Here is our Q & A:
1. Tell us more about how you came up with the name for your organization? I also dig your blog. Which one came first the blog or the company?
I have been deeply involved with the organic movement since the first day I walked into a health food store as a teen growing up in New Orleans. I naturally knew any business I would run would have to be related to health and preserving nature. So when my childhood best friend moved to Germany and began bragging about his “oko box” of affordable organic goods delivered from the farmers each week, his excitement really stuck with me. “Oko” is german for organic, and his descriptive stories of what arrived in his “oko box” left me feeling inspired- I knew I wanted to be part of a movement that made organic more accessible and affordable in the US with the ease he was experiencing in Europe.
Being that I have chemical sensitivities and some health probs I quickly became conscious of the connection that not only did our food need to be ecological & organic, but that every purchase we made, every product we used, every consideration must be done with the earth in mind. When I saw that there was plenty of organic baby products out there, but eco minded adults were being left behind by the organic fashion industry I decided to start “The Oko Box”. The catch for me, was it had to be affordable and break certain style barriers. I think I have a little something for everyone now, whether classy, hippy, punk, or suburban there’s a garment to love. The blog was born after the store and fairly recently, but has gained a huge following already which is a lot of fun for me! I really love to interact with customers and readers, your opinions totally matter to me.
2. The Öko Box mission is wonderful and we love that- “The Öko Box donates monthly to the National Wildlife Federation, in support of their Backyard Wildlife Habitat Program,” Please tell us more about your wonderful connection to these organizations and nature.
I began donating to the National Wildlife Federation many years ago, because they really stood out to me as a group who was making a difference in the preservation of our natural resources. My greatest love for them though stems from the Backyard Wildlife Habitat program, which I got completely involved in and had 4 properties certified as a safe haven for native critters to live. This program is awesome because it teaches how to native garden in each of our areas, there are guides to all the plants that you can grow and animals you will attract – this keeps the natural ecosystem of your region in balance. I am totally against buying non food plus non native landscaping from big box stores that spray tons of chemicals on the plants, and then attract non native pests that people end up spraying more pesticides for. Having lived deep in the woods for 6 years (even for some time using only an outhouse & no toilet) I experienced how important the cycles of life were and how each natural detail was dependent on the other. Nature is resilient but also delicate and we have the power to keep it healthy instead of being destructive. There are other cool educational programs out there too like “Food Not Lawns” which encourages us to grow things more useful then grass, which takes tons of resources to maintain. My mission for The Oko Box is my mission in every aspect of my life whether it be gardening, eating or getting dressed in the morning – and that is to balance our modern needs with sustainable solutions.
3. Out of all the lines you carry which are you most excited about?
I get super excited about each designer I carry, having been trained in art school for 7 years I am really enthralled by the whole creative process of designing clothes. My super dee duper good news though is the coming September 1st 2008 I will be carrying my favorite eco lingerie designer of all time, and that is Jenny of Enamore. The new fall/winter line is made of soy, organic cotton, hemp/silk and vintage fabrics – and in such lush vibrant colors, we are all in for a special treat! I own two Hemp Silk lingerie sets by Enamore and they are so gorgeous, well designed, and such timeless pieces I don’t think I will ever get tired of them. Enamore sets out to bring classic and vintage styles to her designs, like the classic pin-up, which is a sustainable approach to the usual throw away fashion world. Too many garments are made only for the moment and are difficult to keep in your wardrobe for a long time. The designers I carry at The Oko Box have to have an exemplary feel for this basic concept. While it doesn’t mean to only wear basics and never something unique, it means each piece should stand the test of time.
4. How do you see the Öko Box evolving? What fashions do you forecast in your shop for 2020 for example?
My vision of the future for The Oko Box and for all consumerism is one that moves forward into a more sustainable society. As we learn about various aspects of farming, fabric production and manufacturing we realize there are many details that need to be worked through, but that is the direction organic fashion design is already headed. I imagine that in 2020 we will be shopping green because it will be a no brainer, that will be what is available, while sweatshop made junk will be phased out by consumer demand. When people connect these ideas, the demand will grow- and if it grows at the rate it is currently I can’t wait to see how rockin’ we are in 2020!
5. Please share some advice with our readers on how to go about a green wardrobe and lifestyle.
My advice to anyone on how to green your lifestyle & wardrobe would be “think out of the box!” Go beyond what we accept as a society, and look into the decisions we make, look at each purchase and ask “where did this come from?” There is an alternative to nearly every sweatshop made purchase we might make, take the time to look for it and share your finds with us when you do!