Meet Jaewoo Ahn, Environmental Activist and the Face Behind Sustainable Brand SAIL
Did you know the fast fashion industry is the second most polluting industry in the world? Though fashion is not commonly regarded as a pollutant, the industry is responsible for 10% of the globe’s annual carbon emissions into the atmosphere. Ahn is on a mission to change just that. Ahn, a Georgetown student and environmental activist, is working to put an end to this startling statistic through his sustainable clothing line, SAIL.
SAIL is revolutionizing the fashion industry through ethical sourced and organically made materials, as well as a partnership with the Reef Life Foundation. Ahn met to share his passion for sustainability, the vision behind his business, and the exciting plans he has for the future.
1. What is sustainability to you? Living sustainably is hard, especially in the world we live in today. Sometimes it seems to be damn near impossible. However, I think sustainability starts with recognizing our own social and environmental responsibility.
2. Why did you decide to launch a sustainable fashion brand?
I’ve always had a love for nature stemming from a young age when we would go on trips to the beach or go skiing. I’ve also always had a passion for video making and photography. Taking various photos and videos for my friends’ projects and businesses made me curious about starting my own business.
Combining my two interests led me to launch OMNIWOAH, a line of travel equipment and camera gear. OMNIWOAH was successful from the onset, making just shy of $100k in revenue within the first three months. However, launching a business while still in school is no joke and requires grueling hours. While I was learning a lot (both in and out of class) and growing the business, something about OMNIWOAH just didn’t feel right. While I was making good money, the brand was never just about the money. Without sounding too cringe-y, I honestly felt like helping others was what was missing. This is when the idea for SAIL came about. I had worked with various clothing brands before so I knew that I wanted to go that route. After learning that fashion is one of the most polluting industries in the world, it just clicked. I wanted to launch a clothing line that could change the fashion industry. While fashion is a tremendous pollutant, it’s not obviously so.
Through SAIL, I want to educate people about the impact of fashion on our environment. Not only do I want to make sustainable fashion a lot more accessible but I also want to help people live more sustainably. Now, while I’m again juggling my new business while also a sophomore in Georgetown University, I found the purpose that was missing in my early venture and this gives me that extra motivation.
3. What is SAIL’s ethos/mission and what sets it apart from other up and coming sustainable fashion brands?
SAIL recognizes that the one of the best ways for fashion to become sustainable is by simply buying used clothing and buying less – quality over quantity. While other big sustainable clothing brands may not want to admit that in order to generate sales, for me, SAIL has never been about the money. For our future collections, I intend to go thrifting and add SAIL’s unique touch to it. We will continue to produce organic cotton clothing and also add used clothing designs to the SAIL collections.
4. How have you implemented your own sustainable values with SAIL?
Another sustainable practice that I do is recycling all the plastic bags I get from stores. Bringing my own practice into my brand, we use recycled plastic for all of SAIL’s plastic packaging.
5. What is your design process like?
At SAIL, we’re all about our community and so our design process usually starts with the feedback we get from our customers. While we’ve just done our first drop, we’ve already gotten a fair amount of feedback that we’ll be implementing into our new designs.
6. In terms of transparency, where are SAIL’s collections made and who makes them?
We work with a factory in Turkey. Being transparent and working with ethical manufacturers is very important to us. In line with this, our supplier has proper documentation for the organic cotton we use and are committed to fair pay.
7. Why did you decide to support the Reef Life Foundation?
I reached out to various organizations and got offers to work with many of them. I chose Reef Life not only because they align with SAIL’s mission of protecting our environment and my own love of nature but also because of their scalability and enthusiasm.
8. What can we expect from SAIL in the future?
SAIL is more than a sustainable clothing line. I see it as a community that fosters environmental diligence and awareness. What also makes SAIL different from other sustainable brands is our commitment to making a direct impact in our community. Our future plans include hosting workshops and informational sessions in schools to raise awareness about the detrimental effects of the current fashion system on the environment, as well as the importance of using sustainable fabrics and recycled plastic, among others. At SAIL, we truly believe that buying less is better.
Ultimately, SAIL’s goal is to make a major statement against fast fashion and to inspire consumers and major clothing brands to be more environmentally aware and more importantly, to act consciously.
Through SAIL, Ahn continues to push boundaries and challenge the very notion of fast fashion. Ahn’s fearless nature and unwavering commitment to his company’s mission and brand have driven the success of his company. SAIL is about more than fashion.
As Ahn said himself, SAIL is a community, a movement, and the very shift needed in the age of consumerism. In promoting sustainable living and ethical shopping and partnering with the Reef Life Foundation, SAIL continues to encourage more conscious consumerism. We are eager to follow SAIL along their journey and witness the positive impact the brand has on our environment.