GUILDED’s Go Go Girls

Tara St James and Bahar Shahpar want to take their role as designers and entrepreneurs to a new role, that of teachers.

How we evolve as professionals could quite easily make up a juicy short story, or in some cases, a stylish novel that would take us around the world. In the case of designers Tara St James (of Study New York) and Bahar Shahpar (designer for her own eponymous label), this writer would probably opt for the novel version having followed both for some time.

The two are currently in the throes of an IndieGoGo campaign for funds they hope to elevate GUILDED, their newest enterprise, where the master plan is to become “the new industry standard for the way we think about design.”

Sustainably fashioned design.

I got to catch up with them at GUILDED this past week to see what was going on and what all the fuss was about.

“With fashion, designers need to start attacking waste from the beginning and use good design and business to make better production. they also need to take a look at the people they work with full time,” says St James, referring to the unseen co-workers in the manufacturing process who help produce a collection.

Right now GUILDED offers one to two classes a week that tackle many of the questions designers and companies new to the sustainable scene have. In their 101 Series: Sustainable Design Fundamentals including (but not limited to), Fibers & Fabric: An Analytical ComparisonLocal Production: Building Efficient Supply Chains and Brand Positioning: Telling the Story of Sustainability, many of these questions are answered.

While they currently hold the classes in GUILDED proper, the two hope the IndieGoGo funding, will enable them to offer more classes digitally so it’s less of a priority to offer a physical space to teach in and they can reach out to people all over the world.

Check out their video on IndieGoGo explaining more abut what they’re hoping to accomplish with proper funding:

Shahpar says what she hopes GUILDED  will become is a place where people can come to understand about how they can create with a conscious.

“Fashion has a direct impact on a lot of things, so we want students to see what knowledge can do and give them the power to do it themselves and not rely on corporate, that there are people like us working behind the scenes everywhere, working from the root of the system,” she says.

St James agrees and adds that there’s a preconceived perception when designers are entering the eco-realm that they need to address everything when they first start out.

“There’s a lot of confusion with design students and lots of sources being thrown at them and in that confusion is where they stop and don’t want to go any further. Here they can choose what’s right for them and we help give them the tools to go from there. We debunk the myth that it can’t be done,” St James says, adding that the label of “sustainability” also can be a crutch they lean on too heavily, while it should be an element of their design.

GUILDED’s Work space in Manhattan.

Shahpar and St James are passionate about what they do. You can hear it in their voices and the pace at which they speak.  You realize by being there with them that this campaign isn’t just about donating, but supporting a business that is here to make an effective change, “not to just be a charitable cause.”

“Every bit of information you learn about this is life changing,” says Shahpar, “For everyone.”

To update, the goal is to raise $15,000 via IndieGoGo by August 6th to get everything off the ground. You can start by donating as little as $10, everything makes a difference and they’re a little more than halfway there so get on it. An Exclusive for EcoSalon readers who donate to GUILDED’S  campaign is one of Study New York’s Zipper Cuffs. Be one of the first 10 people to give and mention in their comment that they read the EcoSalon piece and get this hot zipper cuff in addition to whatever incentive is being offered for the amount you donate!!


Amy DuFault

Amy DuFault is a conscious lifestyle writer, consultant and fashion instigator. She resides in Cape Cod, Massachusetts.