Chicago Entrepreneur Creates Eco-Friendly Lingerie

Feeling like Earth Week went by too fast? Maybe it's time to turn the annual homage into an everyday business.

Five years ago, Lizzie Cook did just that and Urban Fox was born. Cook, a Chicago-based costume designer, describes the business as a "US-made, eco-friendly lingerie company that creates bras, camis, undies, and stockings out of the finest fabrics available."

She and her business partner strive to fill a void. "The aesthetic people were supplying [in the eco-lingerie market] up until we started was extremely natural and utilitarian-looking as a whole, and we knew we could offer people something more ravishing."

Urban Fox, an online-only store for now, has built a loyal female customer base, but men shop the Fox, too. "We get lots of men and women buying gifts for their loved-ones… people are attracted to the idea of eco-lingerie, and the look of unique design."

There are major retailers out there, especially here in Chicago, that tout "eco-chic," but Cook warns against these potentially green-washed labels: "Don't just trust that because something is bamboo, rayon, or organic cotton, that it's been produced as ethically and sustainably as possible. Do your research to back up those green claims."

According to Cook, Urban Fox is green not just through the materials used, but also the processes and human resources that make the product come to life. "Our fabrics are almost entirely certified organic, and pass strict occupational safety and health codes. We purchase from USA mills whenever a product is available, and USA suppliers when the actual fabric is made overseas."

Cook is also mindful of waste that comes as a result of creating apparel. "We small-batch dye our products using low-impact (non-harmful) dyes and we are starting to use more remnants, which are fabrics that would otherwise go to a landfill."

The business went through an identity crisis when it launched, Cook added. "Should we be among other lingerie designers? Or would we do better mixed in with other eco-friendly designers? We had a tough time figuring out what environment we would thrive in."

The solution? Be transparent and tell the world exactly what Urban Fox is: "We've found it best to provide eco-friendly lingerie lovers with lots of information on our website, covering lingerie design and eco-savviness in one fell swoop."

Elliott Beazley is a graphic designer/web developer from Atlanta, Georgia who goes by the alias "ebeaz." A former NBC intern, he now works at Ogilvy & Mather. If there's time, he also takes on freelance marketing and design projects. Elliott is a graduate of the School of Art Institute of Chicago's visual communication program, where he was also an art director for the school newspaper, F Newsmagazine. In first grade, when asked to write down what he wanted to be when he grew up, he wrote "deziner."

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