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Hey ladies, I am excited to present to you the very first edition of my monthly Sustainable talk interview series that will take place every first Thursday of the month and where I will introduce you to sustainable experts talking about ethical fashion, natural beauty, and eco-friendly lifestyle.

Sustainable Talk: Interview with Natalie from Sustainably Chic

Today, I am extremely happy to introduce you to Natalie from Sustainably Chic. Based in Charleston, U.S.A. and with Swiss roots (it’s a small world! Keep reading until the end to know where!), I discovered Natalie’s sustainable style through Instagram. She started her blog less than 3 years ago and she’s already established herself as one of the biggest sustainable bloggers working together with ethical fashion, beauty and lifestyle brands. Through her curated selection, she is sharing with us her passion for conscious fashion and as a consequence her concern for people making our clothes and her care for our planet inextricably contributing to a better economy. As she states: “shop positive, shop small, shop sustainably”.
Without further ado, let’s learn more about Natalie, shall we?

Margot: Sustainable fashion is the main topic of your blog. Was fashion the first step into your conscious lifestyle? How did it evolve?

Natalie: It was! Actually, Fair Trade goods to be more specific. While studying in college, I came across a few articles on unethical treatment and waste. I couldn’t believe what I was reading so I started doing some research on my own. This is where I found Fair Trade, which led into organic fabrics, sustainability, and ethical fashion. It was a slow process at first – the seed was planted almost 7 years ago, and it didn’t really start to grow until two years after learning about the topic. The blog has only been around for 2.5 years, and I think I’ve done most of my learning and growing within that time frame. My lifestyle is forever changing with the time {as well as my personal environment & economy} which I find sustainability to be all about.

M: Do you remember a specific moment or event in your life that made you feel differently about fashion in general? What was it like?

N: Finding those articles definitely sparked my interest in a different way of experiencing fashion. I love fashion {like many people}, and I still wanted it to be in my life. There is value in the industry, and it creates a lot of economic opportunity for people all over the world. We can’t dismiss it, but we can change it so everyone can experience it fairly. It took me a while to figure out what was okay to buy. I didn’t have The True Cost or Instagram making my transition easy. Focusing on sustainability towards the end of my studies truly changed how I felt about the big picture. It was so much more than the fabric; it was about the people, the economy & the environment.

M: How long did it take you to transition from “regular” brands to sustainable brands?

N: I think I had a few fast fashion purchases 4 years ago? Definitely took about two years to change my habits. Then again, I didn’t have the same tools to tell me what was right or wrong when I started. I had no idea about H&M or other fast fashion manufacturing. No one was talking about it around me. However, I had read and watched a video about Saipan where brands like Gap would manufacture – those were on my list of no-nos in the very beginning. I always had a love for great vintage finds and thrift clothes, so most of my shopping was already in the right direction. After learning about sustainability, I knew I had to support new emerging ethical brands in order to change the industry. Shopping at thrift stores won’t create change. We must stand behind the brands who can make sustainable fashion possible. It is the only way to defeat the ‘bad guys’.

M: I love the evocative name Sustainably Chic, you chose for your website. What are the misconceptions about sustainable fashion?

N: I think the two biggest misconceptions are price and aesthetic. Either the consumer believes it to be unfashionable or too expensive {usually not both!}. I’m hopeful we have changed a lot of these ideas because it simply isn’t true. Just like every other industry, there are some, which are very pricey, and some, which missed the mark on design but the majority, is quite the opposite. Unfortunately, everyone wants to pay $5 for a t-shirt, and if you are paying less than $20, someone is being taken advantage of somewhere {consumer included!}.

Sustainable Talk: Interview with Natalie from Sustainably Chic

M: Sustainability gathers a different type of ethics. It’s sometimes difficult to combine all of all them in one product. What are the most important ethics for you when buying a sustainable product?

