Deciding to switch gears in your career can be as daunting as it can be tempting. Even if you do decide to take the leap of faith and go in a different direction, the feelings of self-doubt are inevitable and a core part of every major shift. The hard part isn’t necessarily deciding to make the change, but navigating what comes after that decision. This creates space for exploration and determination, but most importantly, listening to your intuition.
Cassandra Dittmer is the perfect example of what going with your gut should look like. By making the big switch from traditional styling to e-styling, she utilizes her international network of sustainable, fair trade, and ethically made products to curate the perfect wardrobe for her clients looking to embrace a more conscious lifestyle. By working with sustainable brands, Cassandra has experienced first hand just how important each step of product development is, which naturally led her to start her own sustainable fashion brand which includes gender neutral clothing. Cassandra’s grit and dedication to sustainability have inspired us, and we are beyond happy to be given the opportunity to cover her story in the Cool Faces of Bastet Noir series.
I am founder and creative director of an independent clothing brand called Conscious Design Studio & am a sustainable digital stylist. My mission is to normalize sustainable fashion by making it more approachable and accessible to anyone who wants to wear it.
What’s your morning routine like?
I am typically an early riser! Coffee, exercise, and meditation round out a typical morning for me. I am more creative in the morning when I’m fresh, I use this time for brainstorming, conceptualizing, and completing writing oriented tasks.
We truly admire your commitment to honouring sustainability when it comes to fashion styling, as these two things rarely go hand in hand. What is one of the most important aspects you look for when choosing which brands you work with?
I vet brands through considering and analyzing their long term sustainability strategies and see if they are aligned with my own. I look for transparent and honest communication in regards to how their products are made. Largely, this provides insight into the people behind the brand and ethics the company operates from. The biggest difference for how I approach styling, is that I believe in collaborating through a values-driven lens first and foremost. Sustainability is core to our Conscious Design Studio and indicates how we participate with brands and clients alike.
You have totally embraced the perks of living in a digital age when it comes to styling. You offer a sustainability-focused eStyling service that is open to all, as opposed to traditional styling which might have a stigma surrounding it regarding its exclusivity. How has starting this service impacted your work as a stylist?
Evolving my business to thrive digitally was not only necessary in a pandemic induced era, but also pushed me to truly think and evolve outside of the box, in regards to both my intentions and mission for defining who I am as a stylist and creative. This progression has allowed me to spend more time being thoughtful and immersed, while researching and partnering with brands, as opposed to schlepping around shopping and contributing to the over consumption problem we face societally. The future of style should be focused not only on aesthetic, but on the integrity of brands that bring a project to life. Today I’m able to focus on serving as a resource through spending more time researching and contributing to sustainability initiatives, while in-turn, truly becoming the brand expert I’ve always strived to be.
In addition to eStyling, you have recently founded Conscious Design Studio, a private label brand produced ethically and sustainably in Bangladesh. Could you talk a little bit more about how this idea came to be and how you are tackling sustainability through your practices?
The idea for CD Studio came from a void in the market that both myself and my product manager faced while searching for sustainable and elevated clothing, meant for every-day wear. We wanted to create core items that serve as perfect additions to both simplify and add interest to one’s wardrobe. With 5 out of the 11 styles of our first collection being genderless in design, our goal is to continue evolving into a truly inclusive brand that can stand the test of time. Right now about 80% of our garments are made from organic or sustainable fabrications and 100% of them are made ethically in factories that impact garment workers and our environment in a positive way.
Three things you wish you knew before starting out?
Sometimes I think if I knew more I wouldn’t have started! I wish I had known that I would be most successful when I lead with my values and trust my gut. When you are starting something new it’s normal for people to not understand your vision and have you second guessing your decisions. This breaking point is how you know you are doing something truly unique, special and forward-thinking. You aren’t going to have it all figured out right away. It is perfectly acceptable to get discouraged by imposter syndrome. I know I look to brands that seem to have it all figured out and can be impatient to have my own version of success. It’s important to remember that no one is you and no one has your secret sauce!
Biggest setback in life and what you’ve learned from it?
I quit a cushy job in January of 2020 and moved from Seattle to London. Having all of my jobs cancelled for almost a year took a huge toll on my mental health, confidence, and wallet. Now coming out of this pandemic, I wouldn’t replace that forced reset for anything. It’s not ideal that we had to go through such devastation to have expedited growth, but I’m happy that we are here. I feel like the fashion industry is finally coming around to transparency and sustainability and I’m so happy to be at the forefront of such an important and necessary shift in trajectory. The career pivots I have made over the last 2 years were built with intention, integrity, and urgency. I truly felt like I had nothing to lose and everything to gain so I wanted to focus on career paths that were aligned with my values, operated with less ego, and brought me closer to my people.