Conscious Chatter
Conscious Chatter
Kestrel Jenkins & Natalie Shehata
An inclusive audio space, Conscious Chatter opens the door to conversations about our clothing + the layers of stories, meaning and potential impact connected to what we wear. Hosted by Kestrel Jenkins & Natalie Shehata, Conscious Chatter tackles nuanced sustainable fashion topics via a roundtable format. Through deep dive monthly themes, the focus is on making the conversation more circular.
Vintage stylist Beth Jones & Dounia Wone of Vestiaire Collective on whether fast fashion brands fit into the resale experience
In episode 314, you’ll hear our first official roundtable format, featuring guests Beth Jones, YouTube star and creator of B. Jones Style, alongside Dounia Wone, the Chief Impact Officer at Vestiaire Collective, a platform that showcases luxury preloved fashion. “It’s few and far between that the fast fashion holds up against vintage or really quality pieces maybe made by a designer or things like that … Even if it has a vintage look to it, there’s something about it that doesn’t hold up in a way. And honestly, I will be a little bummed. It’s Zara. I’d rather have the old Kathys of California blazer or dress. I end up not being excited about it, so often, I just go with something else instead.” -Beth “Vestiaire is a 15 year old company. Our founders really believed in fighting overconsumption and overproduction back then in Paris … When I went to them and said ‘ok, let’s ban fast fashion,’ they were completely in … what we want is that it will educate the consumers on our platform. What we were looking at is the behavior … what we saw for the last year was actually people are staying on the platform, 70% of the people who were impacted by the ban stayed on the platform and actually reinvested more and bought less.” -Dounia JANUARY THEME — Fast Fashion, Consumption & Why Self Work Is Integral To Changemaking When we talk about the messes of the fashion industry, a recurring theme we circle back to is – OVERPRODUCTION – especially with regard to fast fashion. Whether you’re super interested in sustainability and fashion or you’re new to the conversation, most people today are coming to the basic conclusion that fast fashion is problematic, due to its incessant mass production. There has been a lot of commentary over the last 7 years, about I guess, the questioning of our moral compass, when it comes to how we shop for fast fashion. What do I mean by that? Let’s break it down.  We know that fast fashion is everywhere, and that so much of our clothing ends up in charity shops, where sadly, a great deal of it is destined for landfill.  So, to address this cycle, does it make sense to buy fast fashion from the secondhand economy? Can we then prevent these clothes from ending up in landfills?  It’s not that simple. Other questions come up like – “If we adopt the same shopping behaviors in the secondhand economy as we have with fast fashion, what really changes? Where do we draw the line?” Or Aren’t we just encouraging the fast fashion industry to churn out more *stuff* to feed the overproducing system it has generated? In this week's episode, we chat with two incredible powerhouse women from very different realms of the fashion industry. They each contribute so much to helping dissect this tension –  We explore the layers of responsibility we hold as everyday individuals The power organizations hold in enacting change And how lobbying and legislation is an integral part of fashioning a better future for fashion.  We also discuss the power of personal style and how we can all start shifting our buying behavior by ‘Always Playing Dress Up’. Sound familiar? One of our guests coined that very phrase. Tune in as we dive deeper into our January theme – Fast Fashion, Consumption & Why Self Work Is Integral To Changemaking.  Quotes & links from the conversation: “Not-So-Fast Fashion: Embracing Responsible Consumption Through Online Activism”, article by Dounia that Nat mentions B. Jones Style Website Vestiaire Collective Website Beth’s YouTube Follow Beth on TikTok Follow Vestiaire on TikTok Follow Beth on Instagram Follow Dounia on Instagram Follow Vestiaire Collective on Instagram
Jan 30
1 hr 5 min
Why self work is integral to advocating for transformation in fashion & why we must deeply question our personal values to truly get active in creating a more sustainable fashion future
