Last week, my office was hit with an IT meltdown of epic proportions. It was so epic in fact that I immediately hopped on Google and inquired if Mercury was retrograde. It turned out that not only was Mercury retrograde, but it was actually the first day of this latest period. Since the IT meltdown continues into this week, it’s tempting to avoid certain tasks – like writing, using a computer, or negotiating a lease renewal with your landlord.
I won’t get into the details of Mercury retrograde if you’re unfamiliar with this extremely popular astrological cycle that wins over many a skeptic. However, if you’ve noticed that your technology is on the fritz and your communications with others are a little murky, well, then you already know what it is.
Regardless of whether you believe it, a colleague shared the silver lining of all this with me. Apparently, it is a great time to finish projects rather than start something new. Her way of tying up loose ends was to take on her pile of mending. So instead of venturing out into the cold on a winter weekend day, she stayed in and hand-washed, repaired rips, sewed buttons back on, and finished all of the little things needed to keep the things she loved looking their best. And that, despite the chaos in the heavens, is just a lovely thing to do.
Visit my pinterest board for some mending and repurposing advice or share your favorite resources here. Stay warm, good luck and enjoy putting your sewing kit to good use, wearing freshly fixed clothes, and dropping off those heels that needed polishing and repair to your favorite cobbler!
“Water is the same as the blood in our bodies; stagnation brings on death.” – David James Duncan, DamNation
When I watched the documentary DamNation a few weeks ago, I found myself trying to hide tears from my boyfriend who was sitting next to me on the couch, because I couldn’t really justify why anyone would get emotional about a movie on dams. But there is something undeniably powerful about water. And tears are water after all.
The film, if you haven’t seen it yet, is a moving and stunningly beautiful look at how dams in the US were built to create progress, but now they literally are holding us back and causing more harm than good. From Washington to Maine, the dams highlighted don’t live up to what they promised and have damaged important ecosystems and the inhabiting wildlife. They have taken away livelihoods and sacred Native American grounds. They have created artificial (and under-used) recreation and drowned priceless natural beauty in water.
So by the point in the film when you see a dam exploding open and the water gushing forth, it becomes very easy to get a little gushy yourself. The author David James Duncan so perfectly captured the feeling at that moment in the film of why this liberation feels so vital: “Water is the same as the blood in our bodies; stagnation brings on death.” The release of the water instantly feels like a return to life.
I have never been interested in politics in my life, and I am too embarrassed to tell you the last time I voted, though I can confirm that at present I am registered to vote. But this film was just one more little watery gurgle that now is not the time for inaction or passivity.
Last summer, I realized that at the root of my interest in sustainability is a desire to live a life of kindness and compassion, for other people, for other living things on the earth, and for nature itself. It just so happens I’ve found my outlet to contribute to this through my work and lifestyle centered on sustainability. It’s just made sense to me. And like a healthy river, the fresh flow of life is always expanding my understanding of this.
This year, I am so excited to see where THIS I WEAR is headed. We’ll be turning three over the summer, and I’ve already got a few months’ worth of post ideas lined up. I am taking my cue from water and going with the flow, perhaps headed into uncharted waters but always embracing the vitality and direction the flow offers.
In fashion, we are more connected to water than we think: it ensures the growth of the natural fibers we weave into fabric and allows the colors we love to adhere. It cleans our clothes when they are dirty, and often carries away bits and pieces of our clothes into the oceans.
I hope you’ll be inspired by this flow and the opportunity to bring new life where there has been stagnation, to move beyond just changing the way we shop and dress but reconsidering how we live. This is the year we get closer to a more sustainable vision for fashion, and it’s going to take everyone to get us there. Luckily, we are not alone.
“Here is the river flowing, so great and so fast. There will be those that are so afraid that they’ll try to hold onto the shore. They are being torn apart and will suffer greatly. Know that the river has its destination. Let go of the shore, push off into the middle of the river and keep our heads above water. See who else is there with you.” – Hopi Proverb
Want more? Patagonia’s campaign connected to the film, “Crackdown on Deadbeat Dams”, is in its final push, so watch the film on Netflix and then head over to Change.org to sign the petition if you feel moved to act.
Are you surviving the fresh start of the new year? I hope we’ll all go a little easy on ourselves, especially with New Years resolutions. Though even without specific goals, the idea of a blank slate can be intimidating. Who will we be this year?
Waking up after no sleep, groggily making tea, brushing teeth, going through the motions, just like last year, I am back in my morning routine. But even in these seemingly thoughtless moments, I sense something bigger off in the distance that my groggy self says to look into or merely acknowledge later. Later. Big dreams have no place in small moments, we tell ourselves.
