. My main goal is to showcase them around the world and create a fashion industry in my country,” Genaro tells me.
As such, learning about how to improve and implement sustainable practices in every facet of his work as a fashion designer and entrepreneur seemed like the most logical step forward in Genaro’s long-term plan.
With all three students on their respective short courses, they all said they loved being able to interact with other students from around the globe and to come together to discuss the topic of sustainability.
“The opportunity to listen and learn from my classmates which was very interesting because they were from different countries, Greta says. Gema adds: “Although it was a short course, it's pretty intense. I enjoyed the streaming sessions where we were able to discuss our assignments with the rest of the students.”
Gema also enjoyed learning not only from the course and its content, but from the other students on the course who helped her put a lot of what she learned into context.
“I met some incredible students with different professional backgrounds that helped me make better use of the knowledge from the course. Also, it was pretty amazing realising that we were people from different countries who even lived in different time zones meeting at in one place to talk about sustainable fashion!”
On the topic of time zones, Genaro says he was impressed at how much information he was able to consume, despite the less-than-ideal wake-up call for the course.
“Even though I had to wake up at 3am to make it into class, the amount of information I learned that allowed me to discover more things and develop my passion for sustainable fashion was truly amazing. Beyond that, I’ve been able to put all this new information into my own business.”
Meanwhile, Greta’s favourite aspect of the course was learning the harsh truth about some of her beloved brands.
“It was great learning about the differences in fashion and culture and how its consumed differently in other countries around the word. But I also liked knowing that a lot of brands that I used to admire simply because of their marketing campaigns don’t comply with environmental or labour laws.”
Since doing the course, Genaro is happy to say what he’s learned on the short course has fed into his own work as a designer, especially during the current pandemic. He says the overall experience of peer-to-peer learning has whetted his appetite to continue to learn more from people from across the world.
“The course really benefitted me in a lot of ways. One of the assignments that we had to show part of my work and the reality of my country. I applied some of these concepts into my own business and spoke about them. I became intrigued by localism, which I think is super important right now because of the pandemic.”
“This being my first experience to learn with different students with different backgrounds was really fulfilling and amazing to say at least. It’s made me crave for more experiences like these, where I can have an interchange of opinions and learn from different perspectives.”
Greta says being able to really focus on a specific topic that was covered during her masters degree was extremely satisfying. She plans to use her new skills and awareness to promote greater use of sustainable practices across the board.
"On the course I became a lot more conscious about brands and how I can help to improve the fashion world. I am planning to get more involved with Fashion Revolution in order to help with new projects. Also, I want to provide advice to fashion brands about how to become sustainable and the benefits that come with doing that. Finally, I am planning start a blog about sustainably in fashion!”
Similarly, Gema has been keeping busy using what’s she’s learned on the course and letting it feed into the content she writes for a whole host of outlets.
“I am in constant training, and I sometimes write for outlets such as Metal Magazine or Kluid Magazine generating content related to sustainable fashion. I also collaborate with the Barcelona Sustainable Fashion Association writing content for their social media and newsletter. I've recently launched Dear Apparel Club, a platform whose purpose is to inform about the sustainable fashion industry from a collective perspective, both from consumers and from professionals.”
When I asked them what they would say to any students considering doing a short course, they all agreed that they wouldn’t hesitate to talk about how worthwhile doing a short course was for each of them.
Genaro succinctly advises students to simply “do it!” While Gema says she’d happily recommend others to do a short course as she found the entire experience easy to follow and extremely worthwhile.
Speaking specifically about the course itself, Greta says it was an “amazing experience” for both the content she learned and the ability to meet new people from around the world. “You will acquire a lot of awareness about social problems caused by fast fashion and the necessary tools for helping these brands become sustainable.”
Adding finally: “Thank you for making this incredible experience possible!”
Thinking about how you can put sustainability at the front of your budding fashion venture? Our article How to start a sustainable fashion business breaks down all you need to know to get started on your ethical and eco-friendly fashion empire.
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