Yvette Rashawn Estime Dirty Celebrity
Yvette Rashawn Estime, founder of Dirty Celebrity. (Credit: Courtesy of Dirty Celebrity)

When Yvette Rashawn Estime was laid off from her corporate job, she decided to follow a dream she had long shared with her twin sister: Starting a fashion line. She launched Dirty Celebrity in December 2019 – only for Covid to hit a few months later. As the world slowed down, and Estime mulled over her new venture, she began thinking about climate change, and the fashion industry’s contributions to it. Then, she started to rethink Dirty Celebrity as an accessories line that puts the Earth first. Today, the Jersey City, New Jersey, entrepreneur’s company adheres to its zero-waste ethos by using deadstock e-commerce materials that are no longer sellable, and turning them into fun new bags, jewelry, hats and scarves. 

Here’s our lightly edited Q&A, from The Story Exchange 1,000+ Stories Project.

How is your business different from others in your industry?

Greenwashing – making misleading statements about a brand’s sustainability or eco-consciousness – is a big problem in the fashion industry. We combat this with transparency, and by using sustainable materials. We are also the first sustainable accessories line that focuses on kitschy designs, rather than bohemian ones, which is where most sustainable brands usually take their inspiration.

Tell us about your biggest success so far. 

We won a grant from the Council of Fashion Designers of America (VFDA) for our sustainable fashion line. 

What is your top challenge and how have you addressed it?

Sustainability is easy on a smaller scale but as we get bigger, it gets harder. Right now we are focusing on how we can scale our business while also making sure we don’t leave sustainability behind. 

Have you experienced any significant personal situations which have affected your business decisions? 

My partner and sister both caught Covid the same month that we launched our brand, and were both hospitalized. My sister was already wheelchair-dependent – now, she relies on oxygen as well. That was really hard. And personally, I have autism, so sometimes I struggle with emotional understanding. 

What is your biggest tip for other startup entrepreneurs? 

Photography is very important in telling your story. Make sure you have great photos for social media, editorials, ads, etc. 

How do you find inspiration on your darkest days?

By remembering that I want to make a difference in the world, and be an example to an industry that still thinks sustainability is a form of marketing.

What is your go-to song to get motivated on tough days? 

“Ride” by Incubus.

Who is your most important role model?

Fashion designer Vivienne Westwood, because she was the only designer that understood fashion’s effect on climate change and took steps towards making a difference. ◼

Instagram: @dirtycelebrity
Facebook: @dirtycelebrity

Check out our Advice + Tips for entrepreneurs starting-up
Watch our latest
Subscribe to our podcast