A pair of brand new snow boots I couldn’t decide whether to keep or return (am I someone who wears fuzzy things?) that was made for icy days like this. I can’t decide. I slip on my hiking boots instead, remembering how they kept my feet dry in shallow pools of water trekked through – yet unworn since the final hiking trip of summer. I’m already late and this back and forth will make my miss the train. I keep the hiking boots on.
Out the door, and I’m walking down the street. I catch a glimpse of my feet. Lightness. Strength. I walked at least fifty miles in these boots in 2014. Fifty miles, and probably more. I know who I will be this year, I had just forgotten for a moment. And though the words escape me, the way I feel in these boots is exactly the way I want to be this year.
Who knew that these boots had that kind of magic?
Who will you be this year? How will you remind yourself, even in the small moments? What will pull you back in when you’ve drifted from your path?
I love the fresh start of a new year, and this year in particular, there were so many things that I was glad to leave behind – probably more things than I could say that about in quite awhile and many of which left me exhausted enough to where writing wasn’t in the cards for the last few weeks! Gratitude, possibly the most overused word of 2014, seems like a burden more than a blessing after such a strange year for me. But actually once I gave it a moment of thought, I realized I was grateful for something this year. Not little “write a thank you note” level of grateful, but more like exploding fireworks levels of grateful.
What could inspire such levels of gratitude?
Well, this year, I’m grateful for what others might mistakenly call competition.
As I look back over 2014, I am filled with gratitude for something that I don’t talk about enough here: the other amazing writers/thinkers/doers that are making sustainable and ethical fashion and more thoughtful living and consuming an accessible and easier way of being for truly everyone.
I’ve written about it before, but for a long time I felt alone in this – looking for sustainable and responsible alternatives to what I was finding in stores as well as thinking differently about buying things. There have been other small movements – trends in buying secondhand and vintage clothes, the DIY movement, etc – but I’ve been waiting for the movement that emphasized quality and responsibility without compromising on aesthetics. The movement that was more about a lifestyle change than a small shift.
And looking back over this year, I feel like it’s arrived.
So for my moment of gratitude for 2014, I want to personally thank the people whom I think are doing an amazing job in this area – some of whom I know personally, and others I have only admired from afar; some of whom I agree with completely, and others that bring a different perspective but share a similar vision. These are my go-to visionaries and I am so grateful for what they’re adding to the conversation.
– Susie, Style Bubble – for introducing ideas of sustainability in a brand new way to her fashion-focused audience. While the ideas might not seem revolutionary to those of us who have been exposed to sustainability for awhile now, Susie’s coverage of these ideas feels truly groundbreaking given her high fashion audience and her voice in the industry. I’ve become a huge fan over the last year.
– Vanessa Friedman, NYTimes – for being bold enough to use an incredibly powerful position to shake some shit up in the fashion industry and question fashion’s seemingly untouchable modus operandi.
– Bruno Pieters, Honest By – for being the best example of what real transparency is, and bringing authenticity to a historically inauthentic industry
– Natalie, Alabama Chanin – for teaching everyone what’s actually possible for a fashion company to do. From fair wages to growing your own organic cotton, it might sound easier than it is in practice, but Natalie has shown us it’s not as impossible as it seems.
– Danielle Vermeer– for her incredible passion for connecting people in sustainability
– Anuschka, Into Mind – for breaking minimalism down for us so that simplicity is suddenly accessible
– Courtney, Be More with Less (whom I recently discovered) – for showing that minimalism isn’t about stripping away everything, but bringing more meaning to what you have
– The Ethical Writers Coalition – for taking the competition out of fashion blogging and showing that making eco-fashion the only kind of fashion is going to be a group effort.
– Rita, The American Edit – for using her background in manufacturing to introduce us to the brands and people who are actually doing “Made in US” the right way. I’m not a “Made In USA” adherent but I really appreciate Rita’s perspective and wisdom.
– Shannon Whitehead – honestly is there anything this woman is NOT doing? From teaching startups how to manufacture responsibly in the US to teaching us all more about sustainability in fashion, Shannon is killing IT on the ethical fashion education front and we’re all reaping the rewards.
This is a big list, but I would encourage all of you to check out these individuals and their work and be inspired. I think fashion is seen as a competitive field, and maybe blogging is too. But when I think about sustainability and the shared vision of a world that will be here and livable for future generations, there is no place for competition, only collaboration.
And I am so incredibly grateful and inspired by the people who each day use their voices and influence to promote a different vision, a different world where people are more happy, more content, living in sync and with respect for our earth, and not drowning in stuff.
Photo Sources (clockwise from top left): 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7.