In episode 313, you’ll hear from co-hosts (yes, co-hosts!) Kestrel Jenkins and Natalie Shehata in the launch of Season 7. This is also the first episode in which Kestrel and Nat showcase their new co-host dynamic. With this powerful community-driven change, they’ve teamed up to reimagine some aspects of the show. Here’s what you can expect this season: Roundtable Discussions — featuring at least 2 guests per episode Focus On Making The Conversation More Circular — bringing more folks to the table to learn from various voices at the same time Monthly Themes — we’ll hone in on a specific topic each month Bi-Weekly Episodes — expect to hear 2 episodes per month, instead of the previous 4 because, slow media :) JANUARY THEME — FAST FASHION, CONSUMPTION & WHY SELF WORK IS INTEGRAL TO CHANGEMAKING Do you remember episode 303 when we talked about slow media and telling stories through love, not labor? In our kickoff to the new season, we decided to go deeper into this love-not-labor concept – to explore what it really means and how this approach directly relates to sustainable fashion.  Pulling back a little further – our focus of this show is Self Work. But what does this really mean? In general, it gets aligned with the idea of self improvement. Across the fashion media landscape and socials lately, we’ve seen a heightened interest in looking inward to question what you really want out of your life. Why? Well, it’s the time for annual resolutions, as we just celebrated the launch of a new year. And with that – in sustainable fashion lately, there’s been a lot of commentary about how things need to be reimagined across the industry, with folks voicing different approaches to achieve larger scalable transformation. At the same time, it feels like the movement needs to have a more organic approach and not be so defined or limited – because as it stands, sustainability is so different to each of us, and in order to cultivate a space that is truly diverse, we all need to be at the table to provide our unique approaches.  But whether or not we’re at the table, in order to take any sort of action, we need to go back to the beginning and tune into ourselves. When was the last time you questioned your values? What do you truly care about? Until we are clear on these aspects within ourselves, how can we live out these values and put them into practice?  Therein lies the crux of what we break down in this week's show.  Find more notes at
Jan 16
1 hr 23 min
Denali Jöel on fashion as an art praxis rooted in Afro-Indigenous philosophies, interrogating the emphasis placed on the *industry* & reminding us of the possibility of creating new ecosystems
In episode 312, Kestrel welcomes Denali Jöel, a non-binary Multidisciplinary Artist, Designer, Educator and Fashion Griot, to the show. Born and raised in Kingston, Jamaica, Denali has been an asylee living in the US since 2014, recently obtaining their U.S. citizenship this year. Their art praxis intersects design, performance, media and community engagement with particular focus on queer identities and Afro-diasporan histories, futures, collective healing, and radical imagination.  “It comes back to us as an individual but also as a collective to recognize that we need to shift our own relationship to fashion and with fashion as a tool for the ways in which that we show up, the ways in which we disrupt our own oppression. I think we place so much emphasis on calling out and asking industry to do better and I’m just like — the industry is actually operating the way it’s supposed to, like it was built. Again, when you think about whose imagination we are living in, that is the imagination. And so, when we force folks to shift, are we just bullying them into performing a version of change or is it possible that we could create new ecosystems within our own selves — and using the resources available to us — but creating that shift and slowly moving away from industry and start thinking more about ecosystems.” -Denali This is THE FINAL EPISODE of Season 6. Launched in February of 2022, this season has taken us on a journey – and here we are, arriving at the 52nd episode of this era of Conscious Chatter. Over the last two years on the show, we have questioned so much of how the fashion industry operates, and really dove into unique ways that individuals, companies and initiatives are working to basically unlearn *the way fashion has been done* and relearn new ways of reimagining its future.  This final episode of the season feels really important to me – as it’s the last show that will be oriented in this way. As Nat and I have teased a bit here and there, we have a fresh approach to Conscious Chatter coming to you with Season 7. :) But with this immense feeling of wanting to culminate Season 6 in an extra meaningful and circular way, I sat and questioned for quite some time who could provide that sort of grounding presence. When I thought of this week’s guest, I felt instantly at ease and an all-encompassing feeling of warmth and hope surrounded me. They were the person that could help us close out this season. It may sound a bit airy fairy, but this episode feels like a massive hug to me – I hope you feel it too. In today’s world, we hear the word INTENTIONAL thrown around a lot. It’s one of those words that has taken hold in recent years and become a go-to. While we see its use on a consistent basis, I’m not entirely sure whether we’re seeing its meaning carried out in practice. What is the definition of INTENTIONAL? According to, it is defined as: done with intention or on purpose. In order to do something with intention, there is almost undoubtedly a need to slow down and become more present and tuned into that process. As we know, slowing down is not really something the systems around us are advocating for.  