I grew up thinking that building a business was a very complicated ‘art’ where few could succeed. You needed to study for years and years, know all the right people, spend tons of money, and maybe, only maybe, you would strike gold. The safe choice was to do what everyone else was doing: find a corporation and work under their rules and structure. And of course; being different does take an awful lot of energy after all.
Yael Aflafo, CEO and founder of Reformation can’t even relate to that feeling. She has always worked for herself. She has been an active figure in the fashion industry since she was 21 years old. The first brand that she founded was Ya-ya, which was a traditional brand with the traditional ways, and bad factory conditions that we often like to pretend we don’t know about.
In 2009 she decided to change the game. After spending some time watching documentaries on Netflix about the environment, and researching on the subject, she was up to something.
Her company, Reformation, is revolutionizing the fashion business model. ‘Its nothing complicated, really. It’s a matter of choices.’ she says to Iman Hassan from Style RAC during a conversation at Fashion for Breakfast, Miami. ‘When you go to the supermarket to buy toilet paper, you choose to buy either Seventh Generation or a traditional brand.’ And obviously her choice ever since she started Reformation, has been the equivalent of choosing Seventh Generation, meaning those suppliers that are interested on the greater good.
Let’s start with the numbers that make this such a huge shift; did you know that a typical tshirt takes 200 gallons of water, while a Reformation tshirt takes only six? And those beautiful jeans that you love, well, it took 2000 gallons of water to produce them. A pair of Reformation jeans take 800 gallons, which Yael is not fully pleased with yet, but is never-the-less, a big improvement.
In her eyes, building a successful career path is more about having a differentiator and passion.
For me Reformation became one of my truly loved brands when I saw a post on their Instagram feed where ‘Juan’ a Latin American worker at their factory, introduces himself and explains what his work at Reformation is about. I saw it right after reading an article on the thousands of families being torn apart by the new system, and it touched me deeply that this brand would show pride for the immigrants helping them build their business while many others were just pretending they don’t exist.
We all have space for some kind of reformation in the way we live life. Let yourself be inspired by this woman to find yours.
Reformation has a pop-up store in Miami, located in Wynwood, and will soon open a store.