Birmingham Startup Champions Sustainable Fashion and Small Businesses

Eccentric and extremely beautiful at its essence

Birmingham Startup Champions Sustainable Fashion and Small Businesses

[] FASHION –Birmingham resident and entrepreneur Milagros “Mila” de Souza is revolutionizing the fashion industry with her innovative approach to consumption. In 2022, the 23-year-old launched The Clothing Library, a subscription service that rents out secondhand clothing sourced from local vendors.

De Souza is a participant in Birmingham’s division of Venture for America, a two-year fellowship program that fosters entrepreneurship through a network of investors and industry experts.

After earning her degree from Duke University in 2021 with a focus on sustainable fashion, de Souza recognized an opportunity to merge her passion for business with her commitment to environmental sustainability.

“When I was in college, I created my own major and studied the impact of sustainable fashion on society. I delved into the accessibility challenges within the industry,” de Souza explained. “Sustainable fashion is better for the environment, the makers, and often your wallet, but it’s not always the first choice for consumers.”

The United Nations highlights the environmental benefits of sustainable fashion, such as conserving water and reducing pollution and waste. For example, producing a single pair of jeans requires about 7,500 liters of water. Furthermore, 85% of textiles end up in landfills or are incinerated, even though most materials can be reused. Every second, an equivalent of one garbage truck full of textiles is discarded.

“Instead of starting firsthand and becoming secondhand through the rental process, we partner with local secondhand resellers, thrift stores, and consignment shops to source our items,” de Souza said. She has confirmed partnerships with Birmingham’s D’Trespa Consignment & Vintage Boutique and Quake Plus-Size Resale.

“With The Clothing Library, we aim to support our vendors with passive income, enabling them to expand their businesses as needed,” de Souza added. “We hope to empower people to build businesses that are not constrained by market pressures or financial limitations.”

De Souza's initiative not only promotes sustainable fashion but also supports local businesses, making a positive impact on both the environment and the community.