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Sustainable style: the new normal for the fashion industry

Ally ’22 and Regina Rosi Mitchell smile for a photo.

How can I add value to an already existing business? What tools can I use to solve existing and complex problems within a business? These are the questions that capstone student Ally ‘22 explores in the business experience capstone program and specifically, in her internship with The New Norm. Run by Director of Entrepreneurship and Innovation Regina Rosi Mitchell, this program aims to provide students with hands-on experience working with a small business and solving a real world start-up problem. 

“I haven’t had any business start up experience so it’s teaching me how to work with people to make this product a success, as well as the little things that go into making your business successful. I think the only way to really learn about it is to have that in person experience.” Ally said.

Rudnick is working with the start-up company The New Norm, which manufactures recycled fiber blends from red solo cups to be sold to clothing manufacturers. Run by alumnae Lauren ‘16, The New Norm, aims to take a deeper look into the supply chain of the highly wasteful fashion industry. While at Johns Hopkins University, Lauren noticed the abundance of red solo cups that have become an ubiquitous part of the college experience and how cups create a great amount of un-recyclable plastic waste. While taking business and entrepreneurship classes as a materials science engineer, Chae created a machine to turn this plastic waste into textiles to be sold directly to clothing companies.

“I think sustainable clothing is really important right now, people are prioritizing that aspect in their clothing. I believe that we’ll start to see more sustainable brands pop up and Lauren’s fabric is a great stepping stone for that,” Ally said. 

Although classroom learning is valuable and gives students the knowledge to be successful within their internships, this experience lets students such as Ally take control of their learning, work in industries they’re interested in, and truly make a difference within the company they work for. 

“This program is designed to break down barriers to entry into internships and give students the opportunity to get tangible practical work experience under their belts,” Mitchell said. 

According to Mitchell, fast fashion and over consumption are extremely prevalent issues in our world today. Having an entrepreneurial mindset can create the solutions to these complex issues and the innovations that change the future of industries. 

“Business and entrepreneurship can certainly cause environmental destruction but it can also be a huge lever for promoting environmental sustainability and greater equity,” Mitchell said.

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