Amanda Hearst, the philanthropist and heiress to the Hearst Corporation, was an associate fashion editor at Marie Claire when she found herself writing only about sustainable fashion at a time where those two words never seemed to be used together. Amanda was fascinated by the stories and the impact that fashion brands have on communities, wildlife, and the environment. Amanda is a firm believer in the universal symbiotic relationship between people, animals, and the environment. She founded Maison de Mode, a sustainable fashion e-commerce platform and Well Beings because of her ambitious passion for doing good and delivering positive impact. Well Beings is a global philanthropic organization that unites animal welfare and environmental protection, from stopping wildfires in the Bolivian Amazon to helping animal-assisted therapy programs for American veterans.
Raised by an animal-loving mother, Amanda grew up surrounded by rescued animals in their Manhattan apartment (something rarely seen in the city!) and during the weekends, in the country amidst wildlife. So naturally, her childhood nurtured her intrinsic love for animals, people, and the planet.
In 2015, Amanda Hearst met her business partner, Hassan Pierre, who shared her passion. Together, they co-founded Maison de Mode with the mission to make sustainability the future of fashion. Maison de Mode is a two-pronged platform business with a Maison-de-Mode.com marketplace, a curated shopping destination, and Mode///Communications, the company’s consulting and communications arm.
In 2018, online luxury fashion retail expert Carmen Busquets, co-founder of Net-a-Porter and investor at Moda Operandi and Farfetch, joined as a partner, further cementing Maison de Mode’s status as a significant force in the online retail space.
“Our mission is to further the sustainable fashion movement by supporting brands that are doing good and by encouraging brands who want to do better.” – AH.
Angela Chan: How did your childhood influence your current passion for animals and the planet? Are there any particular memories you have that strengthened this connection?
Amanda Hearst: In some ways, it’s kind of ironic that I feel so connected to animals and nature because I grew up in Manhattan – the opposite of a natural environment! But my mother is a huge animal lover, so we always had rescue animals in our apartment, and she would always take us to the country on the weekends. I remember one time, one of our cats caught a baby bird that had fallen out of its nest. Our cat brought it to us, and the bird was so mangled – my mom was trying to tell me that it probably wouldn’t survive. I remember caring for it and praying as hard as I could that it would survive. And it did. Against all odds, the little bird survived, and we freed it! For me, that was a moment when I realized how much I wanted to protect animals.
Chan: Is there any particular moment that made you decide to dedicate your personal and professional life to sustainability and social welfare?
Hearst: There was never a moment where I said, “Ah, this is what I want to do with my life!” I’m actually jealous of those people who know what they want to do since they are young. For me, I graduated college and was like, “I have absolutely no idea what I want to do!” So, I just started asking myself questions. What makes me happy? What are my interests? Whom do I admire? I’ll spare you the answers, but basically, I knew I wanted to have a job with some IMPACT. So, I started in fashion because that’s what I knew and loved, but I wrote about sustainable fashion because I felt that there were people and communities and stories behind each brand that weren’t being told.
Chan: When it comes to animals, planets, and people, what is your greatest goal in life? Is there anything, in particular, you hope to accomplish?
Hearst: My goal has always just been to do something. I don’t need to be the greatest philanthropist or the most successful retailer – in fact, those kinds of goals stress me out. As long as I do something every day – big or small – intending to make the world a little bit better, then I feel like I’m doing a good job.
Chan: What are some of your most significant personal accomplishments or the proudest things you have done within this space?
Hearst: Going on puppy mill raids with the police, traveling to Guatemala to paint community homes, flying to the Bolivian Amazon to help animals harmed by the forest fires there. I’m proud of all the times I’ve been on the grounds, and I hope to have more experiences like these.
All those experiences led me to found my charity: WELL/BEINGS, along with my dear friend Breanna Schultz (daughter-in-law of Howard Schultz, chairman of Starbucks). We created a reimagined non-profit that works at the intersection between animal welfare and climate change. Our campaign focus shifts each year but always funds dynamic programs at the interconnection between the health of animals, people, and the planet. It’s humbling and a privilege to be one of the very few non-profits to do this. (For more information, visit www.wellbeingscharity.org)
Chan: You have been working in this space for decades. Do you see people moving into a more sustainable world in all aspects, or do you think our modern ways to transport, shop, travel, eat, etc., push us further from a sustainable world?
Hearst: I think the interest in sustainability has grown exponentially in the last ten years. And that has been an amazing thing to witness! But of course, our levels of consumption and waste have also increased. Ultimately, most people want to live more responsibly, so it boils down to the companies (travel, fashion, tech) to respond to their customers.
Chan: What are some of the most significant accomplishments Well Beings has had so far?
Hearst: Well Beings has granted approximately $500,000 to our charity partners – a huge accomplishment for a start-up charity that launched a year before a global pandemic. Last year, we supported an animal sanctuary in Bolivia suffering in quarantine and on the edge of raging fires in the Amazon. My co-founder Breanna Schultz and I visited the shelter, so it was especially poignant that our support helped them take care of the 800 animals they house. I also host an IG Live that features diverse speakers diving deep into various aspects of sustainable lifestyles and the interconnection between animals, people, and the planet.
Chan: Can you share more details about this year’s trip to Puerto Rico?
Hearst: We are so excited to be partnering with The Ocean Foundation to fund a mangrove restoration project on the island of Vieques. Recent hurricanes nearly destroyed the famous bioluminescent bay there – a natural wonder that draws and impacts the tourism economy. Without the mangroves, the bay will lose its luminance – our support will restore these precious ecosystems while also securing the local economy. We’re also supporting youth empowerment programs to ensure the next generation has the tools to steward environmental protection and creating pathways to sustainable livelihoods. For example, we collaborated with HEART, a humane education program where they help students develop and cultivate kindness, empathy, and compassion towards people, animals, and the planet. The program informs the next generation with better knowledge of social responsibility.
Chan: If you could go back in time, what career or life advice would you give yourself?
Hearst: It’s ok not to know what you want to do. What you want to do will find you.
Chan: What’s next for you?
Hearst: To be even more impactful on sustainability and make changes in the fashion industry, we need to collaborate with companies with a more extensive reach. We recently partnered with Lacoste on a 360 sustainability strategy launch. It is just the beginning of the change in the fashion industry. There will be more considerable changes coming, with more prominent brands.