Chloé Jo Davis
Who: Founder of Girlie Girl Army
What: The ultimate stylish guide to conscious, cruelty-free living
When: Founded in 1999
Where: New York, girliegirlarmy.com
If anyone's the poster child for stylish, ethical living, it's Chloé Jo Davis. The New York-based, UK-born activist worked as a party promoter and then as celebrity liaison at Farm Sanctuary before she created Girlie Girl Army -- the "glamazon guide to conscious living." The website covers everything from fashion to wellness to animal rescue, with a robust contributor list of movers and shakers in the cruelty-free world, including Victoria Moran of "Main Street Vegan," Olsenhaus designer Elizabeth Olsen, and Marisa Miller Wolfson of Vegucated. The site's fanbase is equally impressive, with celebrities like Emily Deschanel and Simone Reyes singing the praises of Girlie Girl Army's decidedly sleek, sharp take on all things eco- and animal-friendly.
True to its name, the "army" is ever-expanding, and ever-inclusive. While the online landscape can be ultra-competitive, Davis has found success through fostering community instead of rivalry. She's featured writing from like-minded bloggers such as The Little Foxes' Ashlee Piper, The Discerning Brute's Joshua Katcher, and Mama Glow's Latham Thomas on her site, and Davis herself stars in an About.com video series highlighting eco-friendly living.
Davis is also involved in a plethora of other ethical-living-related activities, including TV appearances and animal rescue, not to mention raising two kids (with a third on the way). And she does it all in style. She's known for her fashion prowess -- the multi-tasker has made the rounds at runway shows and been featured in Italian Elle, for starters -- and her sexy, sophisticated ensembles.
Add it all up for the ultimate proof that the most compassionate choices can also be the coolest choices. "You don't have to sacrifice a thing, and there are perfect equivalents of all animal products -- be it in food, beauty, or fashion," Davis said.
She also shared her style tips, what's next on her busy calendar, and the indie jewelry designer she can't get over.
When did you go vegan, and what was the process like for you?
I went sort of veg (what I called "pesco-vegan") after dating a vegan a hundred years ago who told me about factory farming -- and then all the way vegan with my now husband, nine years ago after watching Peaceable Kingdom. It's such a no-brainer when you find the irrefutable health benefits, environmental tragedy of eating animal products, and the connection to world hunger of eating meat -- not to mention the hideous way we treat animals in factory farms. Now veganism is so mainstream than anyone with a computer can watch Earthlings, Vegucated, or the other incredible documentaries on veganism to enlighten themselves.
How would you describe your personal style?
I used to say high glam drag queen; now it's more creative eco-mommy. I'm pregnant with my third baby, so I wear a mixture of great vintage, organics, and leftovers from my party girl days that I can breastfeed in.
What are some other ways your style has evolved over the past few years?
It's more about comfort than dressing to impressing on a day-to-day [basis]. I always say I was the girl who could put on fake eyelashes in a moving taxi and run the length of the city in 6-inch heels. Now I thank the goddesses for fake Uggs and a good, well-fitting pair of sweatpants! I learned how to be comfortable with no make up or accoutrements. My most gorgeous accessories are my little boys, Panther and Freedom.
What's your go-to apparel item for this transitional period heading into cold weather?
A great army jacket. People malign fast fashion, and rightfully so, but some of it does last as long as any other brand. I have an H&M army jacket that I've been wearing for 15 years, and it always looks cool. I'm also going to grab [this season's new] velvet ruby cape jacket from Vaute Couture. I love a high-low mix. Even in my glam girl days, I always threw in something dirty or messy looking. I was a LES rock 'n' roll girl in my late teens and early 20s, and I'll always be a little bit of that rebellious girl -- even as a mom on the Upper East Side.
Who are some of your favorite designers of all-time?
Just aesthetically I love Temperley, Mara Hoffman, and Missoni. But ethically I adore Daniel Silverstein's Zero Waste collection. He's a real innovator. I live for Stella McCartney's sportier looks. I wear Dalia gowns to a lot of events because they are really glam and well made. Also, she labels her dresses as vegan. Jewelry designer Adina Mills is a witchy magician of wearable art. I am mad for her work. I love Hatch for high-end maternity. Bravado makes the best nursing bras. I could go on and on.
Which writers do you admire the most?
Laura Nyro, as a poet. She was beautifully dark in an uplifting way. Her music has been the soundtrack of my life. Jeanette Winterson is frighteningly brilliant. I just finished her "Why Be Happy When You Can Be Normal," which made me faint with every page. Erica Jong will always hold a place in my heart.
What's your core cruelty-free shopping strategy?
I really try get new things in this order of best to least:
1. Swap with my stylish BFF's (greenest option)
2. Vintage (scour labels for any verboten fabric)
3. Gifted (OK, I'm really lucky -- designers send me lots of gorgeous things to wear)
4. Eco-friendly, indie-made, organic et al. -- via shopping at eco-sites or boutiques
Any choice tips for a fashion-loving lady looking to transition to a vegan wardrobe?
I've always said that starting by donating your furs to Coats For Cubs is the first step. Then sell or donate your leather and use that money towards new ethical gear. From then onwards -- scour your eco-style icons for ideas and inspiration.
What's a good tip for someone who is a bit timid when it comes to fashion but wants to become more daring?
One small piece that pops -- even if it's just a ring. Or a red lip. Always take a risk. Nobody remembers the woman in the little black dress; it's the lady in red who gets the turned heads.
If you could only use two beauty products for the rest of your life, what would they be?
Rosewater spray, I can't live without it. Something shifts in me energetically whenever I spray it on. Hurraw lip balm -- the best for us ethnic gals with full pouts.
What's your favorite thing to snack on these days?
Faux Gras (vegan foie gras) or Dr-Cow (cashew cheese) -- both made in Brooklyn, both addictive, clean, and overloaded with protein.
If the sky were the limit, what new fashion pieces would you buy right now?
Girl, don't get me started. It would start with couture vintage caftans, that's for sure.
What's next for you and Girlie Girl Army?
I'm going to be a spokes-mom for a few great green brands with this pregnancy, and About.com is still running my series, so those will keep coming out over the next year. You can use the search engine on About.com or on girliegirlarmy.com to watch the episodes. There's always more on the horizon, but I've finally learned to keep my trap shut 'til the ink is dry! My main project this year will be having my third baby.