Cathy Leibman & Christina Decker

 

WOMEN TO WATCH

 

Cathy Leibman & Christina Decker

Founders, Ethical Muse

 

In 2011, Dubai-based expats Cathy Leibman, left, and Christina Decker founded Ethical Muse, a collection of sustainable accessories handcrafted by artisans from around the world. We talked to them about the ethical component in their brand and what it means to be a conscious consumer.

 

Ethical Muse stemmed from…

A conversation we had regarding Cathy’s existing philanthropic work in Ethiopia and Uganda and how we could marry that with our mutual interests in fashion, design and travel. We wanted to provide a platform that would focus on creating accessories of high-quality design, using sustainable and upcycled materials, while at the same time supporting skill provision. We also give back a portion of our sales in a way that improves humanitarian efforts — basic things we take for granted such as sanitation, clean water, education and nutritious meals.

 

Our goal is…

To change perceptions of sustainable fashion while building awareness and helping to impact the lives of others.

 

In addition to global artisans, we also support…

The children at Masooli School in Uganda by donating 20 meals from every Ethical Muse product sold. Last year we were also able to fund our first scholarship for a Masooli School student to attend tailoring school.

 

 

 

Being a conscious consumer means…

The consumer is taking steps to educate themselves about the products they purchase — what materials are being used, how they are sourced and how the people who are making the products are treated. Challenge yourself to become socially responsible and know where your money is going. Educate yourself before you spend.

 

Best business advice we've received…

From Dr. Seuss: “Will you succeed? Yes, you will indeed! Ninety-eight and three-quarters percent guaranteed.” We try not to wish away these challenging, early days as a start-up because someday we will look back and see that they were the foundation for our success.

 

Most exciting part of owning your own business...

Being able to create a platform from scratch that marries our passions for fashion, philanthropy and travel. And to every day be doing something we love and see it grow and evolve. Much like having a child!

 

And the most challenging…

Getting the funding needed to see our vision and strategic plan come to life.

 

Our own Ethical Muse is…

Livia Firth. Her commitment to being a “game changer” in the arena of sustainable fashion inspires us. Another muse for us is Lauren Bush Lauren. From following her FEED success story, we realized that focusing our efforts towards evolving a few key vertical lines, rather than many horizontal ones, is a solid strategy.