When AmyAnn Cadwell saw the harmful effects of fast fashion, she began thinking critically about how we can each do our part for the kind of world we want. So, she started The Good Trade in 2014, an online magazine that features ethical brands. I sat down with AmyAnn to ask about her life experiences, inspiration, and advice for women wanting to do good.
How has being a woman shaped your life experiences and inspiration to begin The Good Trade?
The Good Trade was built on the fundamental idea that consumers are powerful and the dollars we spend each day are a vote for the world we want to live in. Women control the large majority of spending power in US households, and they are now asking questions, raising their voice, and matching their spending with their ethics.
Many of the companies featured on The Good Trade exist to empower women by extending them the incredible opportunity of entrepreneurship. My undergraduate degree is in development economics, where I learned that if you empower women, you transform an entire community. Give a woman just a seed of opportunity and watch what will bloom from her stewardship. These are the stories I most love to tell.
How has your passion for ethical fashion fueled your work and key relationships?
Documentaries like The True Cost have helped us understand how fast fashion is depleting the earth’s resources and leveraging slave labor to pass a “cheap” cost to the end consumer. Over $150 billion dollars of profit are generated from forced laborers who produce the products we eat, use, and wear everyday. American consumers alone generate nearly 254 million tons of waste per year, much of it from the fashion industry. The driving force in my work with The Good Trade is to start a meaningful conversation.
I want to be a gathering place for a quickly growing collective of conscious consumers who aren’t afraid to use their voice and their wallet to question and change the way things are.
What were life lessons you received from other women about starting a business?
I have three cousins, all sisters. They all recently started having children, and I watched them leave their workplaces to focus on their growing families. But then I watched as my cousins began their own ventures alongside their families. These women teach fitness classes and run successful companies, and they’re raising 12 beautiful children among them. As women, we’ve become increasingly good at making our lives work for us.
When it comes to being my own boss, I no longer have managers leveraging my husband’s career growth as an excuse not to pay me a fair wage, and I’m not passed over for a promotion because someone is worried I’m one step away from maternity leave. There’s no glass ceiling here for me. Or for the women I’ll bring on my team.
There’s a new wave of feminism and it’s inclusive, collaborative, and emerging quickly in the social impact sector, and I’m thrilled to be a part of it.
What has been your biggest challenge since starting The Good Trade?
Time. At a Super Bowl party recently, a friend passed around a photo that read, “You have the same hours in a day as Beyonce.” Ouch. But really, we all have the same time constraints. When it comes to being an entrepreneur and working in the social impact sector, there’s a constant pressure to do more. Daily I remind myself that in order to grow my business, to make an impact for others, I must prioritize my own health, relationships and spirituality. Easier said than done - but I’m looking to other women who manage their priorities and live with grace and dignity.
What do you wish someone had told you earlier when you first began?
Honestly, I wished I had just believed it when my husband told me I could do this, and that it was 100% okay if I failed. We all have at least one voice telling us we can do it. But it has been my experience that women often have a particular difficulty moving forward before having all our ducks in row. I needed my husband to push me to make the leap to start The Good Trade , and still need his encouragement to move forward everyday.
What are some resources women can turn to when looking to build an online site?
There are so many great resources out there for building an online publication. Two of my favorites are Dean Street Society and The Nectar Collective , both run by women making seven-figure revenues annually from their blogs. When I feel like I’ve arrived at some great traffic or revenue numbers, I look at theirs and it inspires me to keep building - to keep moving onward and upward.
Photos by: Andrea David