Retail, Small Business & Startups, and Technology

Online ‘ethical fashion’ store to launch this fall

August 4, 2017
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Joon + Co
Becky VandenBout. Courtesy Studio Phrené

An entrepreneur with a background in web development and electrical engineering will launch an online store this fall focusing on ethical and sustainable fashion.

Becky VandenBout, of Belmont, said she will launch her e-commerce website Joon+Co. on Sept. 12.

VandenBout said the store will sell women’s apparel, accessories, gifts and eventually home goods that are “responsibly sourced all the way down the ladder, from concept to final sale.”

A 2007 graduate of Kettering University with a B.S. in electrical engineering, VandenBout spent the past decade working as a systems engineer and an app and front-end web developer, most recently at Grand Rapids-based Envoy Platform.

She said the idea for Joon+Co. was born when she noticed a gap between online fashion retailers and “responsible retail and manufacturing processes.”

“I’ve always been addicted to fashion and high-end home goods and gifts,” VandenBout said. “However … once you dig a bit deeper, it’s not very hard to see how terrible and irresponsible some of these companies’ practices are with regard to the environment, their workers and animals. It gets worse as you investigate further down the supply chain.”

Joon+Co. will sell vegan, sustainable, fair trade, made in the U.S. and/or community- and diversity-driven products, including jewelry, vegan outerwear and luxury garments made from tencel, “one of the softest and most sustainable fabrics in the world,” VandenBout said.

“Communicating the story behind each item, as well as what ethical criteria it meets is a vital part of our existence as an ethical fashion retailer, so each item purchased will include a story card as well as online profile specific to the designer and their ethos,” she said.

While the company will launch as an online-only platform, VandenBout aims to eventually put down brick-and-mortar roots in Grand Rapids and Detroit.

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