It’s all about people and the planet for Walleska Tepping. A native of Brazil and current resident of Dallas’ hot Deep Ellum neighborhood, this socially- and environmentally-conscious entrepreneur is transforming the world one design at a time.
It all started in 2007 when Tepping (pictured above) launched Walleska Ecochicc, a sustainable fashion brand utilizing recycled and re-purposed materials. She employs 30-plus artisan women to create the company’s gorgeous line of handbags and apparel. From soda can pull tabs to tire inner tubes to vegetable ivory made from Brazilian seeds, the base materials for all of Walleska Ecochicc’s wearables are largely organic, natural, or recycled.
In late 2010, Tepping opened an earth-friendly boutique in Uptown’s West Village shopping center, stocked with original designs, as well as additional socially-conscious brands. But nearly six months later, it was gone. We met up with Tepping to find out what she’s been up to in the past few years, and to learn more about her mission to create a kinder, more compassionate society.
DFW Style Daily: What first inspired you to launch Ecochicc? Were community and environmental sustainability always a part of the business plan and vision?
Walleska Tepping: “Ecochicc was born from a deep desire to transform lives, including my own. Being in the fashion industry just to serve the ego was not a lasting option, so I meditated often on being guided to change the world and to create something meaningful to me.
“I wanted a name that described the purpose of my new adventure, so the acronym Ecochicc was created to stand for ‘ecologically conscious organization celebrating honoring inspiring creative communities.’ Growing up in Brazil, recycling was a way of life. We did not waste a lot of things. There were not a lot of packaged goods, and, for example, glass bottles were always traded for full bottles of soda or beer. My mother had a motto that I try my best to follow: ‘Nothing wasted, just transformed.’”
We love Ecochicc’s commitment to creating a kinder, more compassionate world. Tell us more about your efforts to transform societies.
“The Ecochicc vision is not about the products we sell, but rather the communities we build through the process of creating sustainable products. We bring people together, and in doing so, we help uplift their consciousness to a world that is rapidly moving towards deterioration of our most precious resources.
“We also try to educate consumers through our social media channels by sharing news about what is happening all around us. Every decision we make affects us, and others around us. Knowing that fact, I’m always striving to do my best, to walk my talk, and learn quickly from my mistakes. In the end, to me it’s all about the planet and the people in our lives.”
Give us the scoop on your West Village store. Was closing shop a strategic business move?
“The West Village shop was meant to be a pop-up store for the holiday season, and we ended up being there for almost six months. It was a great way to bring the brand recognition in the heart of Dallas.
“Our business backbone is manufacturing and distributing to retailers that sell our products across the United States, as well as Canada, Australia, the Bahamas, and England. We decided to let our retailers do what they do best. We continue to have a website presence to offer our valued supporters a full outlet selection of our products online. Local supporters can also set up an appointment to visit our show room in Deep Ellum. At Ecochicc.com, business partners and fans can view our collections.”
How has Ecochicc evolved over the years, both philosophically and aesthetically?
“We are always evolving, but our philosophy has been the same from the very beginning. Since 2007, we have co-created products with a few diverse communities and independent artists in South America and North America. We are mostly known for our unique, recycled pop-top pull tab handbags, and apparel and accessories that are handmade from aluminum cans. Our new collections have expanded to use other recycled materials, such as inner tubes from car and truck tires, vegetable ivory, and natural biodegradable fibers. Our network has also expanded to include other partnerships with Brazil, Uruguay, Colombia, Mexico, and here in the United States.”
Tell us about a few of those new projects and partnerships.
“I’ve been busy developing new designs and prototypes to add to our inner tube collection, such as men’s wallets and belts, and laptop and iPod cases. I’m also working on my new partnerships with Colombia, developing a line made from native seeds and natural fibers, as well as keeping up with my Brazilian production.”
What are some of your favorite current designs?
“Right now, I’m really into my half moon clutch (pictured above) from the inner tube collection. It feels very comfortable, and it is the perfect size.”
Do you look to any designers or business leaders as role models? If so, who and why?
“I’m open to all role models that influence me in a positive way, from a child to a dog to a friend to a homeless person to the most touching speeches and quotes from the greatest people on our planet.”
Walleska Tepping headshots by Ethan Dussault; additional images by Marcus Lopez and Relayze Photography. For more information and to view the collections, visit Ecochicc.com.