Small business owners have felt the direct consequences of the current pandemic. People are encouraged to help keep micro-businesses afloat by doing their holiday shopping at local stores. If you find yourself wondering where to shop small this holiday season, a fellow Penn Stater spent her time during quarantine to start a small business with big dreams.
Penn State 2020 graduate and VALLEY alumna, Jordan Pietrafitta, decided to merge her honors thesis and passion for the environment with her love for fashion. It was post-graduation and boredom during lockdown when EARTHLY for the Planet was born.
Earning a dual degree in English and advertising, Pietrafitta was tasked with creating an honor’s thesis to graduate from Schreyer Honors College. During her time in BISCI03 and being a Teaching Assistant, she knew that she wanted to involve sustainability somehow. Pietraffita noticed the lack of inclusivity and diversity in sustainable fashion and thought that she could create a campaign for a brand that is sustainable but also accessible to people of all socioeconomic backgrounds. EARTHLY began as an idea and shifted into a small business run solely by Pietrafitta.
The brand was inspired by nature itself. The colors of muted yellows and greens coincide with Pietrafitta’s interests and the sustainability of the brand. “My favorite color is yellow,” said Pietrafitta.
“EARTHLY’s mission is to be a diverse, inclusive, sustainable fashion brand meant to be accesible to all people’s socioeconomic status.”Jordan Pietrafitta
As for the name, it is fitting with the goal of her company. “I wanted something that combined nature and the Earth and ‘for the Planet’ relates to nature and it furthers the meaning of the company,” said Pietrafitta.
Pietrafitta uses second-hand clothing and materials to create unique pieces that benefit the environment. Pietrafitta accepts clothing donations and she turns them into trendy pieces for customers to purchase on her website. “A lot of people don’t know that donations that get sent to thrift stores get thrown out if they aren’t used,” said Pietrafitta. With the donations she receives, she will always figure out a way to turn them into beautiful clothing items for people to purchase. If you want to donate your clothes, you can direct message @earthlyfortheplanet on Instagram or you can email firstname.lastname@example.org to find out where to send your old clothes!
EARTHLY is bridging the gap between fashion and inclusivity. Pietrafitta photographs all models and selects them based on more than their looks. “I strive for inclusivity and diversity in every aspect of my brand,” said Pietrafitta. “The easy and obvious way for customers to see this is through my models and what they stand for.”
“I never wanted to create a brand that participated in performance activism,” said Pietrafitta. Each EARTHLY sale takes a portion of the profits and donates that to an environmental charity or social issue organization. Some organizations that EARTHLY has donated to are the Lebanese Red Cross, Black Lives Matter, environmental causes and international relief funds. These efforts combined with her models and values are all in an effort to make sustainability accessible and represent people of all backgrounds and identities.
Pietraffita not only uses diverse and authentic models, but she likes their natural features and beauty to shine through the photos. Being a photographer for six years, Pietrafitta says that she has never liked retouching photos and, “doesn’t understand why photographers edit photos until people don’t look like themselves.” None of the models on the Instagram or website are photoshopped and Pietrafitta plans to keep it that way.
Aside from owning and photographing for EARTHLY, Pietrafitta operates every other aspect of the company. She makes the clothes, runs the website and social media, plans each launch, hand-stamps and hand-sews all the tags onto clothing and ships all the orders. She has even made her shipping process sustainable by using newspaper and old tissue paper to wrap items, as well as recycled stickers and tape to keep everything together. All items are sent out in 100% recycled poly mailers. It’s a one-woman show, but for Pietrafitta, nothing is too much work when it comes to benefiting the planet, the environment and including everyone in the meantime.
Looking toward the future, Pietrafitta wants to grow and expand. One day she wants EARTHLY for the Planet to become a big company with employees while continuing to hold her environmental and personal values of inclusivity. But for the near future, Pietrafitta has decided to take a break from launches for the holidays and plans to accept more custom orders and maybe restock past items. “Now that people have seen a lot of what I can do and have, they can begin to custom order based on what I have available,” said Pietrafitta. Custom orders can be placed via DMs on EARTHLY’s Instagram.