Around the time she graduated from the Rhode Island School of Design, Peggy Sue Deaven-Smiltnieks started paying closer attention to the environment — she asked herself if fashion could help improve lives, the land, and the animals it was a by-product of. The answer was a resounding “Yes!”

A decade later, the California native is a leader in sustainable fashion. Now based in Toronto, Deaven-Smiltnieks has won several awards, including the 2017 Emerging Designer Award for her farm-to-fashion creations in the Peggy Sue Collection. Deaven-Smiltnieks says her success reflects the fact that people are starting to question their prejudices about sustainable fashion.

She sees her role as an educator as an important one. “It’s not the consumer’s job to be conscientious,” she says. “It is the designer’s job, and they must have a holistic approach to design. They should ask themselves, ‘When an item is discarded, what happens to it?’”