But that doesn’t mean there aren’t folks out there truly taking the meaning of intentionality to heart and very thoughtfully putting it into practice.  I say it in our chat, but I’ll say it again – this week’s guest takes intentionality to the extreme, in the most beautiful way. They also consistently resist the systems around us by working to reimagine their own approaches and value indicators outside of the vacuum as much as possible. For example, they approach fashion and costume design as an art praxis that is rooted in intentionality, sustainability and social equity, and that is guided by three Afro-Indigenous philosophies.  Instead of commodifying it, they have and continue to use fashion as a tool to slowly further discover themself. But what I love about how they communicate is they are not only talking about themself as an individual, but also being a Black Queer person, they are telling stories as a part of a larger community of intersections, brimming with collective histories, present circumstances and collective futures. Quotes & links from the conversation: “The more I matured, the more I realized that external validation was very fickle and fleeting. And so, it came now to — when I look in the mirror, do the clothes that I wear, does my appearance uplift and reverence the divine feminine and the divine masculine that lives within me?” -Denali (25:07) “Because of me and my own intersections, the work that I do is constantly in conversation with who I am and my positionality in society — the areas within which I feel marginalized and also the areas within which I feel liberated. And so, I want to ensure that I’m making space for that and holding the past, the present, and the future within me. And so, being a griot is essentially that — it’s acting as an archive, as a vanguard of sorts, you know protecting and advancing the stories of who I am as an individual but also as a collective body — centering and amplifying the Black femme, shifting the balance to us recognizing that Queer folks, especially those at the intersection of being Black and Queer are diviners historically — reclaiming all of that. And so, being a griot was important to me because like you said, I’m a storyteller and I think it hit me when I realized the vicissitudes I’ve had to survive in my life are to kind of give me and provide me with all of these stories — these stories that again, through the Ubuntu principle are not just for me, but they’re for the collective, they’re for everyone.” -Denali (31:52) “Parable Of The Sower”, book by Octavia E. Butler that Denali references connected to their upcoming project in collaboration with The New Children’s Museum in San Diego, CA “I think we talk a lot about diversity, equity and inclusion, but we don’t talk about belonging. And belonging invites us to think holistically about the space — tactile — what does it feel like? What does it smell like? What does it taste like even when we enter the space, and is it familiar to those of us who have always felt as though we’ve existed outside of these spaces?” -Denali (44:53) “Songs Of The Gullah” — a fashion film by Denali Denali’s Website Follow Studio Asa > Follow Denali on Instagram >
Nov 7, 2023
51 min
Julius Tillery aka the "Puff Daddy Of Cotton" on the need to remix both the perception of the cotton industry and the business model
In episode 311, Kestrel welcomes Julius Tillery, founder of BlackCotton, to the show.  A 5th-generation cotton farmer from North Carolina, Julius founded BlackCotton to help center and uplift the Black community closest to the cotton fields in Northampton County, North Carolina. “There’s so many demons and like bad spirits and bad tropes around cotton and the industry in general, and you know, just coming from the South, and people having these perspectives of cotton production relating to slavery — I felt like people was making these notions about cotton and not really knowing anything about cotton. And I wanted to start educating people about the cotton business, and even myself and how people like myself — how we end up in cotton. Families that work in cotton like, what was their value-in working in this type of production? And I wanted to change that outlook to make it look more stronger and prestigious than what was assumed.” -Julius About 6 episodes back, we had a chat with the brilliant leader and self-proclaimed solutionist Tameka Peoples of Seed2Shirt. This episode was deeply focused on the work Tameka is doing to rebuild equitable and just cotton systems & foster the reclamation of cotton acreage for Black farmers. It’s a really important show that helps provide some of the historical context around cotton in the United States, as well as ways that Tameka and her team are working to reimagine new systems for cotton. When guests lead to new guests, I like to acknowledge that because it’s a beautiful thing. So, thanks to Tameka and our interactions, I was led to this week’s guest – Julius Tillery. This week’s guest was raised amongst cotton fields – growing the fiber is something that runs deep throughout his ancestry. As a 5th generation cotton farmer, he has followed in the footsteps of generations before, but – with a twist.   