Ethical Closet Series: Just Bee Queen
Just Bee Queen is an ethical resort wear brand based in Miami and a brand we are excited to have as a part of our Ethical Closet!
Maria and Sydney Strauss, the Cuban-American mother and daughter duo and founders of Just Bee Queen, set out to create an ethically produced, sourced, and sustainable high end resort brand that would appeal to women of both their generations.
Influenced by their Caribbean and Latin American backgrounds, they wanted to create the perfect ready-to-wear garments that would be a resort staple as well as a versatile streetwear collection. The mix of color, movement, and feminine appeal made their designs a year round sensation that could be worn with bathing suits and shirts, or sweaters and booties.
UP: Tells us about your brand, why did you start your label?
MS: I was semi-retired when my daughter Sydney and I started to play around with some interesting fabrics to make beach cover-ups, and so we set out to create a "better beach skirt" that would take you from the beach to the bar and everywhere in between. We wanted this skirt to be the first item you would pack when going on holiday, visiting a resort, or just going to the beach or poolside. We were also very aware of the rising concern for sustainability as well as the negative impact the fashion industry has had on our planet. We experimented with vintage one-of-a-kind African cloth as well as semi-automated loomed towels from Turkey. The famous Tulum Skirt was born and has been a huge success with world-wide sales. We turned an experiment into a successful business while staying sustainable and ethical.
UP: How do you choose your materials?
MS: After the initial success of the Turkish peshtemal fabrics, we needed to expand the selection to make Just Bee Queen a viable brand with sustainable and beautiful garments. Consequently, we had to look in other countries and looms to find ethically produced textiles to work with. We get much of our fabrics from the U.S., China, Turkey, and soon from Guatemala. We get as much information as possible as to where and under what conditions these textiles are produced. We have even visited the Turkish family looms located in their homes that supply our peshtemals.
UP: What country do you manufacture in?
MS: Everything is manufactured in the USA.
UP: Who makes your collections?
MS: We have a group of 12 independent artisans that work from their own homes allowing them to take care of their families while they stay employed. They are all highly trained and experienced workers.
UP: How do you assure they are paid fairly?
MS: We pay double or more of the minimum wage depending on their skill level and what they bring to the table.
UP: How often are you in contact with your artisans, factories, and seamstresses? Do you visit them?
MS: We communicate on a daily/weekly basis. I have 3 women who work in my studio in sample development every day. Either I or my head seamstress visits and checks their work, process, and progress weekly.
UP: How many collections do you make a year?
MS: Before the Covid-19 pandemic we were putting out 4 collections per year. However, moving forward it looks like we will only have 2 major ones and maybe a small interim one but nothing has been decided as of June 1st.
UP: Which one is your favorite piece in this collection?
MS: My most successful and thus my favorite is the Tulum skirt however, my new favorite is the just-released Tulum Dress.
UP: What advice do you have to create an ethical closet?
MS: Invest in seasonless pieces that will take you to many places, not just one event. Pieces that can be updated and worn layered and for multiple occasions. The key is to buy better quality versatile pieces from brands that have committed to making a difference. We are starting to make progress and get some traction because it all starts with the designer but we need the support from the consumer to be able to continue to provide a better living for our workers, ourselves, and be kinder to our planet.