The new fashion styling company Asteya is helping consumers shop less and get creative with the clothes in their wardrobe.
By Karleigh M. Stone
The fashion industry is the second largest polluter in the world, and it’s second only to oil.
Troy resident Melissa Leslie, 34, was shocked when she heard this statistic, and it motivated her to start her company, Asteya, last year.
Asteya is an styling company based in Metro Detroit. The name is a Sanskrit term that translates to “non-stealing,” but Leslie, founder and CEO, says it means so much more.
“It’s about not hoarding, not taking more than your share and thinking mindfully about how you use resources, both the Earth’s and your own,” she says. “There’s a whole environmental ethos to what we do.”
Leslie also thinks about the legacy she wants to leave for her children.
“The planet in its current state is problematic, and I want to contribute what I can to help make things better for my children and their children,” says Leslie, who has two kids. “I think we all need to pitch in, and the closet is one really easy way.”
Fashion designers, like Stella McCartney, are heading in the right direction by changing their production processes and using recycled materials. However, consumers are shopping more, and that’s what Asteya is working to change.
“We need to educate consumers and give them the tools to consume less, because only with reduced consumption will we find that balance we are striving for,” Leslie says.
The majority of the population wears only 28 to 40 percent of their closet, but is buying, on average, one new piece per week, Leslie says.
To consume less, Asteya stylists advise repurposing what you own, finding a great tailor and getting creative. They assist clients with all the above, beginning with a three-hour, in-home wardrobe consultation.
“Stylists can do so much with what you already have,” Leslie says. “We want to make new items more taboo than re-wearing something over and over.”
Asteya stylist Paulina Petkoski, 31, of Detroit, is a graduate of New York City’s Fashion Institute of Technology and the in Florence, Italy.
“We go through your closet and tighten it up to create as many options as we can with the items you want to keep. Then we edit out those you don’t so that when you get dressed it’s not a pain,” she says. “It’s amazing what you can accomplish in just a few hours when you have somebody giving you an additional perspective.”
Petkoski was eager to get involved with Asteya when Leslie approached her because, as a designer, she knows all too well the need for sustainability and to halt fast fashion.
“It’s never been more important because there’s such an over production of clothing globally, but there’s no reason for it,” she says.
In addition to the wardrobe consultation, Asteya offers personal shopping services. Stylists purchase key pieces from sustainable brands to minimize their client’s future shopping excursions. Instead of shopping, clients will be inspired to use what they have.
“After these appointments, there’s this halo effect of creativity,” Leslie says. “The stylist created 20 to 30 outfits for you, but after she leaves, you’ll start pairing things together in new and creative ways.”
A three-hour consultation is $350, and personal shopping is $75 per hour. Shorter, mini styling sessions are also available where you can pre-select hard-to-style items from your closet and get help from a stylist who will give you options on how to wear them. Consults can be booked online at asteya.co.
Asteya encourages shopping environmentally friendly brands such as Cuyana, Everlane, Patagonia and Reformation. Detroit-based brands, including Detroit Denim Co., Douglas & Co. and Lazlo, are also sustainable for locals because no transport pollution is involved, Leslie says.
Asteya was recommended to Vanessa Friedman, 37, of Beverly Hills, by a friend. She decided to try the service because she was stuck in a rut wearing the same outfits over and over again, while good pieces hung in her closet.
“After the consultation, I had an entire digital ‘lookbook’ with photos of each of the outfits created, notes from the appointment and recommendations for future shopping items,” Friedman says. “I literally felt like I’d doubled my wardrobe without even buying a single item.”
Knowing what to shop for can make a huge difference in cutting down consumption.
“Everyone has the power to choose where they spend their money, and it’s important to be educated,” Petkoski says. “Use your purchasing power to support ethically produced and sustainably-made products. If we do this, then companies have to change.”