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How This Sustainability Advocate Is Making Green The New Black

Stephanie Dickson shares how a rude awakening led her to exit the fashion industry and launch Green Is The New Black in Singapore to promote sustainable brands and lifestyles.

By SGN | 12 Oct 2022

Fresh out of college in 2011, Stephanie landed her dream job, planning and running the biggest fashion  events in Singapore and across the region: Men’s Fashion Week, Women’s Fashion Week, Asian Couture Week, Vietnam International Fashion Week, Perth Fashion Festival, and more. 

She relished the frenetic pace of work, the confluence of global talent, and the ability to be on the pulse of a creative industry. But four years later, its glamorous façade shattered when she watched The True Cost, a documentary that details the dark side of the fashion trade, showing how it exploits low-wage workers and inflicts severe damage on our planet. 

“I felt really blindsided,” she shares. “I realised it’s one of the most socially and environmentally corrupt industries in the world.” 

Shaken by these revelations, Stephanie quit her job and eventually launched the platform Green Is The New Black. In a nod to her fashion past, the name expresses her desire to make sustainability the next cool thing, as essential and ubiquitous as the little black dress in women’s wardrobes.

Spreading the word on sustainability

When she first ventured into the sustainability space, Stephanie’s friends were sceptical of the move and apathetic about the cause. “They thought I was becoming a hippie, leaving my cool job in fashion to try to save the world,” she recalls.

As she looked for ways to pursue a greener way of life, she began to discover that there were many ethical, responsible brands out there. Marrying her experience in events with her newfound passion for sustainability, she created The Conscious Festival, an annual affair that showcases these brands and runs workshops to encourage conscious consumption habits.

On top of this, Stephanie and her team went on to advise restaurants and hotels on how to green their operations and worked with large-scale events like Garden Beats Festival to eliminate single-use plastics, implement recycling, include plant-based menus, and achieve carbon neutrality.

When COVID hit, however, Green Is The New Black had to redirect their focus fully online – staging a virtual Conscious Festival and growing their website with more lifestyle content and deep dives into sustainability news.

Stephanie is a two-time TEDx presenter who has spoken on sustainability and conscious living.

Connecting with a global community

“Community is the backbone of everything that we do,” Stephanie says. “If it wasn’t for the partnerships and the alliances that we’ve made, and the brands that believe in us, we wouldn’t have got where we are today.” 

There is also a palpable sense of community at every gathering of The Conscious Festival. Over eight years, the event has hosted over 500 speakers and 25,000 attendees, and expanded to Hong Kong, London, and Paris – where the latest twelfth edition featured topics such as circular fashion, conscious eating, microplastic pollution, regenerative agriculture, and using Web3 for good.

“We want to bring as many people as we can into the sustainability conversation through this festival, where they come to learn, interact, and meet the people behind amazing brands,” Stephanie says.

For her lean team, planning these events for thousands of guests is no mean feat but, at the end of the day, it is a rewarding experience. “You hear of people whose eyes are opened to sustainability, people who become inspired to transform their family business,” she says. “These are the stories that keep us going and let us know our work is having an impact.”

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Sustaining hope in humanity

Studying and tracking the progress of sustainability can induce a fair amount of eco-anxiety, Stephanie admits. Last year, COP26 in Glasgow left her feeling jaded and disheartened at how sluggish countries and corporations are in moving the needle on climate issues.

While many factors are out of our control, she considers it vital to keep the faith in humanity’s resilience and the ever-increasing numbers of people waking up to the urgency of climate change. “The road to sustainability doesn’t have to be a perfect journey. What’s important is that we keep going,” she says.

At the World Economic Forum in Davos this past May, Stephanie was thoroughly invigorated by the people she met and their creative ideas such as Themaverse, a utopian jail game where you pay to atone for your carbon footprint while supporting regenerative farmers in real life. “There are some incredible humans using their time and their genius to make the world a better place,” she remarks.

Earlier in March, Stephanie co-founded UNTAM3D, a community for women and non-binary individuals to explore Web3 for impact. She firmly believes that, in this emerging digital realm, participants need to leverage sustainable practices and projects, and she hopes that the recent Ethereum Merge “will open up more conversations to spotlight and tackle the sustainability issue”.

Stephanie attended the World Economic Forum 2022 with Top Tier Impact, a global network of sustainability leaders and impact investors, and spoke on a panel discussing climate leadership.

Around the world and back to Singapore

Although she has lived around the globe, Singapore is where Stephanie has spent the most number of years. Born in Sydney to Scottish parents, she moved frequently as a child and cycled through 15 residential addresses by the age of 20.

Now, after an 18-month nomadic journey where she and her husband – who hails from Germany – spent more time with family and held their long-delayed wedding ceremony, the couple are settling back into Singapore, the place she is happy to call home and likely to start a family in.

In August, Stephanie and her husband Jan finally held their wedding ceremony, surrounded by loved ones, after a two-year delay due to the pandemic.
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Besides Singapore’s delicious food, conveniences of life, and sweaty jungle hikes, Stephanie most enjoys meeting people in the cosmopolitan city, having formed many close friendships and connected with communities in entrepreneurship, sustainability and Web3.

“I’ve been to a lot of different places, and I feel like Singapore is very welcoming,” she says. “There’s a really lovely energy here. It’s also been an amazing place to start a business and be an entrepreneur.”

On the sustainability front, Stephanie says it’s inspiring to see how far things have come, with the rise of clothes swap stores, vegan restaurants, sustainability-related talks and events, and Singapore’s heavy emphasis on green buildings. 

“Sustainability awareness has risen dramatically here,” she says. “It’s incredible to see the progress and the positivity around this. And it’s not stopping. It’s just going to keep growing.”

About Stephanie

Stephanie is a sustainability advocate and the founder of Green Is The New Black, a media and events platform that promotes sustainable brands and conscious living. She is also a founding member of UNTAM3D, an APAC community for women+ exploring Web3 for impact.

Connect with her here.

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