• Jessica Whelan

The Phoenix Origin Story

(2 min read)


Waste is nothing new. Lately waste feels so out of control, and like me you may have felt a little helpless in the face of so much stuff all the time - not to even mention all the packaging for that stuff. Since I’ve always been interested in all kinds of waste, I’m curious. Where does this thing come from and where will it go? How does the lifecycle for an object work? How many people enjoy it?


Before I had kids I was a pretty devoted thrift shopper for many reasons. The creativity because of the need to be resourceful in the face of relatively few options. Finding unique things and buried gems. Getting away from glitzy places with loud music and people hard selling at me.


After kids it was different. Without time to visit shops and browse, I ended up shopping fast fashion online because I was exhausted and overwhelmed. Of course the kids looked cute, but I didn’t feel good about it. I paid attention to the news and learned of factories imploding or catching fire and killing workers. About pollution from textile manufacturing damaging parts of the world where people already have very little. It felt doubly cruel to not only fail to honour people’s human rights as workers but to also damage the places they live.


While discussing these issues with other parents one day, a friend said she wished she could buy secondhand 100% but just didn’t have the time or patience. I realized this was something special I could offer to families. A way to create more time for harried, overworked and underappreciated parents. To do something to inject some calm and simplicity into frazzled lives. Greta Thunburg and the climate strikes and marches she inspired all over the world motivated me too. If I started a business, it had to be something that contributed to our kids’ future in a positive way - more than financially. And so Phoenix Preworn was born.


Phoenix comes from renewal. The idea of a capsule wardrobe isn’t exactly new. But the movement of people eager to embrace minimalism today is a rebirth of ideas that began generations ago. The goal is to make getting dressed absolutely effortless and joyful every day, while stepping off the treadmill of microtrends (which are just rapid-cycle planned obsolescence). Being freed from small decisions like what to wear allows our minds to focus on making smart choices about the big stuff.


Preworn came from my research. The most influential piece of writing that I came across was Dana Thomas’s ‘Fashionopolis’. The book spends time cheerleading innovation in high fashion, but also concludes with an indisputable fact: the most sustainable clothes are the ones that already exist. I decided to combine the simplicity and ease of a capsule wardrobe with a climate- and future-friendly commitment to secondhand garments.


Now that you know our story, we invite you to share yours. What brought you here? What’s the most important aspect of family life you wish you had some help with?


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