Giving the fashion industry an eco-friendly makeover with Selina Ho

Never in her life did Selina Ho think she would write a book, but she did just that — and started a business while she was at it.

Recloseted founder Selina Ho seated among plants
Recloseted founder Selina Ho
Photo credit: Vincent Le

After watching “True Cost,” a documentary about the ugly truth behind how garments are made, Ho was devastated.

Fueled by the desire to right the wrongs of the harmful fashion industry, Ho launched Recloseted as a platform to bring light to the pressing issues and educate others on how to achieve impeccable style without costing the environment. Recloseted has since evolved into a consulting agency that scales slow fashion brands and performs sustainable “makeovers” to help brands become more eco-conscious.

The Vancouver-based entrepreneur shared with Cold Tea Collective about how she unintentionally authored a book and how she is changing the world, one closet at a time.

THE BEGINNING

“I have always loved fashion; I grew up thinking it was a great way to express yourself and your creativity, but I had no idea how harmful it could be,” said the sustainable fashion advocate.

Skeptical at first, Ho dug deeper. From the insurmountable textile waste to the unethical treatment of workers, she realized that “not only was it bad — it was worse.”

The grave discovery inspired her to create an online community — which comprised of the Recloseted Radio podcast, blog, and Instagram account — to empower others to make intentional purchase decisions. 

After dedicating more than 10,000 hours of research, it became apparent to Ho that a critical piece was missing: a resource that spoke to the everyday consumer who was just starting their slow fashion journey.

She took matters into her own hands and began weaving together “The Recloseted Handbook,” a guide on how to be a stylish and conscious consumer.

“I was doing so much research and was sitting on so much knowledge, I thought I might as well put it together,” she said.

Entrepreneur Selina Ho and two associates in an office filled with lush plants
Photo credit: Vincent Le

When she started generating income from the book, Ho saw the potential for turning her passion project into a business.

Ho’s expertise in digital marketing and her advocacy naturally laid the groundwork for starting a consulting agency. However, it wasn’t until a friend pointed out the obvious link that she seriously considered this path.

“The hardest part I found was just starting,” the self-published author said. “You have to have so much courage to start.”

As a first-generation Asian Canadian, she revealed that one of the initial hurdles was communicating her newfound venture to her parents. That was why Ho only presented her business idea to her parents after she had solidified her plans and was earning some income.

“My parents moved to Canada, and I’m so grateful for that,” she said. “You want to make sure you do right by that and honour that privilege and build on top of that.”

MAKING SPACE FOR MENTAL HEALTH

As the sole founder of Recloseted, Ho admitted that it could feel very lonely sometimes.

“The ‘highs’ are so high, and ‘lows’ are so low,” she said. “It’s important to surround yourself with the right friends and people who get what you’re doing.”

Ho’s genuine passion for her work was key to her success, but the constant workload eventually led to a burn-out. This compelled her to change her lifestyle and prioritize her well-being.

“If you don’t take care of yourself, you can’t take care of your to-do list and your business,” she said.

Recloseted founder Selina Ho sitting in a stairway
Photo credit: Vincent Le

Ho enjoys meditating, doing yoga, and spending time in nature, which allows her “to clear [her] mind and be creative.”

Other than taking time away from work, Ho also cleared space in her life for more healthy, meaningful connections.

“I purged my closet, I purged beauty, and I also purged my relationships,” she said. “I want to make sure I’m surrounding the right people who support me or inspire me — not people who draw energy away from me.”

CHANGING MINDSETS

The former fast fashion shopper believed in leading by example and providing tangible options that people can act on, rather than “shoving it down their throats.”

“It’s about inspiring people with your actions,” Ho said. “I believe in empowering people with information, so it’s more long-lasting.”

Ho walked the talk. After becoming an active advocate in the online space, she committed to a six-month “no-buy” challenge in order to adopt a minimal approach to her closet.

“Every time I felt sad or stressed, I would go shopping, [but] the next day I felt guilty and had the ‘hangover effect’,” she said. “I started doing substituting [sic] with nature and meeting up with friends, and using that as a pick-me-up instead.”

Selina Ho and two friends relaxing in a lush plant-filled office
Photo credit: Vincent Le

Ho saw an overall improvement to her quality of life and invites others to join her on her journey.

“Every single person I’ve talked to and interacted with online has been receptive. Everyone sees the climate change happening around us. There’s so much going on that you can’t deny it, and you just have to do your part.”

HOW TO BECOME STYLISHLY SUSTAINABLE

Sustainable fashion has a reputation of being expensive and out of reach. However, according to Ho, there is something for every conscious consumer regardless of budget.

“A lot of people think starting sustainability fashion is hard, but the first thing you can do is just buy less,” she said. “[Then] you realize you don’t need all the things you are buying.”

Ho suggests a multitude of other affordable options, such as thrifting, swapping clothes, and borrowing from friends.

Photo credit: Vincent Le

Holidays and birthdays are also opportunities for making sustainable choices. Ho urges others to share their preferences in order to avoid unwanted gifts.

“Holidays are a wasteful culture,” she said. “I started telling people that I’d rather they get me a memory — like going on a trip together — or cash or a gift card, than something I don’t really love.

“Little steps are great; they will snowball into bigger steps,” she said. “Things are happening — Forever 21 is going bankrupt, and H&M and Zara are incorporating sustainability goals. The needle is moving.”

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