Hassan Pierre is a pioneer in the sustainable fashion space. The Parsons School of Design alum launched his label, Way It Should Be (WISB), an upcycled fashion line utilizing high-end vintage fabrics, before founding Maison De Mode, an e-commerce platform that specializes in luxury ethical clothing and wares. Pierre’s transition from fashion designer to CEO occurred after he met Amanda Hearst, who at that time was a fashion editor at Marie Claire who covered ethical fashion. The pair formed a professional and personal relationship because of their shared interest in marrying style with social and environmental good. They soon came up with the vision of starting an e-commerce platform that would be a one-stop shop for sustainable fashion for eco-conscious customers. Hence, Maison De Mode was born.
Additionally Pierre holds a position on the Board of Well Beings, an environmental and animal conservation NGO. He is also a member of the CFDA Fashion Awards Guild as well as heads Fashion Trust Arabia's Strategic Development Committee.
Below, the Haitian-American designer gives us insight into his journey as a co-founder of one of the industry's premiere sustainable fashion e-tailers.
EBONY: What brought about the creation of the brand?
Hassan Pierre: I initially began my career as a luxury, sustainable designer, and after having met my current business partner, Amanda Hearst, during a showroom visit in which she was going to do an article about me and my upcycled collection, we developed a professional and personal relationship quite quickly, which led us to both recognize that there was a gap in the retail landscape that allowed for sustainable designers to thrive.
How did you decide that sustainability was the direction you wanted to take your brand?
Sustainability has always been a personal passion of mine. After I left Parsons School of Design, I decided that I didn't want to just dive into a "traditional" fashion business; I wanted to incorporate ethics and sustainable practices into my business.
What hurdles have you faced?
The hurdles that I faced have been more around promoting this new concept of sustainable fashion as luxury, then being a Black-owned company. I've been fortune enough in this industry to really have been supported by what some call the "old guard," but no matter what connections you have, or how easy things might seem everybody is facing hurdles in their path. It's how you push through those hurdles that allow you to see the value of your success. When I first started my career "no" is a word I heard more often than not, if people were willing to even answer my email. Now some of those people who ignored my emails are constantly emailing me.
What are some words of advice to Black entrepreneurs out there looking to start a business?
Be both flexible and stable in your path to building your business. Be comfortable knowing that your original idea today could slightly vary and change in the future, and that can very much shape what the success of your company may be. The final piece of advice I would give is to always have fun in what you are working on. It's cliché, but true if you love what you do—you'll never "work" a day in your life.