N: Love this question because you are so right. Many believe there is this one definition for ethical fashion, which is quite impossible being ethics is a discussion rather than a definite. For me, I look at each brand differently. With sustainability, you have to. Each artisan, community, and brand are going to each define what is sustainable for them. For example, I partner with many ‘fair trade’ brands who work within small villages and upcycle material from their meat industry {aka leather}. I HATE waste, and I can’t justify people eating meat if they don’t use the whole animal. My diet doesn’t have to participate, but we aren’t going to change it for everyone tomorrow. Instead of creating new material or {even worse} plastic leather, use what you have but do it responsibly. When I look at a product, I first ask “who made it?”. Then I go through a long list to determine if the product is ‘sustainable’ enough for me to support. Honestly, it is so situational and all about balance. I don’t have one way of going about this, and keeping an open mind is very important.

Sustainable Talk: Interview with Natalie from Sustainably Chic

M: Is it sometimes challenging for you to meet your personal style with sustainable brands?

N: Absolutely not! I have over 100 brands on my site alone which each have their unique style. Something for everyone! You can find them all here.

M: How do you feel when you wear sustainable clothes?

N: I feel I look the same, but it helps me sleep at night! I felt so guilty when I first heard about the consequences of my fast fashion purchases.

M: Who are your favorite ethical bloggers?

N: This has been one of my favorite parts about owning Sustainably Chic – meeting all the other bloggers! Ethical Writers Coalition and the Ethical Influencer Network is full of amazing ethical bloggers. Holly from Leotie Lovely & Kamea of Koncious Whispers are pretty awesome 😉 A lot of us have become friends, and really lean on each other for support and encouragement because ethical blogging isn’t the easiest.

Sustainable Talk: Interview with Natalie from Sustainably Chic

M: Where do you think the balance is between ethical consuming and promoting it?

N: I think about this a lot… it is a hard balance. You promote having a smaller, better closet, but you have more dresses than days in the year {exaggerating}. However, if I wasn’t creating these outfits and taking photos, I wouldn’t be engaging anyone’s interest and changing the way we buy. I try to keep my new items to a limit, as well. Other fashion bloggers typically take free products to put into posts, but I have to create a relationship with the brand in order to accept anything. Being that it is more of a process to work with SC, it keeps my closet to a minimum. For January, I only took on a coat, dress, water bottle and pair of shoes. Four new items for an entire month of blogging is much smaller than the average.

M: Do you sometimes find yourself craving for non-sustainable products?

N: I think I have disgusted myself so much with fast fashion, I can’t even look at a Forever 21 – so, no. haha.

M: What are your main tips for a newbie in the ethical fashion world?

N: Don’t go overboard right in the beginning. I think we overwhelm ourselves, and then avoid even trying. Appreciate what you already have, and when you do need to purchase something new {or want to treat yourself because that is totally okay and helps the industry!} see what the bloggers are promoting. We do all the work for you and want the transition to be easy.

Sustainable Talk: Interview with Natalie from Sustainably Chic

M: You are also sharing natural beauty products and eco-friendly lifestyle brands. Which are your favorite cosmetic brands and your favorite lifestyle accessories?

N: You can find all my favorite cosmetics and lifestyle accessories here.

M: What is the next milestone you want to achieve for 2017, personally and/or for your blog?

N: This year is about time management and my feelings. I’m super sensitive and the littlest comment will have me in tears. People can be very mean, and I just need to learn to ignore it. I can’t please everyone, but I hope they all know I don’t think I am always right or think everyone needs to live a certain way. That is not what SC is about. Also, I work over ten hours a day and I’m over it. I can’t keep that up. These seem like tiny ‘milestones’ but I think I will feel so much better if I accomplish them.

Sustainable Talk: Interview with Natalie from Sustainably Chic

M: On a more personal note, your family comes from Romandy, the French-speaking part of Switzerland. Did you grow up there? Was french the primary language at home?

N: Lots of my family still live in Vaud, but my parents raised us in the States. I’m very fortunate to have two passports and visit overseas often. I think my Grandmaman would have loved for French to be the primary language at home, but it wasn’t. I really only get my practice in when I am over there visiting. It comes back quickly! This year, I plan to get together with my Grandmaman every week and only speak French. I need to. I’m losing it!

Thank you, Natalie for taking the time to answer my questions and for sharing with us a bit of your life!
Follow Natalie on her Instagram @sustainablychic !

See you on Thursday 2nd of February for the next Sustainable Talk!