Avi Loren Fox is the social entrepreneur and creative behind Wild Mantle, whose first product (the MANTLE) is a scarf-hoodie love child, which happens to be the perfect cozy antidote for this cold winter weather. With the recent launch of her Kickstarter campaign, Avi hopes to scale up production by enlisting the help of a B-Corp certified knitting facility in Colorado and using undyed alpaca wool yarn and recycled buttons. I interviewed Avi to learn more about her personal style, how she started her business and just how her style and values connect to her cozy accessory designs.
One of my favorite parts of the interview was learning about Avi’s own search to find more happiness and less stuff in her wardrobe while still finding plenty of ways to express herself. My other favorite part has to be the undeniable and overflowing love that Avi brings to her life and work.
Read on for Avi’s interview and how to support her (already nearly 50% funded!) Kickstarter campaign.
If someone looked into your closet, what might they learn about you?
I’m a minimalist who thrives on change. My closet is curated to contain my favorite staple tank tops and leggings mixed in with an ever-revolving collection of dresses, skirts and sweaters that I swap with friends and hunt down in thrift stores. I used to have way more clothes, but I got tired of sifting through things that weren’t quite right. So I got rid of more than half my wardrobe and have been 100% happier ever since.
Besides your favorite MANTLE, what piece in your wardrobe is your favorite to wear?
I have a pair of wood earrings handcrafted out of the heartwood of a Southern Yellow Pine (pictured). My beau carved them for me as a surprise, and I love this idea that they come from the heartwood of a tree – it’s so magical. When you hold them up to light, the wood glows naturally between the grain. They’ve replaced all my other earrings, and I wear them pretty much everyday.
What’s important to you when deciding what to wear each day?
I’ve learned that I’m only ever really truly satisfied with what I’m wearing when I listen to my intuition. I put my rational mind in the backseat and give my gut the steering wheel, and it’s so much fun! Sometimes this means I’m dressed in a really nice outfit even if I’m not going anywhere, or I discover a new combination that I never would have “thought” up. But it guarantees that I always feel good when I leave the house.
What sparked your interest in sustainability?
Looking back, I can find all sorts of clues throughout my life that point towards an interest in sustainability. But it was really Dr. Geoffrey Whitehall’s class in International Relations my freshman year at Hobart & William Smith Colleges. This class started a snowball effect in my life. I transferred to Temple University, majored in Environmental Studies, and became politically active when I founded an environmental organization in my hometown. While my sustainability interest was initially fear-based (i.e. we have to save the world from climate change and social inequality), it has shifted to become vision-based, focusing instead on how we can build a more beautiful world for everyone.
Did you ever think that interest would connect to fashion or making a product?
The MANTLE has been the most amazing surprise, like a lost puppy that wandered through my door one day. After I initially had the idea, it took a while for me to come to terms with the idea of making a product and “manufacturing,” because as a country we have an issue with making too much stuff. But it’s like Star Wars; you have to go in the Death Star to blow it up. So I’ve become invested in trying to figure out how I can enter our existing systems and restructure the foundation so that sustainable choices are available and made.
How do the values of the MANTLE – sustainability, empowerment, adventure – carry over into other parts of your life?
These values actually manifested in my life well before the MANTLE showed up. I have this vision of a lifestyle that lies at the intersection of these three values, and I’m on a mission to discover how to create that for myself and share it with the world. While I’m not perfect, when it comes to what I buy and how I live my life, I try to make choices that move our planet towards sustainability.
I’ve also been really intrigued by the concept of empowerment and how I could grow more as a person. A few years ago, my best friend brought me to an empowerment workshop led by Josie Maran, an amazing eco-preneur who has since become by big sister business mentor. The workshop helped me make big changes in my life, and I felt inspired to build the empowerment ethos into whatever I did next. In terms of adventure, I definitely embody that contradiction of cozy homemaker and spontaneous traveler. Over the years, I’ve given myself permission to balance and seek both sides of myself. I realize that sometimes the biggest adventures come from opening your eyes and appreciating what you have at home.
When you’re not working on your business, what are you up to?
Not working? Hehe, I’m pretty much always working. I even see mantles in my dreams. For real. In my dream last night, Jay-Z and I had the idea to make Beyoncé a golden MANTLE with a queen honeybee on it. But I’m a Libra and thrive on balance. On Saturday nights and Sundays, I try to unplug from the world and spend time with my beau. Other than that, I carve out time to see my girlfriends or swing by my parents’ house and usually have a few laughs. When I’m on my game, I also get my groove on at the gym three days a week, and whenever possible I sneak in some quiet notebook/dream time in coffee shops in the winter or the woods in the summer.
Thanks to Avi for answering all of these questions and sharing some of her beautiful photography! Ready to claim your own MANTLE and support this savvy woman entrepreneur? Support the Wild Mantle Kickstarter here and make sure to watch the beautiful video. Also, a special thanks to my eco co-warrior and fellow blogger Danielle Vermeer for introducing me to Avi!