I sat down with Veronica on a rainy afternoon in South Kensington, London. Veronica was dressed head-to-toe in Everybody & Everyone, a brand she launched October last year. Everybody & Everyone isn’t just a sustainable fashion brand; it is inclusive, relatable, high quality, the perfect brand for the modern-day woman. Veronica is a mother, business woman, sister, and friend. She understands how to make clothes that are good for women and the planet. Veronica’s knowledge of sustainability and the fashion industry were immediately noticeable. She eagerly explained how she has worked in the industry since she was 14. She showed me why every item from Everybody & Everyone is basic, yet unique. She poured water on her leg to show me that the black jeans are water and stain proof. Jumping up, she threw on her coat to demonstrate how it is adjustable and solves many pain points for the typical mother. In her interview, she shared her path to creating her brand, advice for aspiring entrepreneurs, and what it takes to work in the fashion industry today.
Veronica, where did you grow up and what did you study in school?
I grew up in Hong Kong, but I studied in America. My first business was bringing mass market American brands to China. I grew up going to my father’s knitwear and denim factories in China. I often asked: “Why is it so dusty or smelly.” As a child I wondered why the water was weird colors. For high school I attended Choate Rosemary Hall in Connecticut. What was interesting is that when I went to Choate, coming from Hong Kong, I had a very different wardrobe. Everyone wore Abercrombie and J. Crew, and friends wanted to borrow fashion from my dorm room. Then I studied communications at the University of Southern California. Over the summers, I worked in my dad’s factories. I helped open Michael Kors stores. I would spend multiple hours opening boxes and cleaning shelves . I also worked for magazines. I had a lot of great work experiences at a very young age. Working experiences have been super valuable.
What was your first job?
For my first job, I was a sales girl at Tommy Hilfiger. It was good to see how to communicate with the consumer. And to learn from the consumer. That experience can’t be replaced.
Where did your interest in fashion start?
My family is in fashion and apparel. My mom was a fashion designer before I was born. She was a big influence in my life. Like most teen girls, I wanted to be a designer and my dad persuaded me to study business, including encouraging me to work at a bank. Now I have more creative input as the founder. I think creatively in products and in business. When I was a kid, my mother knew how to sew clothes and would say, “Maybe you should hem these pants and all sorts of clothes.” She would take me to the tailor to get things fixed to fit. A lot of our clothing for Everyone & Everyone is adjustable, convertible and practical. I think a lot of it has been influenced by my mother.
What were your most impactful learning experiences working?
Working and experience are so important. And so is traveling. Once you start working you can’t travel as much. I went to Peru for a community service project in university and I always look back on that trip. Once you have your own business, it’s even harder to travel. My inspiration came from a travel experience. I was hiking in Nepal. During the last night camping, I woke up, and I realized the next business I had, it had to be about sustainability and promoting it. That’s when I conceptualized Everybody & Everyone. My work experience has enabled me to make it possible, and my travel experience helped me develop the concept.
You have lived all over the world. Do you have any favorite travel recommendations?
So many places! Peru was super interesting because it was the middle of nowhere. My parents couldn’t find me or contact me for over a week. Nepal was interesting because I had the moment I realized I wanted to create a sustainable clothing brand. China because I worked all over China including fourth tier cities and lots of factories. Copenhagen because I go there for the fashion summit to which I’m an advisor. Because of the summit in Copenhagen, I have learned so much about sustainability.
What does sustainability mean to you? How can clothing be sustainable?
Sustainability means making things without depleting the planet’s resources, firstly lowering carbon footprint, water and energy use, but also making careful choices on materials — using ‘done-better’ natural fabrics which then returns to nature, or using non-virgin synthetics that can be recycled. On the natural track, cotton is very bad, as cotton uses 2.5% of all the farmland in the world, but 20% of all the pesticides. Organic is much better. But things like organic hemp and organic linen are even better than organic cotton, as they use less water. Bio-based innovation is even better, such fabrics made from sustainably sourced wood pulp, fermented sugar, fruits, and food waste, or even biotech lab grown materials. On the fossil fuel petroleum track, for materials such as plastics, polyester, polumaide (nylon), as a brand, we only used recycled and recyclable. The goal in the future would be to move away from petroleum based materials, but that cannot completely happen until significant material science breakthroughs, especially those that enhance the capability of natural materials become commercialized.
Recycling technologies also need to be further developed, because, as of now, it is much harder to recycle mixed fabrics, such as cotton and polyester blends, which the majority of clothing in America are made from. I believe in a world where material science can enable us to live even more convenient and efficient lives, without hurting our planet. As we adhere to these principles to soften our collective impact on the planet, we also offer consumers to join our cause by planting trees with One Tree Planted upon check out, and recycling with our recycling partner i:co.
Besides Everybody & Everyone, do you have some favorite sustainable fashion brands?
The company I look to the most in terms of sustainability is Patagonia. Also Eileen Fisher. They have had a take back program for 10 years. Stella McCartney because they are pioneers in the industry. Thousand Fell, the world’s first circular sneaker. A lot of small sustainable brands are popping up all the time. But unfortunately some are green washing. Besides brands, I’m extremely excited about the material science biotech companies. For example, Modern Meadow, Dirty Labs (biotech clean laundry detergent) There are a few others we are actively working with today and in which we are looking to invest.
What is your goal with Everybody & Everyone? What will it be in 5 years?
I want to get it on everybody and everyone! Not just getting our products on people globally, but also spreading the importance of living sustainably. Material science will allow us to continue to maintain our lives. We can create things that don’t harm the planet, and have even more convenient and better lives. I hope I can influence other companies to do things consciously and responsibly too, and help material science technologies commercialise.
What’s your favorite Everybody & Everyone Product?
All the convertible pieces! The turtle neck because you can remove the neck. Our puffer can be zipped off from long to short. Our Little And A Lot Pant pant can be adjusted at the waist and at the length.
What advice would you give to young people aspiring to work in the fashion industry?
It’s really hard. It’s an industry that works really hard and really long hours. It’s not all glitz and glam as one would think. And it includes a lot of math! And please, whatever you do in fashion, please always think about how it can be done sustainably.
What advice would you give to young entrepreneurs?
Learn as much as you can. Talk to people. Talk to people that have experiences, and learn from other people’s experiences. When I started becoming interested in sustainability, I signed up for newsletters and read all of them, I read articles and researched. My weekends would be learning and reading about everything on sustainability.
What’s one of the largest challenges you have faced, and how did you overcome it?
Right now, my biggest challenge is that Everybody & Everyone is absolutely new. How do we get people to know about it? I’m not a gen z and our customer isn’t gen z, so it’s not going on Tick Tock. Haha It’s about finding the suitable avenues to find my consumer base. It takes time to grow a brand.
What does it mean for you to be powerful?
When I can influence someone to care more about the planet and purchase more eco-friendly products that is powerful. The education to make more conscious decisions.