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Activist and expert in all things fashion, Ruby Veridiano shares valuable insights on finding one’s passion and one’s voice as a woman in today’s society. From her extensive NGO work helping women to becoming a real pioneer in the fashion industry, Ruby is an inspiration for all women.

Words By Shannon Rice

November, 27th 2020

Women’s empowerment is the future. All over the world we are seeing a rise of women in positions of power, driving change, and being a voice for those yet to be heard. But reaching this point has by no means been a walk in the park. It has been a slow, gruelling process but we are still far from where we want to be. Ruby Veridiano, a Filipino American, found herself at crossroads when faced with the desire to make valuable changes and wanting to find the roots of her passion. 

Before transitioning into the fashion industry, Ruby was travelling all over the world working with NGOs to empower women at a grassroots level. “In 2010, I got to work for an organization called Lit World,” Ruby tells us, “which is an organization providing a literacy program specifically for women and girls, as [on average] they have lower literacy rates [than males]. Literacy is very important because if you think about it, it could be a life or death situation.” And she’s not wrong. She goes on to say how something as simple as reading and writing can make all the difference in a young woman’s life. In New York City, Ruby also had the chance to mentor young women about to go to college. “I think that that experience, being on the ground with young women and hearing what they care about, hearing what dreams they have, what fears they have, I think it’s really informed my journey and how I want to be of service.” 

“[…] don’t be afraid to fail. Know that falling flat on your face and having those challenges is a gift”

Ruby’s incredible experiences early on in life certainly helped her hone in on her passion. She stresses how important it is to try many different avenues to find the right one. “I think that if you are in your 20s or early 30s, don’t be afraid to fail. Know that falling flat on your face and having those challenges is a gift,” she says. “I think that because I had so many challenges in my 20s, so many ups and downs, it helped me clarify what I wanted and where I wanted to be. That kind of clarity is only possible if you feel like you’ve tried everything, there are a lot of lessons to be gained from failure. I like to say that failure is my greatest teacher.” 

Through activism, grass-roots work, and a deep sense of passion, Ruby realized she wanted to pursue her dream of working in fashion but from a women’s empowerment and sustainability standpoint. We often think about how working conditions and supply chains affect our ecological footprint, but we do not often consider it in terms of gender equality. She mentions how she was an activist which, at the time, was a largely male dominated space, so she is used to having to battle her way for her voice to be heard. “I realized that so many people who are affected negatively by the fashion industry are women, especially those working in the supply chain,” she continues. Initially, Ruby was unsure how she would make the transition from NGO work to the fashion industry. “At the time, in 2010/2011, traditional careers in fashion didn’t fit my skill set or my interest. So I was really digging to find how I could get involved in fashion in a way that made sense for my work as an activist for women’s empowerment,” she explains. “After doing more research, I realized that in sustainable fashion, the focus is not limited to the environment, but extends to human and women’s rights, encompassing issues of race, class and gender.” It wasn’t until 2014 when she went to Paris for graduate school that she finally made the move to fashion, a transition that came very naturally to her.

“When you come from a place of alignment, you end up crossing paths with people you never thought you’d meet”

Ruby’s desire to champion women’s rights and address intersectionalities in conscious fashion opened up incredible opportunities for her, working with the likes of Louis Vuitton, LVMH and Alicia Keys. She tells us that when you align yourself with your core goals and values, that is when the magic happens. “I worked with Alicia Keys back in 2010, when she was launching her women’s empowerment blog so it was something that truly aligned with my mission,” she says. “When you come from a place of alignment, you end up crossing paths with people you never thought you’d meet.” Lesson learned: live in alignment with yourself and the stars will align for you. 

At the moment, Ruby is working on her own project, a podcast called Grit and Glamour. She mentions how it was a passion project that arose from the pandemic. She saw the opportunity to utilize her network of smart and inspiring friends, and use their insights to share purposeful stories with her audience. “I knew these were conversations I wanted to have but I thought they might also be of value to my community. I have brilliant people in my life and even though they aren’t celebrities or famous yet, the podcast has great potential to help people.” 

The inspiration behind the name Grit and Glamour stems from Ruby’s life experience and the message she wants to share with the world: “People don’t get to where they are overnight. There was a lot of heartbreak and a lot of blood, sweat and tears shed in my journey. You might not see these hardships but there are always two sides to every story. Most of the time, people get to where they are because of the grit. And why not add some glamour!”

Ruby’s kind heart, determination, and inspirational words are a true example of what it means to be a powerful voice for women. The grassroots work she has done in the past has allowed her to become a pioneer in the fashion industry and someone for women to look up to. Within all women lies infinite potential. With a little courage, grit and determination, we can achieve anything we set our minds to.