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I help women who value clean beauty, health, and wellness learn how to live a clean lifestyle so they can provide a healthier, low-tox environment for their families

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the sustainable athlete

*{I was gifted a Vander Jacket, but all opinions are my own. I do not receive any financial gain from this post or resulting sales. I believe in this brand and want to share the mic with a fellow Queen.} Edit: Sarah is offering a promo code. See the end of the post.

 

You’ve heard the saying progress, not perfection. While this saying has become quite the colloquialism for the overwhelmed modern mom who is more than likely trying to permit herself to breathe, I would like to argue that “progress, not perfection” is real, especially in wellness, clean, and sustainable living.  

There is freedom in progress and that progress can start a movement. 

 

With that in mind, I want to introduce you to someone who inspires me. Her name is Sarah Vander Neut, and she is this everyday beast of a human walking the walk of a conscientious entrepreneur.  

Sarah Vander Neut in her shop in Aurora, Colorado.

Sarah is a long time runner and out of necessity {to use her creativity and fill a gap in the market}, she created an eco-friendly running jacket company that seeks to do a few ambitious things. 

-Employ women of varying ages. 

-Bring representation to both the running world {a historically homogeneous club} and the sustainability movement through her branding. 

-Use beautiful materials to create something that will last. 

You get why I say she is a beast, right?

I got the chance to interview Sarah, and I think you will see just how much love and beauty go into Vander Jacket: 

 

 

g+w: Let’s get into it. You know that I am way into reading labels. Tell me that analogy you have about clothing and nutrition labels. 

sarah: Imagine if every garment we bought was required to have a Nutrition Facts label, just like food. Maybe “Maker Facts” would be a better title. 

Instead of sugars, fats, protein, and vitamins, the tag could outline fabric source, location of construction, travel distance to the place of purchase, the wage–and age!–of the garment workers who made it, and a number rating of the pollution burden of the garment

Does this seem radical? 

Would it be eye-popping to see the facts in blunt print? Maybe. Probably. I bet that nutrition labels felt the same way when consumers’ attention was brought to those details in full view. 

 

g+w: Oh my gosh, interesting! How would Vander Jacket report these facts? 

sarah: Well, we source our fabric for our original jackets in Denver. The owner’s {my} mother hunts for remnants each week at local thrift stores, and since our fabric source expert is in her sixties, she gets a senior discount on the fabric at most places. Bonus!

We also purchase remnants of fabric from local gear companies who bring in more textile than they can use. We find the fabric for our Denver Micro Line in downtown LA. We source end of the run bolts of fabric from independently owned fabric businesses in the iconic fashion district. 

We make all of our jackets in Denver and Aurora. USA made clothing is growing, but still rare, especially for athletic clothes. Even if a garment is made in the USA, chances are good it is made in North Carolina, New Jersey, or California–somewhere on the coasts.

That makes Denver made clothing even more unique and local to many of our fans.

 

g+w: Let’s talk about the age of workers. We all know this is one of the many problems with overseas manufacturing, but I think we turn a blind eye to it. How would this appear on your “Maker Facts”?

sarah: What is the age and wage of Vander Jacket workers? Ok, now you are getting personal! I am 37, and I started Vander Jacket nine years ago when I was pregnant with my first child and needed some jackets in pregnancy-body size to keep running through the winter. 

I partner with a local seamstress, a mother to teenagers, originally from Peru, but who just received her citizenship this year! We have never asked her age…never ask a lady her age… 

Vander Jacket also partners with a local clothing manufacturer, who employs skilled garment construction personnel who are old enough to work in the USA. These workers are treated like family, paid more than minimum wage, and guarded with vigilance! 

The truth is that there are not enough seamstresses in Colorado to go around. Hence, wages are competitive. We don’t want to lose our team!

 

g+w: Last question. What sets your soul on fire?

sarah: Imagination fascinates me as a core element of humanity. We are drawn to beauty. I don’t mean physical beauty or a woman’s appearance. I really mean the kind of beauty you notice when mathematical equations add up, when water drops off a leaf, or when your coworker has a gorgeous laugh. 

There is a kind of beauty that doesn’t satisfy us to experience alone; we absolutely have to grab the first person we see and say, “Look!” 

Beauty inspires the community in that way. There is beauty in nature, but the kind that really gets me emotional is the human-made beauty that only comes from our unique imaginations. 

More of that, please!!

 

I could talk to Sarah forever. I think we are going to need to do part 2.

Vander Jacket made it on to the Green + Well Gift Guide, and now you can see why. Head to Vander Jacket as soon as possible. Whether for yourself or for someone you love, these jackets are made with love and soul, and I know that you will feel it. This holiday, I vote for less stuff and more beauty.

 

*Use code: greenandwell to receive 15% off your order until 12/31/2020 

Click here.

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