Elevated Layers, founded by style guru Roxy Ortiz, is a clothing rotation service that provides luxury and designer fashion to content creators. With the world facing a great textile waste problem—the annual textile waste of New York City alone is equivalent to 4500 subway cars—Roxy believes that content creators should adopt the sharing economy mindset to reduce waste, save money and be sustainable! Elevated Layers is committed to making use of existing resources in order to take charge of cutting down consumer waste. Continue reading to learn more about Roxy and her company! ?
Tell us more about Elevated Layers. What inspired you to start this company?
With the rise of consumer convenience, fast fashion became the easiest way for influencers to obtain clothing for content. We’ve become accustomed to a vicious cycle that makes us invest our money the wrong way. When I founded Elevated Layers, I wanted to bring this problem to the surface. To do this, I take past season collections from designers’ warehouses and plug them into our rotation model.
There is a hidden world among content creators that has to do with the amount of money they spend on fashion.
Most purchase and return, only to go into debt—all to stay relevant on social media. It’s never a great feeling when you have to return something. As a former stylist, I knew I was not facing this issue alone. With Elevated Layers, I knew I could provide accessible quality to add value to projects and utilize clothing as a tool, all while saving time, money, and most importantly, promoting conscious change.
How would you describe your company?
Elevated Layers is a rotation model initiative designed for content creators and talent agencies. Our membership platform provides 4 quality designer garments per month as tools to add value and grow social presence, while eliminating high cost and textile waste. Exclusive members of our community can rotate 4 items as often as they wish to replenish content and tag better brands, shipping and returns included. In a digital age, we operate in the familiar sharing economy space, the word “rent” has an outdated meaning. We don’t rent cars; we use ride-sharing services. We don’t rent offices; we share spaces at Wework. We don’t rent clothing; we rotate with Elevated Layers.
What were you doing before you started Elevated Layers?
Before I started Elevated Layers, I was working in retail. I was finding and flipping designer clothes, and posting styling ads on Craigslist to survive in Los Angeles. Ultimately, I became a stylist and my main hustle was hunting for deals to hook others up with the best pieces to wear. I wanted to be involved in fashion somehow, and have Sophia Amoruso to thank for her girl boss tactics.
When did you first become interested in sustainability?
I was always making sustainable choices, especially when I first started in styling. I just used words like “pulling,” “borrowing,” and “renting” that were appropriate for what I was doing at the time. The focus on consciousness became an identity of my business through my journey with minimalism. After watching Minimalism: A Documentary About the Important Things, I realized I was a victim of the vicious consumer trap.
Material things were accumulating and quickly taking over my life.
It inspired me to purge to keep what I really needed, which led to evaluating personal relationships and editing my business branding. I dedicated my business and life’s purpose to adding value to the lives of others. “To live with purpose and live a meaningful life.”- The Minimalists.
What has your journey been like as a sustainable entrepreneur?
My journey has been pretty wild, as I actually don’t define Elevated Layers as a sustainable company. I believe there is a much larger challenge to overcome: to inspire creators make more sustainable choices and help them understand there is a new sector to the sharing economy. Clothing should be a layer of added value when it comes to social creativity, and to access quality as a strong tool to help these content creators reach their goals. In the era of monetizing content, we want to present ourselves in the best way we can, by creating visually appealing identities.
Can you describe your daily routine? What’s your typical day like?
Everyday is different and tailored to different areas of the company. I think as an entrepreneur you are required to wear many hats and educate yourself beyond what you know well. Learning your areas of weakness to find experts that help take you to the next level is a large part of the process. I have definitely made many mistakes that have cost me a lot of money and set me back, simply because I didn’t recognize what areas I needed help. It takes a lot of courage to admit you suck at something but I promise the moment you realize you aren’t an expert—you’ll get closer to your goals more quickly.
What is the best piece of business advice you’ve ever received?
I’ve met so many impactful people that I always try to take away a lesson. I think the best advice for me was to learn to listen. I had a huge problem of talking and talking that sometimes I would get caught up and lost in my own words, mostly from excitement and passion. Then I realized no one really knows how I feel except for myself. In order to understand how to help others, you have to shut up! Sometimes, silence is the most effective.
Do you feel like marketing Elevated Layers as sustainable has helped or hindered the company?
I think marketing any company as sustainable will be hindered in some way. I am actually trying to steer away from that and use other words to go outside the sustainable bubble. Call me the “Cardi B” of consciousness because I will speak to others about sustainability without mentioning it. I believe in order to get others on board, we cannot force feed a market who doesn’t understand what sustainability means. There are two separate targets Elevated Layers focuses on: those who are proud to be sustainable and those who love luxury. We are a platform that builds a community of aligned values to encourage small changes that inspire and empower our members in the process. In order to make conscious decisions, we have to set examples and accept all forms of sustainable actions by emotionally connecting together through our love of style.
What are your thoughts on today’s fashion cycle?
