What exactly does it mean to live sustainably? Every day we make choices that affect the environment, the climate and other species. From what we eat to what we purchase, there’s a lot we can do to “choose” and reduce our environmental footprint. Thankfully, there are amazing people on and offline that make it easier for us to learn about what steps we can take to be better to our one and only home planet. Supporting sustainability leaders who are advocates of social justice and environmentalism will help you expand your horizons and it helps in making positive changes easier.
Meet Natalie Kay, who has come to the rescue! She’s a mom who at the same time is the sustainability mentor of more than 90K followers. She created Sustainably Chic, where she walks us through this sustainable path and helps people to find the right places to buy eco-friendly products. Everyone at The Good Tee and nearly 3000 visitors a day on her website agree, she's the queen of sustainability!
Tell us a little bit about yourself, and your sustainable journey so far. How did sustainably chic come about?
My sustainable journey has been a long one, and of course, it’s constantly evolving. I went to school for fashion over a decade ago and realized my passion had started to fizzle because I disagreed with the majority of the industry. I decided if I wanted to keep my focus on fashion, I needed to help fix the things that upset me. Fashion was always a big part of my life with my mom and her fabric/sewing machine store, so it wasn’t something I wanted to walk away from. I wasn’t able to find a job in sustainable fashion where I was living - not even sure there were many jobs at this point, to begin with -, so I created my little corner on the internet where I could talk about the things I wanted to see change.
What was the moment that brought you into the world of ethical fashion? What made you start Sustainably Chic?
In college, I would read a lot about workers' unethical treatment and the gross amount of waste caused by the new phenomenon of fast fashion. After college, I felt lost and unsure which career path to follow since sustainable fashion was not a huge topic. A few years go by, and I still am not doing exactly what I want, so I decide to start talking about sustainable fashion online and create a community where we can showcase brands who take this topic seriously.
What is your take on fast fashion and how do you think people can switch to more sustainable and ethical options?
There is nothing sustainable about the business model of fast fashion. I don’t think we can fully get away from that industry unless sustainable fashion is more inclusive and accessible. Even for people who can afford more ethical & sustainable options, it isn’t always convenient or approachable. Education is essential because greenwashing is prevalent within the industry and can easily fool people. This is not an overnight thing.
The first true cost series you made was with The Good Tee. What was the response you got from the campaign and why did you decide to do it?
The response was amazing. When you can see the numbers behind a product, everything makes so much more sense. It makes you realize there are many people behind a single garment, and they all deserve fairness. We can't just say 'sustainable fashion is more expensive.' We have to show why it is and the complexities behind fashion.
Who or what is your current inspiration or mentor?
It’s the sustainable fashion community online. All the different voices bring in all the importance of this movement.
What does a typical day look like running Sustainably Chic?
It's a long one! I try to wake up a few hours before my son to get partnership pitches and emails answered. I have a manager who goes through all of that for me, which is amazing because 90% of pitches, I would say 'no.' I update posts, plan pins and social media, and brainstorm writing ideas. A lot of the day goes to the posts' actual writing once I get my son into school. Sometimes I have to dedicate most of the day to photography or video, but I don't do that as much as I used to. I recently started hiring writers to help with all the content I've wanted to have on Sustainably Chic for years but haven't had the time to do yet.
How do you balance life being a mom and a full time sustainable blogger? Any tips for other moms who want to teach their kids about sustainability?
I used not to be able to balance it well at all. I just enrolled Elliott into school a couple of months ago, and it has been a game-changer for me. I think the best tip I can give is to lead by example. My mom always made us use what we had before buying something new, and while I was not too fond of it as a kid, this thought has carried over with me as an adult.
What’s the best part about running Sustainably Chic?
I love the fact I can meet so many great people and learn from their experiences and expertise. It’s also nice to see a little thought of mine expand into this business where I can’t do it all on my own anymore. When I first started this blog, I had no idea it would be my full-time job. I was so scared to make that decision of leaving a paycheck, and now I’m able to pay people to help me grow this brand. I’ve shocked myself with what this site has become.
It’s been a tough go this year for so many, but we’re sure there has also been some good. When was the last time you had a really good laugh?
I have an almost 3 year old, so laughter is a daily thing in this house!
What future plans do you have for Sustainably Chic?
I hope to bring on a lot more voices to share their expertise in sustainable fashion. We’ve recently brought on over a handful of writers to share their perspectives on important topics within sustainability. There is so much I want to write, but now that the site has over 3,000 visitors a day, I think more voices are just necessary. We plan to write many more educational posts so Sustainably Chic can have everything you need to know about textiles and sustainable living as a whole.
Anything else you would like to share?
Sustainable fashion is something you can start today by loving and taking care of the clothes you already have :)
What about you? Are you ready to take that next step into sustainability? We know it’s not easy, but we are fortunate to have people like Natalie to help us get an easier start. Already into sustainable life and fashion? Share with us your favorite brands!
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