EP 34: Mary Alice Duff on Creating a Path that Fits Your Passions

 Mary Alice Duff

Mary Alice Duff

I’m thrilled to share the first part of a two-part interview with Mary Alice Duff! Mary Alice is the owner of Alice Alexander, a size-inclusive, ethically-made women’s apparel startup based in Philadelphia with both an online and brick and mortar presence. Started in September 2017, Alice Alexander offers bold, yet accessible pieces to the modern-day woman in sustainable fabrics and inclusive sizes, ranging from 0-28.

Prior to launching her own business, Mary Alice was a nonprofit executive with dual degrees in social work and law and social policy. Frustrated with the lack of high quality clothing in her size and growing increasingly aware of the negative environmental and human impacts the fashion industry was creating, Mary Alice started sewing her own clothes, consciously building a self-made wardrobe piece by piece.

Realizing there was a business in her new sewing hobby, Duff enrolled in fashion design school at Philadelphia’s MADE Institute, where she balanced taking classes and working full-time. In May of 2017, Duff left a successful career in the nonprofit sector to launch Alice Alexander.

In June 2018, with the crowdfunded launch of their second collection, Alice Alexander opened a brick and mortar location and combined production studio in the East Falls neighborhood of Philadelphia.

My favorite moments from my interview with Mary Alice and my biggest takeaways were:

  • Mary Alice was a wildly successful and educated professional with 2 master’s degrees but that didn’t stop her from pursuing what got her up every morning, even when “what got her up every AM” shifted

  • Mary Alice’s transition from social work to fashion seemed like a huge leap but she carried through the core threads of what was important to her and what she was good at to make it happen

  • If you’re paying for a shirt what you’re paying for a burrito, your clothes are probably unethically made

  • Having a partner who whole-heartedly supports your dreams was a key component for Mary Alice to be able to make the leap she did

  • Sometimes, having BIG CRAZY dreams that you aim to achieve, in the face of people questioning or laughing at them, is the biggest driver to achieving them (and showing everyone that they were wrong)

Connect with Mary Alice Duff:

Here’s to Getting Unstuck,
Cynthia

This week our show is brought to you by Brie Valencia Designs. Brie specializes in helping small businesses articulate, document and translate the personality and values of their brands into meaningful creative solutions that drive results.

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Intro Music: We are One by Vexento
We Are One by Vexento
https://www.youtube.com/user/Vexento
https://soundcloud.com/vexento
Music promoted by Audio Library https://youtu.be/Ssvu2yncgWU

Outro music: Nostalgia by Tobu 
tobumusic.com/license
https://soundcloud.com/7obu/nostalgia