EP: 35: Mary Alice Duff on Creating a Path that Fits Your Passions, Part 2

Mary Alice Duff

Mary Alice Duff

Here’s the second 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 and takeaways from part 2 of my interview with Mary Alice were:

  • There is tremendous exploitation in the clothing industry, including human trafficking and slave labor.

  • Check out Fashion Revolution and Clean Clothes Campaign if you want to have a part in improving conditions in the global garment industry.

  • All of the industry experts that Mary Alice spoke with told her that it was impossible to make a viable ethical clothing company in the U.S.

  • “If we’re not buying crap, they’re not gonna make crap.”

  • Some fashion companies are creating so many excess cheap clothes that they never sell that they have to literally burn the excess garments.

  • Crowdfunding can be a great way to market a new business. It’s more than just raising money.

  • Social media isn’t all about gaining followers… it’s about engaging with your customers.

Connect with Mary Alice Duff:

Here’s to Getting Unstuck,

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Intro Music: We are One by Vexento
We Are One by Vexento
Music promoted by Audio Library https://youtu.be/Ssvu2yncgWU

Outro music: Nostalgia by Tobu