Today’s fashion cycle is absolutely bonkers. Social media has this vain way of educating influencers to believe that buying new outfits and photographing them once is the best version of relevant content creation. Creators who want to monetize their content, have to treat their brand like a business. Every influencer that gets paid is considered a small business, and that means they have to invest in the right tools (clothing) like a business in order to grow. There needs to be a shift in the system’s prescribed routine for the results to be lucrative in an era of social media. Simply put: you get what you pay for.
We have been sucked into this fast consumerism trap where cheap convenience is the main selling point. The system wins, with us chasing after the illusion of quantity and leaving quality fashion to the wayside.
How do you believe the fast fashion industry can begin to fix itself?
I don’t think fast fashion can necessarily fix itself, but the industry can certainly take responsibility for the obnoxious amount of textile waste they produce. However, the real culprit is luxury brands. They have done a pretty great job at hiding the fact they burn unsold collections to omit the general public from obtaining garments in fear of diminishing their brand identity. They’ve done it for decades! Get ready for some controversy, sister because I think ruining our air quality is a sh*t ton worse than filling up our landfills with textile waste. If we can’t fit anymore crap around our earth, that means we have to breathe in the waste? I think the F* not.
How can brands manage their waste?
I’m glad you brought this up because this is the problem we are solving. Brands create so much stuff, season after season, collection after collection. Are they even making the money they used to? Or is this just dated business and operations? So I created an alternative that not only saves marketing costs and prevents overproduction, but adds in an ethical layer without diminishing brand identity. Elevated Layers is the platform that helps luxury brands by acquiring their resources at no risk and plug them into our Rotation Model. We provide access to vetted creators to create quality content that not only makes everyone happy, but inspires others to make the ethical choices that combat global textile waste. How ‘bout that? *drops mic* ?
What brands do you look up to?
Hmm. I love different types of brands. Most of them are in the digital space, as I think not having tangible products is the most impactful. It forces us to use our brains. Canva is a company I commend for solving a massive problem most people didn’t even know they had. Whitney Wolfe, founder of Bumble has really added a wide variety of being able to connect with anyone through an app, allowing women to initiate conversations. If I had to pick a fashion retailer—it’s Nordstrom. They know how to add true value in customer relationships and experience. Not to mention they have their own circulation of inventory that isn’t as wasteful, and they use their own resources within their acquisitions. My most favorite “brand” of all: Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus of The Minimalists.
What advice do you have for other entrepreneurs interested in sustainability?
Sustainability is not perfect. There is no definitive answer to what sustainability is or isn’t. However, the more small movements we make together, the closer we get to a larger impact for a better environment. It’s better to have 100 imperfect decisions than 1 perfect one.
And now for some fun stuff. If you weren’t an entrepreneur, what would you be?
Well, if I wasn’t an entrepreneur, I’d probably be an FBI agent or a detective because I really like solving problems and I’m super good at “stalking” and investigating people that might be a little sus. Not for murder stuff but more for fraud and people who think they can get away with bad decisions. Maybe there should be waste police! ?
What are some things you do for fun?
The things I do for fun are mainly music related. Aside from fashion, I love music and I love sound. I like to do either, so I think I’d like to join the two in sound engineering or something.
What is something nobody knows about you?
I can say the alphabet backwards.
Who would you love to see in Elevated Layers?
I think we could add immense—rather, “yuuuuuuuge”—value to Melania Trump.
Where do you like to shop?
I don’t really shop anymore, to be honest. Wait: correction, I don’t traditionally shop. Malls are now super scary to me. Poshmark is my jam—it’s like a sport! I always find sick deals and most of the time, I make offers for hidden gems that most accept and have become part of my inventory (yes, I like to share). My most recent purchase was a pre-owned Saint Laurent beige button up that I got for $35!
What is your favorite thing to wear?
Ugh, so tough. Ok, I’m going to be real. The first time I ever discovered the brand Sandro was at the Cabazon outlets in 2012, on the way to my first Coachella. Though I love pre-owned now, back then I was down for never paying retail and 80% off seemed to be the lucky number. I fell in love with a half leather, half felt-ish jacket that was one size too big—for $95. It was a ridiculously good deal, and even though I couldn’t afford it, I got it anyway. At first, I had buyer’s remorse, but that jacket completed all my outfits and me, in some way. It made me feel cute af.
She kept me warm at night. She always went out with me. She’s traveled the world with me. She’s basically family. As I’m answering this question, I’m wearing her right now. She’s just as new as the day I got her, 7 years later. It just shows that if you invest in quality (even at super duper sale price) you’ll never bat an eyelash at anything else ever again. I’d say we’re legally now married after 7 years *lols*
How do you wear your values?
I’d like to mention Marie Kondo’s “spark joy” rule. Clothing should stick around for a lifetime because they were built to last. To me, that’s true sustainability. Emotional connection going beyond just wear with the quality and joy that lasts for a lifetime.
We should treat our clothing as if they have feelings. They should make us happy. They should support us. They should bring us confidence.
Listen to Roxy on Conscious Chatter Here.
Photos: Courtesy of Elevated Layers