When Jules Carey found herself growing increasingly disillusioned with the way big brands were tackling – or failing to tackle – issues around sustainability, she decided to take a step back and figure out what is was she really wanted to do.
After some contemplation and careers advice, Jules followed her passion and set up Brave Forest, a series of inspiring talks by fascinating female speakers from our very own borough. We caught up with Jules ahead of her upcoming event, You Are What You Wear, Can we Sustain Fashion?, to find out about her motivations, mission and future ambitions.
Brave Forest’s event is on Thursday 17th October at Creative Works. Get your tickets via @e17braveforest’s Insta bio or below.
Hi Jules! Firstly, what inspired you to leave your previous role in events production?
I’d been working as a large-scale event producer for about a decade before I made the move. My role was always really fun and interesting; I got to travel a lot and work with some great brands, but I found myself getting increasingly disillusioned with the industry.
As well as the long hours and constant juggling, there was a lot of waste.
For some projects we’d create these huge bespoke promotional pieces. Nobody was concerned about the materials we were using or what was going to happen to them afterwards. Once, for instance, we had to print an expansive wall poster made of vinyl for an event – there was an error in the printing so we had to reprint it overnight, at a cost of 7000 Euro, with both versions then going to landfill two days later.
“I was more excited about what I could do with something after a job than I was about sorting the job out.”
I’ve always been passionate about environmental issues on a personal level but when you work for some of these large businesses you inevitably end up turning a blind eye.
The only job I’d worked on where sustainability was taken seriously was in 2012 for a brand that sponsored the London Olympics. We had to assess how the people working on the job were travelling to work, what materials we were using and what we did with them afterwards.
I loved this, and eventually it got to the stage where I was more excited about what I could do with something after a job than I was about sorting the job out. I was always thinking about how to recycle; from donating plants to hospices to working with an organisation to give away stationery to local schools.
Brands need to accept that they’re going to have to invest in sustainable practices, even if it means spending a bit more. I’d be interested in going back at some point down the line to help them to do it.
Why did you start Brave Forest, and what was the thinking behind the name?
I’ve always been freelance, but this year I just didn’t chase any work. I took some time out to decide what I wanted to do and saw a career coach. The problem was, there were just so many things I wanted to do and I struggled to decide what was most important to me.
I knew one thing for certain: I wanted to help women and girls. I’d MC’d a couple of weddings and enjoyed that, and I’m lucky in that I don’t have a fear of public speaking. So I decided to curate a talk series with the aim of showcasing inspiring local women.
“Absolutely everything starts with being brave.”
The “forest” in Brave Forest refers to Waltham Forest (I’m keeping it local). I chose “brave” because absolutely everything starts with being brave. For instance, starting something like this was totally out of my comfort zone. A voice in my head said: “Who am I to put on a talk series? I’ve only been in the borough for two years!”
Can you tell us a bit more about the inspiring women who spoke at your first event, Can You Change the World from Walthamstow?
The event featured three women who were doing very different things but were united in the sense that their work had the potential to have a knock on effect worldwide. The first speaker was Hillary Powell who paid off £1.2 million worth of local people’s debt by buying it on a third party market for £20,000. (She did it by selling artworks.)
It’s a fascinating story and asks questions about what debt is and how does it controls us.
We also had Louise Golden who started the Together Project, an initiative that involves taking toddlers into retirement villages to sing songs and play music with the residents. This is particularly beneficial for people with dementia because they tend to remember childhood moments well. It’s a really interesting model and if it were to be rolled out worldwide, it could have a huge impact.
The third woman was Arifa Nasim, a 23-year old who started a charity when she was just 18 called “Educate 2 Eradicate”. The chairty aims to eradicate honour abuse, FGM and forced marriage, all of which happen here in the UK. She believes that talking about these taboo issues is an important step to tackling them.
What can people expect from your second event, You Are What You Wear, Can we Sustain Fashion?
Since the first event I’ve become a lot more interested in the climate crisis and decided to focus on that. I’d already got a speaker on board to talk about sustainability in the fashion industry quite early on and thought, as there are so many elements to sustainable fashion, it was well worth focusing on.
It’s great that we’re becoming more conscious; many of us are investing in better garments and buying less. But a large part of the problem centres around what happens to our clothes after we’ve used them. Currently, ridiculous amounts are going to landfill and because so much of it contains plastic, it doesn’t break down.
Find out about this talk’s speakers: Gigi Sherri, Amy Horlacher and Ning Vihokhern.
What are some of your ambitions for Brave Forest moving forward?
In the long-term, I’m eager to start a mentorship scheme for local teenage girls in the Waltham Forest area and would love to hook them up with some of our inspirational local women.
Through my series of talks and networking events, I’m trying to build a community, a space where lots of women from different backgrounds can connect. At a time when it feels we’re becoming more fragmented, it’s more important than ever.
Everyone’s story is so different, it’s great to be able to give them a platform.
Follow @e17braveforest on Instagram for empowering content and news on upcoming events.