An interview with Raina Blyer, eco-fashion designer for BEND the system

When eco-fashion wasn’t yet  born and before the green revolution took off, designer and local New Yorker Raina Blyer created a platform where she could address environmental and social issues through fashion.

After a rigorous career in the fashion industry, she felt she needed to take a stand on what was going on in the world around her. She wanted to be an example of a business run with love, creativity, responsibility and integrity that would  inspire others to do the same.

That’s how Ryann started in 2005; a fashion brand that is aware of the impact of modern society and BEND’s the system by its sustainable fabrics, fair trade labour and high quality. With her latest collection Creem, Raina again shows she has not only an absolute creative style, she also spreads an enormous inspiration for other fashionista’s out there to make a difference with their passion.

B: It must have been and probably still is a great challenge for you, especially with the economic crises knocking on your front door. So what are the biggest barriers you have been confronted with on a daily business?

R: The economy has played a big part, people want more for less, but fabric and production costs have been going up, so I am caught in a tough place of trying to balance out all my costs and still deliver great quality product to people at the prices they expect. People love to hear something is made locally and from sustainable fibres, but are reluctant to pay extra to make that possible.

B: Have you seen any changes from when you started until now that has made it easier?

R: There is a much bigger sustainable community of stores and designers. People are familiar with the terms organic and fair trade, which wasn’t so a few years ago. There are more fabric choices, more mills running organic cotton as an option, it still has a very long way to go.

B: How could society make it easier for eco-fashion entrepreneurs in your opinion?

R: I think being an entrepreneur and a small business owner of any kind is a real challenge. Society can make it easier by rejecting products made cheap and irresponsibly and buy products from companies that are directly giving back to their communities

B: How are consumers reacting on your brand? Is it more difficult to sell eco-fashion?

R: If people like something, they will buy it, eco or not. I try to sell my line on the style and feel if the fabric, the eco aspect is just a wonderful perk.

B: You are a great example within our community who’s actually taking action to change the world. What’s the fuel that keeps you going?

R: The fuel that keeps me going is my community of Sustainable Designers that has formed through being one of the organizers of the NOW Showcase. It’s tough to run a business yourself, we all share information, vendors, contractors, and help each other out. It’s nice to be surrounded by people that have the same agenda as yourself.

B: What would you say to all the million designers out there that are just starting?

R: 1.Learn everything you possibly can before you get started, intern with companies that are similar to what you want to do, you can never know too much, or have too much experience. 2. Only go into fashion if you absolutely and truly love it. It is a surprisingly tough and demanding field.

Raina Blyer, BENDer of the system.

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