Whether you are a yoga enthusiast, loungewear enthusiast, or general comfy clothes enthusiast, Miakoda (pronounced ME-A-CO-DA) is the eco-friendly, sustainable, and ethically-made clothing company that will deliver. Miakoda stands for ‘power of the moon’, “and we just love that because the moon unites and connects us all. We all live under one moon,” explains Julia Ahrens, co-owner and designer at Miakoda. Laura Ahrens, Julia’s sister, is the other co-owner and inspirationalist. (They also have a mascot named Pigeon—pronounced Pee-Jaun—and we think he deserves some recognition too.)
Julia has her BFA in Fashion Design from Parsons School of Design. “Towards the end of my time [at Parsons], I started practicing yoga and I went vegan, and I realized how detrimental the fashion industry is to the planet,” she says. Julia notes that the materials that were being used were really unnatural, and she also didn’t want to work with any animal fibers. So, she looked into more sustainable fashion brands, and learned about organic and plant-based fabric. Julia also learned about the ethics behind fashion. When small brands that she wanted to work for weren’t hiring, and she didn’t want to work for “one of [those] fast fashion brands that [were] ruining the planet,” her family encouraged her to start her own company. And so, Miakoda was born.
Something that’s very admirable about Miakoda is that every aspect of their brand exemplifies what they stand for. Miakoda exclusively uses plant-based materials, with small percentages of spandex for comfort. They never utilize animal fibers or synthetic materials (e.g. polyester, acrylic, etc.), and the products are all made in New York! Julia tells us, “I decided to do all of my production in New York so I can monitor the factory, and make sure that everything [is] ethical.” All of their packing materials are 100% recycled, and they even make it a point to reuse their fabric scraps as a part of their Zero Waste initiatives. Whether Julia uses the scraps for beanie hats, scrunchies, face masks, or even just donates them to other companies, she estimates that she’s diverted at least 50% of their scraps away from landfills by repurposing them. Rest assured that when you support Miakoda, you’re not harming the planet.
Because Julia has been in the sustainable lifestyle game for some time, she has insightful advice for the newbies: “First, start with what you have. Always the most sustainable option is one that’s already in your wardrobe, or something that’s already in your home,” she begins. “For example, for fashion, let’s say you have a whole wardrobe of fast fashion brands. It’s not beneficial to throw out all of that and shop with small, ethical brands. It’s better to use [the wardrobe you have] until it can’t be worn anymore, donate it, recycle it, and then replace [it]—slowly but surely—with small, sustainable, ethical brands.” So, don’t beat yourself up over that Forever 21 dress you bought in 2017 that still looks fabulous! Rock that LBD until you can’t, then donate the dress or repurpose the fabric. After that, replace it with a slow fashion version. Julia stresses, “If you just throw everything out, it’s just causing more waste, more stuff going to landfills, and it’s just not economical for the planet or for your wallet.”
And, there’s more advice where that came from. Emerging business owners should, “Always do your best. There’s so many things that you learn about along the way. Just be gentle with yourself, because you’re on this path and you can only do the best you can do with the knowledge that you have,” encourages Julia. “And be open to learning, because the more you learn, the more you can be more sustainable, more ethical, and really align with your morals and values, and build a business that really feels true and good to you.”
One of Julia’s biggest influences is her sister, co-owner Laura, because of her passion for true sustainability and ethics. She’s additionally influenced by her community. “Especially on Instagram, people are always calling me out, asking me questions, and saying things to me that get me thinking. I think your community holds you responsible for what you say you’re doing.” She attributes Miakoda growing and staying on path to her finding her community online, and connecting with influencers on social media who feel strongly about the company’s message and want to promote it.
Julia’s favorite piece from Miakoda is The Classic Brami, a bralette-camisole hybrid. “I just think it’s such a versatile piece, and it’s so comfortable that literally sometimes I put it on to wear all day and just fall asleep in it,” she confesses. When she was in fashion school she promised, “When I make clothing, I’m never going to make something that someone can’t wait to change out of.” As a result, “Comfort’s, like, everything with Miakoda.” Well, we can certainly hop on board with that! Who doesn’t like comfortable clothes? Also, head’s up: Julia is bringing back her other fave piece, Slouchy Pants, September 5th, and they definitely look Netflix marathon worthy.