I came across Sara Weinreb and her shop IMBY on Instagram. And as a made in America ethical brand, I was immediately taken by the concept of an online shop that featured ethically made essentials from various US fashion brands and emerging designers. She has curated timeless pieces that all work together, into one shop.
I love that Sara’s focus is to being intentional with our purchases. To buy better, to buy ethically, to buy less. There is this constant struggle as an ethical fashion designer or retailer that you are intentional about responsible sourcing and production and not promoting waste and excessiveness. But at the same time, you need people to actually purchase your goods. (Read her article, Promoting Mindful Consumption: Is it at odds with being a Retailer?) But best of all, you can be intentional and buy US-made fashion essentials at a good price point. Shop IMBY.
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SHOP THIS LOOK: Perfect Jeans, Top – Coming soon!
Tell us about your journey to launch IMBY and the story behind the name.
I came up with the idea for IMBY as a frustrated consumer. I decided only to buy things that were responsibly made, but I struggled to find things in my price point and aesthetic. It required so much work! I knew if it was hard for me to find things I loved and shop responsibly, my friends who didn’t want to make this a priority were not going to seek out ethical options. So I aimed to created something that was super simple, easy to navigate, highly curated, and within a reasonable price range. I knew that along with my message of conscious consumerism, I wanted to promote versatility and simplicity in your closet, further supporting the mission of buying fewer, but better items.
IMBY stands for “in my backyard,” because everything we sell is made in America. The name is a play on the NIMBY (not in my backyard) movement, as well as a testament to our commitment in supporting local businesses.
What have been the biggest hurdles and joys?
Oh my, where do I begin? As for joys, my favorite part of running IMBY is interacting with my customers and community. Hearing and seeing how the items are bringing them joy and serving a need, hearing how the simplicity of the site is encouraging them to shop responsibly, and notes about how our content and mission is helping individuals learn more about the world of ethical fashion makes everything worth it. I also love curating the collection and seeing how it comes together and meeting customers in person at pop-up shops.
I am also SO proud and thrilled to have just launched our backyard tee which gives 100% of net proceeds to the International Rescue Committee to support their refugee resettlement programs. I used to work at the IRC, and the mission is so important to me. To be able to use my business as a platform for that message, the message of unity and compassion towards others, means everything to me.
Hurdles? I’ve got a few (hundred) of those too! It’s challenging to be a small, bootstrapping business. I have hundreds of ideas and limited time and resources to make them happen. I am a one woman team! It’s also challenging to be a minimalism-based retailer, promoting conscious consumerism but needing people to buy in order to stay in business.
What did you want to be when you grew up? Any connection to what you’re doing now?
Oh, I wanted to be many things, including: an actress, a forensic psychologist, a photo journalist, a news anchor, someone who made a difference (but I wasn’t sure what that looked like…), and a fashion designer. I suppose the latter is relevant! But I moved on from my interests in working in fashion after a summer internship at a magazine working in their fashion closet. I didn’t connect to the work on a deeper level, and I didn’t feel like I was making a difference. I realized it wasn’t the right field for me. It’s been really fun and exciting, seven years into my career, to be able to make my way back to the industry in a way that I feel makes a positive impact.
Tell us about your own personal capsule wardrobe. What are some of your favorite styling tips?
My capsule is ever evolving! I love to add those pieces I want to wear every day– comfy t-shirts, my favorite jeans, a couple jumpsuits, and more, and then add some more styled elements like blazers, vests, fancier tops. There are certain items like my jeans, Sotela shift dress, cool cut loose leggings, convertible pantsuit and more that I keep in every capsule too. For me, styling is all about being comfortable but feeling confident, and adding great accessories. I love hats, statement jewelry, awesome shoes, scarves, and I even just got a bandana. Those elements can transform the same outfit into something totally different.
Can you give us a glimpse at what is coming next for IMBY?
Yes! We’re expanding our product selection to be a bit more varied in terms of having some dressier (but always versatile!) tops, adding a (tiny) bit of color, and experimenting with some higher-end items– always within our under $200 price point.
Outside of the collection itself, we’re ramping up on content. Because we promote conscious consumerism and intentionalism (my new term for minimalism!), we want to give our community the resources to live in a way that’s meaningful and relevant to them, and provide valuable content to boot. I am also starting to think about some in person events on the topics, and some fun collaborations. Lots of ideas in store.
Any advice for women looking to boldly start that thing they’ve been dreaming about?
Just do it. I know that sounds like I am oversimplifying, but really, I’m not. Do one step today to help you move towards what you are dreaming about. Maybe you want to be a full time freelance graphic designer– find one client. Maybe even build a portfolio by offering to do something for free or at a discounted rate. But take one step, and keep taking steps. Talk to people, tell them your idea, and get feedback. Before starting IMBY I worked for an organization that supported individuals in launching social impact-driven businesses. Their biggest obstacle? Perfection. Not taking the first step. Put something out in the world, and I promise you will be even more motivated to make it succeed.
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