When faith meets fashion
Chine Mbubaegbu meets the owners of a luxury ethical fashion brand that is making waves with royalty, celebrities and the media...
Lady Natasha Rufus Isaacs and Lavinia Brennan are not what I'd expected. They are friends of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and now list the likes of supermodel Kate Moss and film star Demi Moore among the clients of their ethical fashion label Beulah, which in less than two years has captured the media's attention.
But these are no ordinary fashionistas. In many ways they contradict the stereotype of the fashion industry being vapid and shallow. The pair attend Alliance member church Holy Trinity Brompton and have a deep sense of God's calling them into this industry.
Their luxury clothing brand has featured in the media spotlight in recent months. Their popularity was also boosted when the Duchess of Cambridge wore one of their stunning gowns at a charity event. "We've been quite fortunate with the press," says Natasha. "People love a brand with a story."
The name Beulah is a biblical term that means 'to come from a place of darkness into one of light'; and that is what the girls are trying to do with their fashion brand. Natasha and Lavinia set up Beulah London after returning from a trip to India, where they became aware of the horrors of human trafficking while working with rape victims in the slums of Delhi and Kolkata.
Beulah London employs some of these women in India to create needlework for the products. "We're trying to make sure that the production is ethical," says Lavinia. "For us, it's really key that we are transparent in what we're doing. Our end goal is to have the girls involved in production."
Lavinia and Natasha certainly look the part. But the fashion industry is not where they thought they would end up. Lavinia is a theology graduate, while Natasha previously worked at auctioneers Sotheby's and for Al Gordon, worship leader at HTB.
The Duchess of Cambridge is
a big fan of Beulah London.
Credit: Clarence House
Giving up full-time employment to start a fashion label was a daunting prospect, but, as Natasha explains: "We both had to be obedient and listen to what God called us into doing. It was incredibly risky and quite a scary thing to plunge ourselves into, but I think He's really blessed our obedience in that."
I'm surprised at how candid they are about their faith. They give glory to God for the business's popularity and dotted around their office in Parsons Green are Bible verses and words of inspiration.
They are just as open with the secular press, who often focus on their Christianity in newspaper articles. It's strange to hear about faith within fashion, but they are up for the challenge of being salt and light.
"We're called to be in the world and not of it," says Lavinia. "You can't shed light in dark areas if you don't go into those areas... People are really drawn to our difference and our faith is quite a conversation starter as people are always intrigued by it."
The girls really want to bring hope through their fashion label. They have recently joined the UN's Blue Heart Campaign against human trafficking and a proportion of the profits from each product they sell will go towards the initiative.
"Our whole aim is to make women feel beautiful both inside and out," says Lavinia. Little touches, such as inscribing many of their items with, "Love like you've never been hurt, dance as though no-one is watching, sing as though no can hear you," means they are doing just that.