Friday, December 2, 2016

Ethical Style Note: How I Got Here

I first became passionate about ethical style via vintage clothing and the handmade movement.  As an artist and history lover, these fashion vehicles made both aesthetic and practical sense to me-- preserving the style and quality of yesteryear, and donning a unique item made by (and thus benefiting) and individual creator.  All of this allowing me to vote with my dollar against cheaply made, corporate fashion.  Little did I know, there were far more grievous factors at play in the fast fashion industry.  Years dealing in vintage clothing passed, and I applied on a whim for an opportunity to intern with a Fair Trade brand that I had discovered less than a year prior.

Now friends, I must take this moment to sidebar:  my applying for an internship at all, was in and of itself quite curious.  I wasn't a college student, and have not a single degree to my name.  I applied simply to learn and experience.  Did I feel a little crazy doing so?  Yeah, but it was the first step in forming one of my best habits to date: defying logic.  I digress, but want to encourage anyone reading, who may feel unqualified (for whatever).  The world is a-changin', if you have raw skills, use them!  Don't let lack of cultural approval, or a piece of paper that confirms your intelligence hold you back from taking a leap.

And when I took that leap, it paid off!  In just the three short months that I had the opportunity to intern at Mata Traders, my eyes were opened to the full reality of Fair Trade and the ugly truth of mainstream manufacturing.  Suddenly, even vintage and handmade took on a new value in my mind, as ethical sisters to Fair Trade!  Since, I have added thrifting and domestic (U.S., Canada, Australia, U.K., etc.) made goods to that list as well, the common thread being items made without the violation of ethical standards.  These are the roots of Novel Nellie.  Of course, realizations like this require change.

I began to think about specific online boutiques that I had occasionally shopped at, stuffed to the gills with adorable, unique, unethically produced clothing.  Ick.  It made me sad.  It made me angry.  That awareness fueled my efforts to find ethically sourced or produced clothing equally as unique and adorable, and honestly it has been super easy!  One of a kind and interesting garments are more than available in the vintage, handmade and Fair Trade marketplaces, but somehow most women don't seem to be aware of this.

These days, one of my larger passions (I have a lot of them!) is to help spread awareness about ethical consumerism in general, but also to create a boutique that offers a variety of ethical options, without sacrificing an ounce of style.

Interested in learning more?  Check back for the next Ethical Style Note: Making the Switch. I'll be sharing about my own transition from shopping mainstream, and how easy that change can be!  As always, you can also head over to Novel Nellie and check out the hand curated selection of vintage, handmade, Fair Trade and U.S. made clothing and accessories!