Aalia Mauro doesn’t just promote sustainable style — she lives and breathes it. The British-born, SoCal-based founder of the new digital marketplace and editorial platform Verte Mode got her first taste of fashion as a teenage model before studying computer science and founding her first startup at age 20. Later, she returned to fashion as a creative director and consultant, helping brands to become more sustainable along the way. Now, Verte Mode unites her passions to explore and sell the best of ethical and sustainable products — including VOZ, of course. Here, Aalia discusses her career path, the lessons of motherhood, and her favorite tips to live more lightly on the earth.
Tell us about your incredible journey from modeling to tech to sustainable fashion.
I was approached by a modeling agency by chance at age 13 and I modeled throughout my school and university years. In addition to fashion, as a child, I was also interested in coding and ended up going to engineering school to study computer science. During this time I co-founded my first tech company at age 20 with some of my peers. I loved starting and building the company, and exited shortly after 4 years to work in the fashion industry. I dabbled in fashion as art director, digital consultant at first, then eventually working as creative director and sustainability consultant for high-end luxury fashion and lifestyle brands. My passion for the environment and climate spilled over into my fashion career, and I’ve helped brands become more sustainable for the past few years.
What inspired you to begin the Verte Mode marketplace, magazine, and podcast?
After working in fashion and Tech for many years, I found a need for a curated marketplace that is authentic and accessible to everyone. Verte Mode will be a luxury marketplace where we have a manifesto and we will be vetting every brand for sustainable and ethical practices throughout the supply chain to ensure sustainability and radical transparency. We hope Verte Mode will be the new future where we shop consciously and support businesses that are doing amazing things for the planet and the people. We will be highlighting brands with products ranging from clean beauty, sustainable fashion to furniture and home goods. It's a one stop shop for all things sustainable. Similarly, Verte Magazine was created to educate and provide accessibility to sustainable and conscious living. On the Verte Vibe Podcast, I interview various experts to discuss topics including sustainable fashion, wellness, climate, low waste living and more.
In your work, you also discuss your love of reading. What is a book you wish you could read for the first time again?
Essentialism is a book I read every year. This has become my go-to book whenever I feel overwhelmed with life. It helps me simplify — but so much more than just that. It helps me analyze my current projects and focus on the 2-3 that will 1) help the most people, 2) have the greatest impact, and 3) be the kind of work I want to be known for.
What inspired you to promote awareness for climate change?
Growing up, my family always had sustainable living practices, most of our clothing were made and mended by local artisans, and we got our veggies from our garden as well as the local market. We were essentially mostly plant-based, and I was taught that time and relationships are more valuable than material things. Those lessons stayed with me throughout my life and when I became a mother, that was a turning point in my life. I went through a transformation where not only did I want to live an environmentally friendly lifestyle but also educate others on the importance of living sustainably, to leave this earth a better place for the future generations.
How does one become a conscious consumer?
There is no one size fits all when it comes to cutting waste and sustainable fashion. Being able to buy sustainably is a huge luxury, and not everyone can afford it. But there are some budget-friendly, simple practices we can all adopt to cut our carbon footprint.
Buy pre-owned, swap, or rent your clothing. By choosing used over new, you eliminate the harmful carbon emitted when producing a new garment, reducing your footprint by 60-70%. If you are buying new, support brands that have achieved a circular or zero-waste supply chain where they offset all emissions and waste from their entire supply chain. Look out for more natural fibers — go for cotton over polyester.
Extend The Wear
Invest in quality items, re-wear them and repair them if necessary to extend their longevity. By extending an item's wear life by just nine months you can reduce the environmental impact by as much as 30%! You’ll be making the most of the natural resources used to produce them, and diverting textiles from landfills.
Care for clothes in low-impact ways that have a smaller environmental toll (and keep garments in good shape for longer). Launder less — most things can be worn a few times before hitting the hamper. Wash in cold — heating water accounts for the majority of your washing machine's energy use. Skip the dryer - air drying is a huge energy savings, plus it’s gentler on your clothes.
And Finally ….
Always think twice before tossing anything! An easy way to extend the use phase of clothing (apart from using it longer yourself) is to re-sell, or donate to friends, family, neighbors and charities. Only 15% of all discarded clothes are sold, donated, or recycled in the US with 85% of them ending up in a landfill.
What are some other inclusive and accessible ways to be eco-conscious?
The evidence shows that, thanks to human activity, global temperatures are rising at a level which isn't sustainable for the environment to be able to survive.
Consider a more plant-based diet, I don't think everyone has to go vegan to make a huge change. The more realistic thing is for the majority of people to cut down meat consumption to a couple of days a week.
Eat as locally as possible: If you support your local farmers' market, you're also supporting more low-scale food agriculture which tends to be more kind to the Earth.
Think about packaging: There are zero-waste shops where you buy unpackaged food. But you can also go to the supermarket, and make better choices by buying unpackaged fruit and vegetables, or opting for cans and cardboard that are widely recycled instead of plastic. So there are better choices that you can make in regular shops.
Cut down on food waste: Plan ahead. Think about what you’re going to cook and how you’ll use the leftovers. Avoid food waste by using leftover ingredients to create tasty meals.