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The Heidi B Show

Apr 22, 2021

Creating an Ethical, Sustainable, and Inclusive Brand with Erin Donaghy

Do you feel like you always have to keep up with the latest fashion trends? Have you ever felt pressured to get the newest clothes and accessories? 

Fast fashion’s business model is to quickly produce cheap and trendy clothes. They encourage consumers to buy more and buy often.  However, it is harmful to the environment. Fortunately, more people are now becoming aware of the adverse effects of fast fashion. There are now more fashion brands that have sustainable and ethical practices.

In this episode, Erin Donaghy joins us to discuss the alternative to fast fashion. Erin is the founder of Applause Lingerie. She shares her journey of creating a brand that is sustainable, ethical, and inclusive. We also talk about how she handles all her responsibilities as a brand owner, a full-time teacher, and a mom.

If you want to learn more about the wonders of sustainable fashion, then this episode is for you!

Here are three reasons why you should listen to the full episode:

  1. Discover the truth about fast fashion and how it hurts the environment.
  2. Learn how Erin turned her dream into reality and built her brand.
  3. Erin shares her top advice for women feeling overwhelmed with all their commitments.


Episode Highlights

Erin’s Journey to Creating Applause Lingerie 

  • Erin started sewing around 20 years ago as a hobby. 
  • She then started taking classes and eventually made fashion her profession.
  • Applause Lingerie was Erin’s dream brand that came true.
  • Lingerie drew Erin in because of its beauty and functionality, but also she thought she could keep this business going by solving the lingerie problem that women have.  
  • Listen to the full episode to hear Erin talk about launching her brand from doing shows to home shoots.  

What Fast Fashion Is and Why It’s Bad for the Environment 

  • Fast fashion is an industry that copies elements from high-end trends. By simplifying the construction process, they produce clothes quickly.
  • Fast fashion promotes the idea that people have to change looks frequently. Because their products are cheap, you don’t think of saving up or focusing on quality.  
  • Overproduction is one of the main problems in fast fashion. 
  • Lots of clothes get thrown away and even burned.

How Applause Lingerie Is Different from Fast Fashion 

  • Erin shops at thrift stores for fabric and upcycles yardage instead of ordering tons of them.
  • Erin also does in-person fittings to make sure that the size is as it should be.
  • Erin does not want to make a bra that someone won’t love. 
  • Applause Lingerie is slow fashion. It’s about putting in the time to get it right.

Erin’s Notable Pieces

  • Aside from bras and panties, Erin also likes making Kimono-style robes.
  • The fabric of bras and certain types of laces are delicate and challenging to work with. 
  • Erin admits that there are times that a good idea doesn’t always translate to a good product.  
  • As a zero-waste designer, Erin takes these failed experiments apart and puts them on a save-someday pile. 

The Challenges in Creating and Delivering a Sustainable Brand

  • Because Applause Lingerie is a smaller brand, one of the challenges is sourcing materials. As much as possible, Erin tries to use materials that are sustainable and ethically made. 
  • When the COVID pandemic struck, in-person fittings became a lot more challenging. 
  • Since people wanted to feel more relaxed while working from home, bralettes became high in demand. 
  • They also couldn’t go pop-ups anymore. 
  • Erin is also hesitant to have influencers promote her brand.  

The Importance of Diversity in Fashion

  • Applause Lingerie’s products are made-to-order. 
  • Because of this, Erin can accommodate people of diverse body sizes while solving the problem of overproduction. 
  • Erin also tries to improve the models she uses to showcase different types of bodies. 

On Erin’s Teaching Career and Her Family

  • Erin is also a full-time Montessori teacher for 4th, 5th, and 6th graders. 
  • After teaching online for almost a year, they’re finally going back in person within two weeks. 
  • Erin is thankful that her two teenage daughters are adaptable and self-directed.
  • Despite having little free time, Erin doesn’t feel resentful because she loves what she’s doing. 

Erin’s Daily Non-Negotiables 

  • Erin likes to have a big breakfast and read the newspaper on the weekends.
  • Erin tries to set 20 minutes aside to do some reading before going on TikTok. 

Erin’s Advice for People Who Are Suffering 

  • It’s okay to feel down if you’re suffering because of the pandemic. 
  • If you’re able, work towards a goal in small steps.
  • With things so out of control, it’s nice to do something for yourself. 

5 Powerful Quotes from the Episode

“When you launch a business, you're ideally solving a problem for someone. And lingerie is a huge problem for women in a lot of different ways.”

“Fast fashion is an industry that basically takes trends, something that would have been seen on a bigger runway from a, you know, high-end designer, takes elements of it, copies it quickly, gets it into production really, really fast, and simplifies the construction process.”

“So many women have been turned off by, you know, ‘oh we don't have that size,’ or, you know, ‘we don't make that size.’ That's, you know, I don't want to put out that message at all.”

“Because I do love my work, I don't feel resentful or grumpy, or, you know, I am doing like, what I love to do… But yeah, building a small business, it's definitely for the courageous.”

“It is important too, if you can, to try to work towards a goal in small steps no matter what it is…  I think it's nice when you can carve out a little something for yourself and be like, ‘I can actually control just this little part, and then I'll try to bring myself joy.’”

About Erin

Erin Donaghy is the founder of Applause Lingerie. Her company is a sustainable lingerie brand based in Tucson, Arizona. Applause Lingerie aims to make women feel beautiful. They can also rest easy knowing that their shopping choices help the environment. By choosing upcycled fabrics or deadstock, Erin strives to be ethical in her production process. Applause Lingerie also promotes inclusivity.  It aims to show diversity in its models through skin color, age, and body size.

Besides being a brand owner, Erin is also an experienced lead teacher with a demonstrated history of working in Montessori education. She is currently teaching 4th, 5th, and 6th graders full-time while raising two teenage daughters. 

Are you interested to know more about Erin and her work? Connect with her on LinkedIn or check out Applause Lingerie’s website. You can also follow them on Instagram, Facebook, and TikTok.

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Heidi B