Nowadays everything is eco-something. There are hybrid cars, organic veggies, solar powered homes and many more to list. However, as consumers it is hard to get involved in a complete lifestyle of eco-friendly-isim. What if you rent, or cannot buy a hybrid car or don’t have a Whole Foods close to your neighborhood?

A simple solution may be to change the way you dress. With many designers creating eco-friendly lines it is a little bit easier to shop consciously and help the planet. One of such designers is Damali Ayo, who opened her online clothing store on May 5 ready to create a difference without draining your pockets.

"I love to make people feel sexy without being uncomfortable. I love making clothes and designs that people want to touch, in that way CROW tries to bring people together. I also love function. Clothes have to work well as well as look good, all of this goes into CROW," said Ayo, owner of CROW eco-friendly clothing.

CROW is one of the latest stores that opened on-line. In comparison with other sites though, Ayo’s products are made of 100 percent sustainable materials like soy, organic cotton, bamboo, hemp and lyocell. Her signature design, a crow, is featured in various shirts over the color “clay”; as said on the site it is a grey that “reminds us that whenever two opposite colors are mixed, the result is grey. We use this new grey clay to shape our world to be exactly what we want it to be.”

Although her business plan seems peachy, Ayo still has to run a business after all. Since other designers and labels compete with the new eco-friendly products CROW staffers aim to maintain a "we-can-do-it" attitude. Although they respect other fashion businesses views, the team wishes designers stayed away from conventional cotton use for example, which employs near-slave labor as Ayo said.

If more designers used sustainable fabrics there could be, as the owner explains, "a difference in environmental issues, in community issues, and create more options in fabrics that are accessible and affordable to all of us."

Currently Ayo buys sustainable fabrics that cost more than simple-cotton based ones, something that she says is frustrating. A general change in using sustainable materials would help the environment, those who work in producing it and customers that want long-lasting and fashionable products.

"The kind of company I run is the kind that truly believes ‘everything is possible’ as our shirts say. I knew that selling sustainable garments wasn’t enough- I wanted to combine all the new ideas in fashion with my ideas about business and create a dream model of ‘how to be.’ CROW strives to be that," Ayo said.

Because of this desire to do good and stand out, CROW engages in a distinctive way of recycling, reusing or composting fabric scraps, patterns and thread. Its "scrapology" line also reinvents leftovers into one-of-a-kind pieces and the company insists on using cold-water washable materials that are still soft and shapely after line drying. All production and assembly work is done by local sewers, both to offset CO2 emissions and to stimulate local economies; if you want to join the recycling circle CROW’s cradle-to-cradle system takes back all clothing that can be composted or sent back to the company to be reused through their donation system.

Another concept that makes this line different from others is that shoppers can actually name their own price for the items, much like bidding on airplane tickets. Some prices range from $75 to $15 and, as the owner claims, people pay the higher prices for the items.

"We offer a sliding scale pricing and excellent product- that resulted in people feeling welcomed and often paying the upper end of the range because what we offer is of such high quality. Customers are engaged in the process of capitalism, we invest in them and they invest in us," Ayo explained.

With a background in art, having degrees and jobs in the fine arts, Ayo has been prepared to launch CROW and face the highly critical fashion world. At the moment she is the main designer, but through her connections in the art field she is in the search of new talent. Looking to create unique graphics that can give her business even more distinction. Because she wants to give back and help other up-an-coming artists she has also decided to donate a percentage of her sales to Art Now grants which go to artists striving for social change.

As the clothing website says, this line is "perfect for fashionistas with a conscience, and green gods and goddesses, as well as those just wondering how they can look hot while still helping to slow global warming,.. Style and sustainability can coexist."

As thing develop Ayo wants to look for retail space, where not only clothing will be available. CROW was created to start a community where people actually care about you. "We want to see you healthy, eating well, learning cool stuff and expanding who you are as a person. It’s no longer an us- them model of commerce it’s a ‘we’ model." And when the first store is opened? "I’ll be teaching yoga to our staff," Ayo added happily.

Currently there are shirts, dresses, male dress shirts and eclectic accessories that are sure to embellish any outfit. Many ideas are still in the works and new designs being prepared for future seasons, possibly with more male items to offer as well. "So many designers are afraid of menswear, which is crazy to me. Men are delicious! I love to dress them," said the designer.

About The Author

Bessie King is a Blast contributing editor. She can be reached at [email protected]

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