Amanda Hearst, the philanthropist and heir to Hearst Corporation, was Associate Fashion Editor at Marie Claire when she was only writing about sustainable fashion at a time when those two words seemed never to be used together. Amanda was intrigued by the stories and the impact fashion brands have on communities, wildlife and the environment. Amanda firmly believes in the universal symbiotic relationship between humans, animals and the environment. She founded Maison de Mode, a sustainable fashion e-commerce platform, and Well Beings because of her ambitious passion for doing good and making positive impact. Well Beings is a global philanthropic organization that unites animal welfare and environmental protection, from fighting forest fires in the Bolivian Amazon to supporting animal-assisted therapy programs for American veterans.
Raised by an animal-loving mother, Amanda grew up surrounded by rescued animals in her Manhattan apartment (which is seldom seen in the city!) And on weekends in the country surrounded by wildlife. So, of course, her childhood nurtured her intrinsic love for animals, people, and the planet.
In 2015, Amanda Hearst met her business partner Hassan Pierre, who shared her passion. Together they founded Maison de Mode with the mission to make sustainability the future of fashion. Maison de Mode is a two-pronged platform business with the Maison-de-Mode.com marketplace, a curated shopping destination, and Mode /// Communications, the company’s consulting and communications arm.
In 2018, Carmen Busquets, expert in online luxury fashion retail, co-founder of Net-a-Porter and investor in Moda Operandi and Farfetch, joined as a partner, cementing Maison de Mode’s status as a major force in the online retail space.
“Our mission is to promote the sustainable fashion movement by supporting brands that do good and encouraging brands that want to do better.” – AH.
Angela Chan: How did your childhood influence your current passion for animals and the planet? Are there any special memories that strengthened this connection?
Amanda Hest: In a way, it’s kind of ironic that I feel so connected to animals and nature because I grew up in Manhattan – the opposite of a natural environment! But my mother is a big animal lover, so we always had rescue animals in our apartment and she always brought us to the country on weekends. I remember that one of our cats once caught a baby bird that had fallen out of its nest. Our cat brought it to us and the bird was so mutilated – my mom wanted to tell me that it probably wouldn’t survive. I remember taking care of him and praying as hard as possible that he would survive. And it did. Against all odds, the little bird survived and we set him free! For me it was a moment when I realized how much I want to protect animals.
Chan: Was there a special moment that made you dedicate your personal and professional life to sustainability and social well-being?
Heart: There was never a moment when I said, “Ah, this is what I want to do with my life!” I’m really jealous of the people who have known what they want to do since they were young. For me, I graduated from college and thought, “I have absolutely no idea what I want to do!” So I started asking myself questions. What makes me happy? What are my interests? Who do I admire? I’ll spare you the answers, but basically I knew I wanted a job with something IMPACT. So I started fashion because I knew and loved it, but I wrote about sustainable fashion because I felt that behind every brand there were people, communities and stories that weren’t told.
Chan: What is your biggest goal in life when it comes to animals, planets and people? Is there something special that you want to achieve?
Heart: My goal has always been to do nothing something. I don’t have to be the greatest philanthropist or the most successful retailer – those kinds of goals actually stress me out. As long as I do something every day – big or small – to make the world a little better, then I feel like I’m doing a good job.
Chan: What are some of your most important personal accomplishments or the proudest things you have done in this field?
Heart: Participate with police in raids on the puppy factory, travel to Guatemala to paint community houses, fly to the Bolivian Amazon to help animals damaged by the forest fires there. I’m proud of all the times I’ve been to the site and hope to have more experiences like this one.
All of these experiences led me to found my charity, WELL / BEINGS, with my dear friend Breanna Schultz (daughter-in-law of Howard Schultz, chairman of Starbucks). We have created a newly designed non-profit organization that works at the interface between animal welfare and climate change. The focus of our campaign shifts every year but always funds dynamic programs that link animal, human and planet health. It is humbling and a privilege to be one of the very few nonprofits that do this. (More information can be found at www.wellbeingscharity.org)
Chan: You have been working in this field for decades. Do you see people moving towards a more sustainable world in every way, or do you think that our modern transportation, shopping, travel, food, etc. routes are taking us further away from a sustainable world?
Heart: I think interest in sustainability has grown exponentially over the past decade. And that was an amazing thing to experience! But of course our consumption and waste have also increased. Ultimately, most people want to live more responsibly, so it is important that companies (travel, fashion, technology) cater to their customers.
Chan: What are some of Well Beings’ key achievements to date?
Heart: Well Beings has donated approximately $ 500,000 to our charity partners – a tremendous achievement for a start-up charity that launched a year before a global pandemic. Last year we supported an animal shelter in Bolivia that is quarantined and on the verge of the fires in the Amazon. My co-founder Breanna Schultz and I visited the shelter, so it was particularly touching that our support helped them take care of the 800 animals they housed. I also host an IG Live with various speakers who delve deep into different aspects of a sustainable lifestyle and the connection between animals, people and the planet.
Chan: Can you share more details about this year’s trip to Puerto Rico?
Heart: We are very excited to be working with the Ocean Foundation to fund a mangrove restoration project on Vieques Island. Recent hurricanes have almost destroyed the famous bioluminescent bay there – a natural wonder that attracts and influences the tourism industry. Without the mangroves, the bay will lose its luminosity – our support will restore these valuable ecosystems while safeguarding the local economy. We also support youth empowerment programs to ensure the next generation has the tools to promote environmental protection and create pathways to sustainable livelihoods. For example, we partnered with HEART, a humane education program that helps students develop and cultivate kindness, empathy, and compassion for people, animals, and the planet. The program informs the next generation with better knowledge about social responsibility.
Chan: If you could turn back time, what kind of professional or life advice would you give yourself?
Heart: It’s okay not to know what to do. What you want to do, you will find.
Chan: What’s next for you
Heart: To have even more impact on sustainability and change the fashion industry, we need to work with companies with greater reach. We recently partnered with Lacoste to launch a 360 sustainability strategy. It’s just the beginning of change in the fashion industry. There will be even bigger changes, with more prominent brands.