#KibouStyles: Responsible Fashion with @Ave_lumi’s Jenny Jackson
Ave Lumi is a sustainable fashion & lifestyle destination for women & children. We have a retail store as well as online, e-commerce. All of our products are vetted for their sustainable and ethical origins. Each brand and product has a different story. I do the work to bring together a relevant collection that meets social and/or environmental sustainability criteria.
Your motto is Buy Better, Not More, and we couldn’t agree more with you. Tell us how you arrived here.
Do we really need more stuff? After years of hopping from place to place, home to home, I realized that hauling stuff around…whether it be for sentimental reasons, or just buying more stuff so I could have enough laundry to spread out washing days…. (hello, New York apartment life) our lives become heavier and more complicated. If we choose wisely with how we purchase for ourselves and our families, I believe we live happier lives. We don’t need to buy a bunch of stuff to make us happy, it wont. Material items just don’t bring ultimate happiness. However, I can verify that one beautiful dress that I can wear for many occasions, that will last a long time…and make me feel uplifted everytime I put it on, now that’s how I buy better. I don’t think you need a closet full of basics to have longevity, rainbows can be basics in my opinion. Ultimately, I aim to assort a collection that allows shoppers to buy items that really light them up and that have longevity in durability and seasonality.
I read that you opened Ave Lumi to contribute to a healthier, more responsible, and more collaborative fashion industry. Can you give us some tips on how we can do that as consumers?
I really felt that more needed to be done on the industry side to allow for customers to access products that are made ethically & sustainably. Working in the corporate fashion industry, I saw how destructive this industry was on every level and everything was only profit driven. Consumers don’t have to see this so blatantly, but individuals should know that every dollar spent really counts, every dollar is a vote for your values. So here are a few actionable steps we can take:
- Shop your values! Whatever that might be, buy from a small business, or a woman owned business…or buy the more sustainable material yoga pant…or whatever you need to purchase, see if there is a version that speaks to your values…that better purchase is a vote towards better industry in general.
- Use your voice. Leave reviews for companies or products that you love. Or vice versa, reach out to a company to let them know if you have a bad experience. Your voice as a consumer really matters.
- If you are trying to “buy better” do a quick search on a company’s website. You’ll know from the product descriptions first, then the “about” page whether or not they have a commitment to social and/or environmental responsibility.
What are the core pieces of your (healthier, more responsible) wardrobe?
Hmm… My sustainable denim…less water and waste were created so that I could have these dope jeans. My low impact indigo dyed denim jacket…it goes with every outfit and it’s super soft. My organic cotton Kenzie tanks because they are cute, versatile, and have a built in bra…less is more bebe. A variety of crop tops, because I can’t stop…. Some comfy wide leg gauchos in organic cotton cause they look great but help facilitate my busy mom life.
Jewelry….to elevate… I love my ethically produced pieces from the Ave Lumi collection, but also my Christina Caruso pieces… made in NYC from recycled gold. They elevate every look. Make me feel alive.
My sustainable sunnies handcrafted from vegetable cellulose… I wear rose lenses on cloudy days, and dark lenses on the sunny days…
My made in NYC bag from Dooz… so chic, and can go from day to night without a thought.
I love to support women owned, small design driven businesses like Kibou - I know I can trust that these companies keep things human and remain conscious of resources.
What are some trends you see coming our way this summer and fall? Any favorites to let us in on?
Nothing better than flowy dress summers… I’m loving the florals, smocking, bright hues and botanical dyes. For fall, the power shoulder is still strong… maybe because it frames our faces so well on Zoom or video in general?! Also, the pleat front pants… or oversized pant silhouette in general. Crop with a pleat pant…it makes a strong statement, and I’m here for it.
Not sure about everyone else, but opening up a retail boutique that sells clothing and accessories is pretty much my daydream. Any advice to dreamers like me? How did you wind up here?
I did this out of necessity. In order to grow my sustainable fashion work, it was the most obvious move for me. I am able to have a full visual representation of products, wardrobe, gifts, and concepts. I get to interact with customers directly, and maximize my reach. It is my hope that I will be able to educate consumers that their purchases really make an impact.
Advice? If you have the calling, now is a good time to go for it because rents are lower and more negotiable. However, it takes a lot of heavy lifting, so just be ready to spend more time, more money and energy than you budget for… make up a budget, and double…even triple it.
If you have a DTC brand (like Kibou) creating a retail concept around your distinctive product could be a great way to give your product even more life!
Your Bachelors degree is in Textiles & Apparel and you focused your MBA on Management & Sustainability. What part does that play in your business approach?
What don’t I use from these? My undergrad & grad studies both come along with me every day of my work. I studied merchandising & design at UT Austin…both the culture of Austin and my studies at UT are interwoven to me and the culture of my brand.
My MBA was such a joy. For 2 years I immersed myself in sustainable business ideals, and I loved every minute. I learned a lot about what works in building a business and brand… practical ways to implement sustainability into relevant and viable business concepts. Ave Lumi has been the sequel to business school.
You’re located in Tenafly, New Jersey. What is the scene like there? Are there other like-minded shops and business owners?
Tenafly is very much an NYC commuter village, we’re the first exit over the GW Bridge into New Jersey. The downtown area is adorable and walkable. Good restaurants and small businesses. Awesome yoga spots. I am definitely the only business of my kind here…and in the area, but because I am a mom of two young kids, I wanted to be available for my children in these formative years, which is why I opened in my own town. Plus, investing in my home community makes sense to me. I’m getting to know the entrepreneurs here, and there is no end to the number of incredible people contributing to greatness.
How do you choose what to stock? Any unexpected best sellers?
I take many things into account… I have growing segments and have to build them all out: women’s, childrens, apothecary, gifts…
I choose products that have a sustainability story, but they also have to stand on their own. For womens, style forward and wardrobe building is important. For children, longevity and joy is important… even with boy clothes. Boys like fun, too! Clean beauty and gifts… I buy from a variety of sources, and am always keeping my eyes open for new and exciting additions to the collection.
Unexpected best sellers have been our Made-in-the-USA denim collection. The price point is very accessible, the style is on trend… and an easy yes for a women’s wardrobe boost.
Finally, tell us what you’re wearing!
The Pacific Skirt - a crisp lavender poplin skirt made ethically in the EU. I love this skirt for it’s versatility… easy to dress up or down - easy to “mom around” in.
Paired with the Peace, Love, Joy organic cotton tee… I love to infuse a little mindset uplift by placing uplifting messages around me, so occasionally, I’ll wear something on a tee…it’s not an everyday thing for me, but when it works, it really works.
Kibou bag in blush… of course! Best choice for a trip to Central Park….adventuring around town, or anywhere really.
My vegetable cellulose Crowberry Twist sunnies… hand crafted in Greece… because the rose colored outlook keeps me balanced.
Photos courtesy of @ave_lumi and @nadialeonphotography