Fashion / Shopping

New Fort Worth Store Puts Women-Owned Brands That Care in the Spotlight — Inside Etico

Can Fashion Change the World?

BY // 11.25.19

If you find yourself on Magnolia Avenue in Fort Worth, you will stumble upon a new store called Etico. Immediately, you’ll realize the space has an eclectic feeling that comes with the merging of multiple cultures.

But Etico is more than just a store. With nine female-owned brands that are all sustainably made, Etico and its partners have set out to create a global community through fashion.

Marissa Heyl, owner of Symbology Clothing and co-founder of Etico, initially came up with the collective boutique model that became Etico, but she’s quick to admit she couldn’t have done it without co-founders, Sandra Falcon and Pamela Lozoya, owners of Luna Antigua.

“Sandra and Pam have a great eye for merchandising and I really appreciate how they communicate culture through their fashion forward designs,” Heyl says.

Heyl studied anthropology, journalism and human rights at University of North Carolina and in her twenties, she set out to find her purpose in the world. In 2006 Heyl traveled to India and fell in love with block printing. This led to a lot of Project Runway, pattern construction and an eventual internship.

In 2012, Symbology was born as an e-commerce brand. Symbology features handmade dresses in inclusive sizes with block printing and hand beading in feminine silhouettes and sophisticated patterns.

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“I wanted clothes that would spark joy and showcase the culture of the women that make the clothes,” Heyl tells PaperCity Fort Worth.

Etico Fort Worth
Magnolia Avenue was chosen as the designated home for Etico after all founders observed its supportive community and steady foot traffic. (Photo by Christina Q Photography)

After six years as an e-commerce brand, Heyl was ready for the next step. This meant a brick and mortar store, a co-op model with a much deeper purpose.

“Ultimately, I wanted to create a really unique space that promoted community,” she says. “I wanted to expose people to various cultures and have stories connected to their shopping experience, but never sacrificing style or ethics.

“I wanted people to leave feeling informed, but never preached at.”

Shopping Small

Heyl met Falcon and Lozoya, owners of Fort Worth based Luna Antigua, at a Shop Small Fort Worth event. Falcon and Lozoya are childhood friends turned business partners who share a passion for their Guatemalan heritage and started Luna Antigua to showcase artisan-made clothing with looming techniques that have been passed down since the days of the ancient Maya.

Each of their blouses and tunics are made with intricate embroidery that make each piece heirloom-worthy.

“We knew a brick and mortar was the logical next step for Luna Antigua and we had been on the hunt for the perfect place,” Falcon says. “Luckily, the small business community here is very tight knit.”

Heyl, Falcon and Lozoya decided to co-found Etico, a sustainable collective. The idea behind the boutique was a fair trade business model designed to connect women across the world and celebrate female entrepreneurship.

Magnolia Avenue was chosen as the designated home for Etico after all founders observed its supportive community and steady foot traffic. The dream team began partnering with other brands to bring into the cooperative.

In the end, they recruited seven more brands: Jimani Collections, Darzah, Love Struck Candle Co., 2ndKIND Skincare, Bred & Butter Stationary, AllieJaymes handbags and Deena Abdul Designs

“We were so excited to bring unique brands to Etico and collaborating with other female business owners,” Falcon says.

The Stories of Etico

The best part of Etico is the fact that each and every brand has a story and makes you feel connected to the artisan who produces the product. Each and every item has been made thoughtfully and ethically, so you have no fast fashion guilt. The store carries a wide range of goods including clothes, accessories, home goods and even skincare products.

Jimani Collections, owned by Jennifer Bently, features minimalist jewelry designs made by Kenyan women, which it employs and helps educate. High quality stationary made by Jenna Bredhoeft’s company Bred & Butter dot the space.

There are even handcrafted shoes from Janette Habashi’s Darzah project. The nonprofit, ethical brand specializes in “tatreez” embroidery, an ancient art form from the West Bank passed down from mother to daughter.

Need a handbag that perfectly punctuates an outfit? Etico has two handbag brands.

Deena Abdul designs from Egypt with wooden clutches with brass closures are a show stopper. AllieJaymes’ leather handbags are handmade by a Fort Worth-based mother and daughter team. The result is California chic that can carry you from season to season.

Founders Jennifer White and Kristin Zaldana are leading the charge for non-toxic, small batch products for you and your home. Since becoming a mother, White wanted to be a lot more mindful of what chemicals she introduced in her home.

Through this, she created The Love Struck Candle Co., featuring candles and room sprays in innovative scents such as Namaslay and Gnome Stubble. Zaldana’s skincare line, 2ndKIND, is the result of being diagnosed with a hormone condition that she believes originated from using chemical-laden skincare. She has created ethical, cruelty-free and organic products to combat the usual hormone disrupting chemicals found in other skincare.

Etico Fort Worth
The idea behind Etico centers around a fair trade business model designed to connect women across the world and celebrate female entrepreneurship. (Photo by Christina Q Photography)

The ladies of Etico have big plans for their future and are excited to bring many ethical, handcrafted and female-owned products to the forefront in Fort Worth while also becoming a mainstay in the community. Heyl even shared a plan to use the back room of the boutique as a Moroccan tea lounge.

“My goal is to create a place where people can disconnect from their phones, have conversations and read books,” Heyl says. “We are fully aware that ethical fashion can be a little heavy, but we don’t want that to be a factor here.

“We’re going for a fun and light-hearted vibe.”

Falcon also sees the impact.

“We hope to bring even more female entrepreneurs into this supportive community and take their brand to the next level,” she says. “We are planning to host marketing workshops and branding consultations.

“We’ve seen the impact our brands have in our artisan’s communities and our desire to empower local women to take the next step in their venture.”

If the Fort Worth store proves successful, the trio would potentially like to expand Etico into Dallas. Regardless of future plans, Etico’s nine brand partners never lose sight of their larger purpose.

“At the end of the day, this movement proves that fashion is such a powerful platform,” Heyl says. “The more we can do to elevate artisans and tell their stories, the more we can use this platform to recognize our shared humanity and celebrate that we are so much more alike than we are different.”

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