VENTURA, Calif. — Hand-sewn, sustainable clothing is the motto for small retail business Beechwood Crew.
Launched amid the pandemic by childhood friends Elizabeth Melgoza and Emi Pool, the company specializes in coordinated outfits for families.
"We had the downtime in the pandemic, and we started working on it, not really sure where it was going to go, and it ended up taking off," Melgoza said.
Before the pandemic, Melgoza worked long days in a public relations agency, and Pool worked in retail.
As a new mom, Melgoza realized how much she cherished time at home with her son during the lockdown.
She left her job and began freelancing while also embarking on this new business with Pool.
"I really don't think Beechwood Crew would've happened if we hadn't had this kind of reset with the pandemic. Because it was kind of a step back to look at your priorities and where you're putting your time and gave us the chance to think about what do we really want to be working on?" Melgoza said.
The pandemic taught them both the importance of living consciously, as well as making their business eco-conscious.
"I don't make the clothing until it's purchased so it can be customizable, as well as we're not making things that we can't sell, or it's only things that people want," Pool said.
Meanwhile, Bianca and Michael Alexander have been creating a show called "Conscious Living," where they travel the world showing how people can live mindfully in all aspects of their lives.
"There's really an opportunity at every moment to say, is the choice I'm making, whether it's buying an $8 T-shirt at a big box store, what is the impact of that?" Michael Alexander said.
While their show explains how people's choices directly impact the planet, Bianca said the pandemic has provided a time for each person to ask what really matters.
"I think people are moving and living in different places, changing careers, and some people have changed relationships. It's forced us to reconfigure our lives in a way that's actually going to work better for everyone," Bianca said.
This type of life reassessment can be seen in the number of people quitting their jobs, which the Bureau of Labor Statistics says accounts for 69% of total separations in June alone.
It's a pandemic trend that the Beechwood Crew founders are part of.
"Now that I'm freelancing, I'm still doing what I love with PR, but also able to pursue this really exciting business with one of my best friends from childhood," Melgoza said.