A few fun facts: I was born in Indiana, grew up in coastal Florida, and lived in Charlottesville, Virginia during my 20s. I have a younger sister who is a fine art photographer. I love dill pickles and ballet documentaries. My husband and I have watched Frasier a dozen times. We’re big foodies, so we love the Houston food scene.
Hello, I’m Leah.
I’m a writer, blogger, choral singer, and priest in the Episcopal Church. In 2022, I – along with my husband, our two cats, and my mother-in-law – relocated from New Haven, CT to Houston, TX so that I could begin a new church position. I use she/her/hers pronouns.
I founded StyleWise in 2013 in an effort to build community support and foster education around supply chain ethics and conscious consumerism. Now, I am focused on exploring an integrated approach to ethics that honors all people in the supply chain, from farmer to factory employee to consumer. My work as a minister is rooted in the belief that hyper-local community care is where transformation happens.
In 2020, I decided to begin practicing a “slow fashion” philosophy. This means that I will purchase conventionally-made products when they are a better option for my body, my wardrobe, and my lifestyle than more sustainable options. My personal style posts include a range of brands, but my shopping guides still adhere to a more rigorous standard. You can learn more about this change here.
In 2022, I hired my husband, Daniel Wise, on as a staff writer. Daniel has a Ph.D. in Religious Studies and particular expertise in American spirituality, new religious movements, and modern day enchantment. He writes industry explainers for StyleWise and niche Religion pieces on his blog, Haunted Nation.
How It All Began
I first started thinking about the ethics of what we consume more than a decade ago while working at a craft store that sold cheap, sweatshop goods marketed as “artisan made” without fair prices to match. The disparity between the workmanship of these goods and the $3.99 price tag made me question the system behind it. Honestly, I had never thought about the makers before that experience.
I think many of us in Western countries grow up thinking that production is automated, made by robots in clean, state-of-the-art factories. After all, this is the 21st century. But the reality is that human production is often still the most precise, highest quality, and cheapest form of labor. Exploitation in the garment industry is just one nefarious symptom of a troubled world, but it is an important one because we are encouraged to consume at such a breakneck pace that we can’t help but be complicit.
As I uncovered the stories of artisans and makers on StyleWise, I began to take an interest in environmental sustainability and responsible business practices, because these things are inextricably linked. Additionally, my experience operating a small thrift shop in Charlottesville, Virginia for five years gave me further insight into our massive overconsumption problem while also providing an incredible education in textiles and garment quality.
What You’ll Find
Now I seek to provide thorough, nuanced, and accessible resources, articles, and reviews that work through the complexity of garment and goods production systems. I believe that small steps matter, but I also believe very strongly that we must build strong, sustainable coalitions that lobby for better regulations while working to imagine and create a narrative of hope. You can’t merely buy your way to a better world, but like all good habits, committing to doing the best thing you can within your means and circumstances is a catalyst for change and an example to others.
In addition to blogging, I write, speak, and consult on ethical fashion, digital marketing, theology, and the thrift economy with bylines in Christianity Today, Relevant Magazine, Mind Body Green, and Elephant Journal. You can hear me chat about ethical fashion and thrifting on Reframe Your Life and the Green Dreamer podcast (links below).
Thanks for reading StyleWise! You’re welcome here.
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- Cup of Jo, A Week of Outfits: Leah Wise
- Yale School of the Environment, The Life(cycle) and Times of a YSE T-Shirt
- Yale Divinity School, YDS ‘Reimagining Church’ initiative helps congregations envision their next chapters
- SHIFT London, _shift talks podcast: The Ethics of Thrift Stores
- Business of Fashion, Beyond Disruption: Everlane’s Next Chapter
- Fashionista, It’s Time to Stop Looking to Brands to Save Us
- Green Dreamer Podcast, How To Thrift Shop Like a Pro and Support the Secondhand Economy to Grow ft. Leah Wise
- Reframe Your Life Podcast, Do you feel good about your clothing purchases? Interview with influencer Leah Wise
- Bustle, 17 Fair Trade Fashion Bloggers You Probably Didn’t Know Existed, But Totally Should
- Christian Examiner, Don’t support human rights violations with your Christmas gifts: 3 ways to shop ethically
- ORIGIN Magazine March 2017, Wellness Influencers
- Society B, The 8 Best Guides for Ethical & Sustainable Living
- Feedspot, Top 75 Sustainable Fashion Blogs
- Savvy Rest, Catching Up with Local Sustainable Fashion Blogger, Leah Wise
- AGAATI, 10 Ethical Fashion Bloggers
- Christianity Today, Dispatches from Charlottesville: What Happens When Neo-Nazis Are Outside Your Church Doors
- Christianity Today, Buy the Product, Not the Sob Story
- Relevant Magazine, The Cost of Spending Less
- Relevant Magazine, Why I Buy Secondhand
- Rachel Held Evans, “Strength and Dignity Are Her Clothing”: Making Ethical Fashion Choices