Ethical fashion boutique Hazel & Rose asks, 'Who made my clothes?' at Fashion Week MN


Arcana Hazel & Rose, Athena Pelton

When Emma Olson heard about the Rana Plaza factory collapse, which killed over a thousand Bangladeshi garment workers in 2013, it was the instigator of a major life change. “It was a wakeup call,” she says.

She was working in corporate retail at the time. When she went into work the next day, most of her co-workers hadn’t even heard about the disaster. “It was our industry, and I thought it should be a bigger conversation,” she says. “I quit cold turkey.”

That major life decision led her to a new one: opening a clothing business of her own, Hazel & Rose LLC, in 2016. It’s a storefront and online business. Hazel & Rose specializes in ethical fashion, with designers that either make the clothes themselves or can be transparent about who is doing the sewing. They also use a lot of organic and recycled fabrics, which leave a quieter footprint on Earth.

“I want to encourage designers to be better,” she says. She thinks the problem with a lot of the fashion industry is that cheaper is the focus. “It was quantity over quality,” she says. “That wasn’t what I was comfortable with.”

Hazel & Rose’s fashions sometimes have a higher price point than your average retail shop. Olson says she works to get customers on board by telling the story behind the garments, and sending the message that when you spend a little bit more on high-quality garments, you end up saving money.

“I never push someone to buy something they don’t really love,” she says. “It’s okay to pay more because you absolutely love something so much.”

Since the store focuses on fashion that lasts, there’s less of an obsession about trends that will be here today and gone tomorrow. “I look for a lot of classic silhouettes,” she says.

This Thursday, Hazel & Rose is having an “interactive fashion show” as part of Fashion Revolution Week, which is part of an international movement to bring transparency to fashion. It’s also part of Spring Fashion Week Minnesota, which includes lots of fashion shows and events around the Twin Cities. The show will feature local and sustainable fashion, including items from Winsome Goods, House of Gina Marie, Hackwith Design House, Red Wing Heritage, and L. SHOFF jewelry.

Models will be wearing the designs and answering questions about who made their apparel. “We’re really trying to encourage transparency in the industry,” she says.

In all there’ll be about 12 to 15 designers featured, with spring looks, long layers, and pale blues, pinks, and oranges.

The work of Ariana Reagan, one of Olson’s favorite designers, will be on view. Her Arcana label is all about creating heirloom fashion. “These are all statement pieces,” Olson says of the garments, which have silk fabrics, beautiful ruffles, and pleated details. “They are all too gorgeous. She has such an amazing intention behind each piece.”


6-8 p.m. Thursday, April 27
Hazel & Rose
945 Broadway St. NE #220, Minneapolis.

(Hazel & Rose/Athena Pelton; Red Wing Heritage Harriet Boot)

(Hazel & Rose/Athena Pelton; Hackwith Design House)