Having grown up as the heiress to magazine publishing corporation Hearst, Amanda Hearst is no stranger to the world of fashion. And after a lifetime adjacent to the fashion industry, in 2015, she combined her knowledge of the industry with her passion for the environment, and co-founded sustainable shopping website Maison de Mode.
Hearst tells Green Matters that she created Maison de Mode to fight the stigma that sustainable and ethical fashion couldn’t also be luxurious. Now, six years later, the activist, businesswoman, and heiress to the publishing corporation Hearst is pleased that sustainable fashion is becoming more mainstream — and she’s using her platform to make it more accessible, too.
Not to mention, Hearst is a longtime animal lover and environmentalist, and she has founded and worked with multiple charities to prove it. Most recently, in 2018, Hearst founded WELL/BEINGS, a nonprofit that educates the public on the connection between the climate crisis, animal welfare, and environmental justice. The organization is currently working on a campaign to restore mangrove forests along hard-hit coastal areas of Puerto Rico and the British Virgin Islands.
To learn more about Maison de Mode, WELL/BEINGS, and Amanda Hearst’s personal sustainable living journey, Green Matters recently caught up with her via email as part of our Green Routine series.
GREEN MATTERS: When did you become an environmentalist?
AMANDA HEARST: I don't think there was one defining moment where I said, "Yes, I'm going to be an environmentalist now!" But, even as a little girl, I always loved spending time alone in nature. And my mother raised us with many, many rescue animals. So, I'm guessing that my love of animals and the environment was always there, and then when I became an "adult," I started to organically incorporate those interests into my professional life.
GM: Why do you care about protecting the planet and animals?
AH: Protecting the environment means protecting wildlife means protecting people. It's all interconnected. So, with WELL/BEINGS and Maison de Mode, I always try to highlight how everyone and everything is interrelated. For example, the cattle industry accounts for about 80 percent of Amazonian deforestation. And the demand for cattle is propelled by our consumption of red meat and purchasing of leather. And if we lose the Amazons, we lose one of the biggest carbon sinks in the world.
So if we eat less red meat and buy less leather, that really does have an impact on the environment and the people and animals that depend on it. Everything is interconnected, and we as individuals can make a difference.
GM: What is the biggest change you have personally made to live more sustainably?
AH: I cut out red meat and most dairy. I don't shop that often, and when I do, it's usually from sustainable brands that I know and love. So, I wouldn't say that there has been one major change, just a lot of smaller lifestyle changes that add up.
GM: What is the biggest misconception about living sustainably that you have discovered?
AH: That it's all or nothing. It's impossible to live 100 percent sustainably and have no impact on the environment. So really "living sustainably" is about making small changes in your day-to-day life. Maybe eating less red meat, recycling more, and stop shopping fast fashion. All the small changes end up making a very big difference.
GM: What's one thing you're really loving about the sustainable fashion movement right now?
AH: That the movement is finally happening! I started writing about ethical fashion in 2010, and there was not much momentum at the time. But now literally every brand is incorporating sustainability practices into their companies. It's very inspiring!
GM: What inspired you to co-found Maison de Mode? What at the company are you most proud of?
AH: My partner Hassan Pierre and I started Maison de Mode with the goal of proving to consumers that "ethical fashion" was luxurious and beautiful. We wanted to undermine the stigmas that existed at the time — that sustainable fashion wasn't chic, flattering, or beautiful. Today, we still have that same mission, but since consumer interest in sustainability has increased exponentially, our mission has now grown to make sure that ethical fashion is also accessible.
"Green Routine" is a series from Green Matters that invites notable people in the environmental space to share the efforts they make to live more sustainably.