Natasha Rufus Isaacs, Co-Founder, Beulah London
Interview by Laura Piety
A Rverie Conversation with Natasha Rufus Isaacs, co-founder of Beulah, a British luxury fashion label with an eye for both design and humanitarian needs.
If you haven’t already heard of Beulah this side of the Atlantic (America that is), please keep your eyes and ears open: because you will rather imminently. This luxe label, founded by Natasha Rufus Isaacs and Lavinia Brennan (pictured), has already cemented itself as a stalwart fixture on the London fashion scene and is now emerging in the States: just namecheck Jessica Alba wearing one of their beautiful Shibani scarves and you’ll get an idea of their growing popularity.
In addition to the Hollywood A-List, the Beulah clientele is peppered with English aristocracy, Tatler society loves, and perhaps most notably, the Middleton sisters (that’s right, they are quite literally royally adored by both Kate and Pippa). However, they’re not just another label vying for inches on glossy fashion pages. Their inherent and indispensable value actually comes in the Founders’ deep desire to change the face of social-luxury fashion by genuinely fighting for something more. Alongside designing classic and utterly covetous eveningwear, the brand’s key vision is to increase transparency in manufacture-supply chains, as well as provide sustainable livelihoods for victims who have come out of sex trafficking. Indeed, Beulah was started after Nats and Lavinia viewed the effects of this horrendous abuse at an aftercare home in a Delhi slum. More recently, they have worked on projects with the UN, won Business Leader awards and started the Beulah Trust.
Earlier this year I took a sojourn back to London from LA and caught up with the girls at their Knightsbridge showroom. We talked about the growing brand, their own style, as well as dovetailing the oft cavernous gap between social change, doing good and the fashion industry.
How have you found navigating both fashion and cause, and how do you see this intersection impacting the fashion industry at large?
Since our brand was founded with the aim of using fashion as a tool to raise funds and awareness for the fight against human trafficking, every aspect of our business plan has been driven by ethics.
We’ve found it extremely easy to combine our love for fashion with our love for social justice- we’ve never felt like we’ve had to sacrifice anything in order to have a transparent supply chain and only work alongside companies who share a similar brand ethos.
We are so pleased that more and more designers are using fashion as a tool to raise social awareness for causes they are passionate about. Hopefully all designers will begin to follow in the footsteps of Stella McCartney and Diane von Furstenberg who both use their labels as a platform to promote causes they are passionate about, even though their brands, unlike ours, weren’t founded with this explicit goal. We love the growing trend of luxury brands promoting both fashionable dressing and fashionable giving.
We were very lucky to receive an early commendation from the UN for our work using fashion as a way to raise awareness about the fight against human trafficking. It was a dream come true for a young brand like ours as it really gave us a sense of legitimacy.
Early on, we were also very fortunate to have some wonderful women in the public eye wear our dresses because they believed in the cause we were working for. This kind of exposure really helped open doors and get all important meetings with buyers etc.
Since we both have no formal fashion training the hardest point for us was literally figuring out the first step in how to make our abstract idea of starting a fashion line come into fruition. We just had no idea where to begin and what first steps we needed to make. As such, the best point has been seeing our dream become a reality.
From a design point of view, what is your favorite Beulah product?
We love the jumpsuit, which is edgy and so flattering, as well as the Painted Lady, you feel a million dollars in the dress.
From a cause point of view what is your favorite Beulah story?
The founding of Beulah is our favorite story. We hope it will inspire others to start their own projects to aid causes they are passionate about.
Beulah London was created in 2009 after we went on a life-changing trip to India to work at Atulya, an aftercare home in the Delhi slums. Having witness the harrowing effects of human trafficking and the sex trade, we felt moved to raise awareness about this important issue. With no previous training in fashion, we decided to launch an ethical fashion label with a transparent supply chain focused on timeless and effortless elegance.
Driven by twin passions for positive social change and designing beautiful fashions, Beulah London was born with the goal of providing a sustainable livelihood for those who have escaped the unimaginable horror of sex trafficking. We hope our story inspires others to think outside of the box to come up with ways to make positive changes in the world.
What are you hopes for Beulah in the future?
We are always looking for more ways to get women who have been trafficked directly involved in Beulah London. We are currently working on incorporating their handiwork into each and every Beulah garment. In addition to working with the victims of human trafficking in India, we would like to begin to work alongside women in England who have escaped the unimaginable horrors of being trafficked. We have set up our own charity called the Beulah Trust which we hope will help us with this goal. We are really looking forward to raising funds to help these women find a sustainable livelihood through fulfilling employment opportunities.
Our biggest business goal at the moment is to expand into the US market. As of now, Beulah is only available in the States via our website. In the near future we hope that you will begin to see Beulah in a variety of American boutiques and department stores.
What gets you both up in the morning? Do you have any indispensable items or practices?
Our charitable ethos motivates and helps gets us up in the morning, as well as a very strong cafe latte!
We live and breathe our laptops, and are constantly busy sending emails and meeting people, telling them about our vision. We try and stay positive at all times, despite things going wrong, and look for quick solutions! We've had to make so many important decisions, and it's so crucial for us to pray over each one and go with what we feel is right, and staying true to our initial vision is fundamental at all times!
For more information visit http://www.beulahlondon.com
Images courtesy of Beulah