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From a career in finance to model activism: meet Janice Sommer

From a career in finance to model activism: meet Janice Sommer
By Renoon

Meet Janice Sommer, a model activist who uses her voice to change the fashion industry. She shared with us her atypical journey going from finance to a modelling career to green activism and introduced her personal evolution. Together with a group called the “Model Mafia” founded by Áine Rose Campbell and Cameron Russell, she now raises awareness on topics from sustainability to inclusivity.

On March 23rd, we had the opportunity to share our ideas about sustainability and fashion with Janice Sommer, a model activist who makes use of her visibility and voice to spread awareness about environmental issues and the impact of the fashion industry. 

Janice’s journey towards modeling was, as she defined it herself, “not classical” and “atypical” — even though she started a promising career within the field of finance and consulting, she later realized that she didn’t feel a deep connection with her job and thus reinvented herself by pursuing a career in modeling (to which she has been dedicating for the last 2.5 years).

Her passion for sustainability grew bigger after she was given the opportunity to work with big fashion brands. The experience with such misleadingly self-declared “conscious” companies, indeed, opened her eyes, exposing her to the reality of fast fashion and the too-common green-washing practices that so deeply define it. 

Stronger together

When she discovered about Model Mafia, a growing community of 350+ model activists who team up for environmental and social advocacy, she realized she found people who had, much like herself, an inside perspective of the inequalities rooted in the fashion industry and, most importantly, the desire to be part of the change. 

model mafia

The community, founded by Áine Rose Campbell and Cameron Russell in New York in December 2016, stands on shared ideas of sustainability, inclusivity and justice and aims at creating a resilient and unified voice among models to fight abusive dynamics within the modeling world, spread knowledge about best practices and promote a more sustainable, equitable fashion.

Together, not only they took part to social media campaigns for racial and climate justice, but walked in sustainable fashion shows at the UN, set up a Covid-19 relief fund and helped break the silence about the #MeTooMovement in fashion.

Time for change

As Janice decided to join forces and make an effort to change the system from within, she exported the idea to London and started to use social medias to talk about climate justice and celebrate those brands that are vocal about their sustainable policies.

By raising questions about the key issues concerning the fashion industry, she aims at creating an open and collective space of discussion, to share, empower and advocate for everything related to eco-fashion, by tackling the many problems models face everyday by working in such a complex and at times challenging field.

Among others, there’s the impossibility for model activists to afford living off partnerships with sustainable brands only and, for instance, to really know if the companies they work for are indeed sustainable — as they too often lack transparency. Janice engages with all of these topics and showcases her favorite sustainable entrepreneurs on her new podcast, In Conscious Conversation, which can be found on Spotify and iTunes.

By encouraging people to change their misconception about models (as people who supposedly don’t have strong opinions about such issues) and to keep a positive yet proactive attitude, Janice hopes to fuel transformation and invites brands to start target-oriented conversations about what we all care about: sustainable fashion in every aspect.

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