We had the good fortune of connecting with Sharmon Lebby and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Sharmon, we’d love to hear more about how you thought about starting your own business?
When I started Blessed Designs, I wanted to create a line of ethical clothing that was more accessible and size inclusive. I wanted to inspire, educate, and help women to recognize their worth in the sustainable space.

Immersing myself into the sustainable/ethical community was eye opening. Being a Black woman I often felt left out of the conversation. Especially when so much of “sustainability” was stuff I grew up doing. We just didn’t give it a name. It was just a way of life. I was also appalled that at a size 8 I was topping size charts. And even then the clothing often didn’t fit when it arrived. It was difficult to understand the point of a movement that was meant to change the world that left out so many people.

Yet, even with the struggles I saw a need to be more intentional about the way I purchased my clothing. I met several people along the way and loved being a part of a community of change makers. The only issue is that it was mostly online with people that lived thousands of miles away, often in other countries. When Rachel Kelley & Evan Menendez started the Ethical Network of San Antonio I was in. This was an opportunity to connect to like minded individuals and create a local community of support.

Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I do a little bit of everything. Literally, everything. My background is in Biology and by day I am a Neuroscience Research Associate at UTSA. It’s work I enjoy but I’ve always been a service oriented person. I tell people its the way I fund my passions. I went to design school at Parsons New School of Design, but never finished because what I really wanted to do was style. While I had been doing bit and pieces (writing blogs, making videos) my big opportunity came when I started working with Revolution Thrift. There I had the opportunity to serve as Creative Director which involved styling mannequins, store displays, and even styling and directing photo shoots. It also gave me the opportunity to style for Ethical Style Journal (now ESJ). But throughout all of that I was managing websites, starting Facebook pages. I was a social media marketing director before I even knew it was a thing. And that was something I had never gone to school for, it was just something I fell in to. But I say all of that to say that all of these skills came to together to allow me to do what I do now. Providing resources for businesses and individuals that are looking to support sustainable and ethical business practices. ENSA is that hub, that resources, and my experience in so many areas and knowing so many different people gives me the unique ability to provide that service.

The Ethical Network of San Antonio is about community. We’re a place for businesses to find other businesses to connect with and for individuals to find local places to shop ethically and sustainably. We believe small businesses are the backbone of the community and we want to make sure they are able to grow and thrive. That means having a supportive and engaged community surrounding them giving then the resources they need and advocating for them.

Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
In all honesty I’m not big on itineraries and just go with the flow. But, I love to show off the businesses in our network so it would probably be a bit of a tour that highlighted them. That means a trip to all of the amazing farmers and popup markets the city has to offer. We’d hit up Huebner Oaks where Pure Aloha Bath and Beauty normally sets up shop and to the Bandera Pointe Market where we’ll find Manna Reign Chocolates. Of course, that only covers the weekend. On a Thursday or Friday we’d hit up Revolution Thrift. I love thrift stores and Rev T is one of my favorites. At some point we’d have to eat. I’m not a huge food person but I love the vegan Nachos at Greens and the shakes at Earth Burger. And because no sustainably minded person is perfect we are definitely hitting up Lolli and Pops at La Cantera.

I don’t think any trip to San Antonio is complete without a trip to the Riverwalk and a walk Downtown. I don’t have any favorite spots downtown, I mostly just love to be there amongst the hustle and bustle and watch the tourists. A quick stop at The Shops at Broadway for some favorite sites of some of my favorite ladies that own the cutest shops their Red Cat Co, La Casa Frida, and Grey Moon Vintage. My favorite spot though is the Pearl. Lick Honest Ice Cream is a must try and since we’re on an ice cream kick might as well hit up Boozy’s on Alamo. No idea how we’d manage all this, but I’m a dreamer and it’s going to happen. We’re definitely passing out on the couch with some take out from Thai Topaz. We’re going to need all this food while we’re canvasing the city!

Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
There are so many people that have helped me along this journey, it’s difficult to point out just one.

This almost feels like an award speech for the Oscars… I’d like to thank Burgundy Woods at Style Lush TV who has been great at pushing the Ethical Network of San Antonio into the forefront of the sustainability conversation in San Antonio and Texas as a whole. She’s been a great source of information from the moment we decided to incorporate as an organization. I want to thank the ENSA team. Each brings their own unique talents, gifts, and ideas to the mix. I want to thank my parents and my sister who consistently support me in everything I do and are always their to pick up the phone and let me rant or cry. But mostly I’ll thank God. Everything I needed, every bit of encouragement always came along at the perfect time. It was never just one person or group. There are days when I just want to throw in the towel but I’m grateful for the strength that gets renewed every morning.

Website: ethicalnetworksa.org

Instagram: instagram.com/ethicalnetworksa

Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/company/ethicalnetworksa

Twitter: twitter.com/ethicalsatx

Facebook: facebook.com/ethicalnetworksa

Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCyZcS5h_r_fGvfewN8foXJA

Image Credits
Images via EthicalNetworkSA.org

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