Ep 33. “My fashion addiction got me into an $100,000 debt,” with Isabel Varela.

The ANIMA ANIMUS Podcast is on a mission to bring the conversation of sustainability to the forefront of the fashion industry. Join Chelsea and her guests in learning and growing, unravelling the issues that the fashion system has caused, both on our planet and its people. Follow us on your favourite streaming app, Apple Podcasts, Spotify or listen here now. Featured in the Top 10 UK Fashion podcasts.


From fashion addict to fashion advocate.


I want you guys to imagine being a 26 years old, young entrepreneur roaring to go in building the best fashion empire you possibly can. You’ve quit your 9-to-5 to work in your own amazing studio in downtown Dallas. You’re currently stocked in five stores and was named “Designer to Watch,” by many fashion publications. Then suddenly, you get a phone call where you’re being told your car was going to be repossessed…. slowly, you realise your self-destructive relationship to fashion was what ironically crumbled your fashion empire down. This is the story of Isabel Varela, and boy have you guys got a story this week!


So how does one go from being a successful fashion entrepreneur to getting into $100,000 dollars in debt?! Honestly, such an incredible story and just like any sort of addiction, it’s so inspiring to hear the emotional, physical, mental and even spiritual journey that people go through, to overcome the addiction within themselves. Isabel is now a life coach and major sustainable fashion advocate, with a mission to empower other, by helping them build better relationships with themselves and their clothing for a more sustainable future.


A sustainable fashion podcast by Chelsea from The ANIMA ANIMUS Podcast, featuring Isabel Varela who is a sustainable fashion advocate, sustainability consultant and life coach.

Contact links:

Isabel’s Instagram: click here. // Website: click here.


Time-stamps and key thoughts/ ideas bought up in this episode:


7:00 – Introducing Isabel: fashion designer turned sustainability consultant and life coach.


12:00 – The turning point: how does a successful fashion entrepreneur accumulate a $100,000 debt?

- “Right back to when I had my first job at 16 in retail, every pay-check went back into new clothes and that gave me a sort of adrenaline. I felt loved, I felt pretty, and fashion was like a mask, so I kept going.” – Isabel.

- “Let’s say if a date didn’t go well, I would suppress it and start hitting the stores… and my game was, I would go to every single rack, I have to go quickly and pick as many pieces that I think would look good and hit the changing room and try them all on quickly… I would get a dreadful feeling here thinking if my card would get declined, but then rationalize it all by thinking I can pay it all off later.” – Isabel.


18:40 – The thoughts at the time which rationalized the fashion addition.

- Thinking you need to always look good and in a certain way, being the successful fashion entrepreneur you were.

- “Too look sexy for men, and I realised it tied into how I was really insecure, and one thing I really hated was having small boobs so I ended up getting breast implants at 22. Now that I had what I wanted, I thought the clothes would also now look better for men, and to also get women attention and get them to be jealous of my style. Because now I looked quote on quote “more Latina…” I wanted to be around men, and fit in with these women, because I felt I was never enough.” – Isabel.


27:00 – How would Isabel recommend others in building a healthier relationship to clothing?


31:00 – More on Isabel’s documentary entitled, “Fashion Addict”.

- Click here to watch.

- Looking at fashion from a physiological, emotional, social and spiritual lens.

- The goal is for the audience to leave knowing that they are not alone. "Fashion Addict" is the story of many of us in the world and can relate to one or more parts of the film.


32:30 – “Clothes minded,” an art exhibition curated by Isabel in 2018.

- Focuses on shedding light on the malpractices found within the fashion industry: mistreatment of employees, fashion addiction, the insurmountable waste that occurs, and more. The goal was to educate and teach the many positive ways we can make an impact by making small changes individually.