Known to many as the Puff Daddy of Cotton, he has approached the cotton industry with a focus on remixing what the business looks like today. As a young person, he saw the imminent need to rebrand cotton, and to help expand the narrative around the fiber away from the harmful alignment it often has with simply being a poor man’s crop.   Julius shares more about how he’s reimagining what a cotton farmer’s business model can look like today, how he’s creating alternative revenue streams, he reveals some of the financial challenges farmers face, and tells us how he was able to actually turn fiber from his family’s plants into fashion. Quotes & links from the conversation: “And I think that’s what really makes us to the sustainability component of clothing and sustainable world in general — is this is actually real stuff that comes off a real farm — and I make it culturally and I make it about environmental where it’s coming from a Black community from Black people that’s growing cotton in an area, in a time period that we used to be oppressed by this crop, but actually now we’re trying to control it and make it something that we can be proud of and uplifting our community. I hope that in my community I stand as a symbol of pride and of strength, being a farmer, instead of somebody who was oppressed.” -Julius (10:22) “What I’m doing with my farm is trying to show pride in being a farmer, and that’s moreso than just culturally — that’s just all of the industry and environmentalism. Like, we have to have more respect for the resources that we create with our planet, so that we don’t waste them, so that we don’t have to have bad resources come back to us. I’m really into like — why are we importing so many products when people need jobs here in America, people need jobs here in the Western Hemisphere — how can we connect dots so we don’t have to ship stuff all across the world?” -Julius (15:22) “Cultivating distress: cotton, caste and farmer suicides in India”, research article that highlights the distressing statistics around cotton farmers and suicide (something that Kestrel brings up on the show) — “Nearly 4,00,000 farmers committed suicide in India between 1995 and 2018. This translates into approximately 48 suicides every day.” “I feel like it’s important that as much as possible, we find ways to support sustainable so there’s a reason for it to be in the marketplace.” -Julius (19:27) “And that’s the only way we gonna be sustainable is these big companies see purpose in dealing with such small companies like myself. I hope that things can change but you know, I’m really being real about who we are in regards to what’s the culture of the industry we in. Cause I’m so much smaller than the cotton farmers I’m around but that allows me to make decisions and be someone who can think more efficiently and more lean.” -Julius (20:05) “With urban agriculture and the growth of farmer’s markets all across the country, I believe there’s people seeing the value and worth of growing their own foods and products. So there’s so many people that want to learn to grow their own food and products. So many people want to learn about the business of foods and products. I believe there’s new energy around agriculture and it’s a constantly growing industry right now. And I think that the way our education system has been set up for many years, and even right now — it’s set up to disadvantage agriculture, like it’s telling you not to go into it. Like our college prepatories teaching you to be a doctor, a lawyer, some type of high white-collar job / professional, but I think there’s a lot of things in pop culture, I believe there’s a lot of living arrangements right now that’s bringing new energy to people that grow outdoors. The new look of a farmer is a lot more updated than 30, 40 years ago. You know, farmers are aging, but then there’s young farmers coming in that’s using the internet and really out here networking and connecting, and so there’s a tide turning.” -Julius (30:15) “I like to compare myself as an ant to the whole cotton industry, the cotton jungle. Ants make mounds, and before long, there’s more mounds than you can count.” -Julius (32:16) “Rewriting The Story Of Cotton” in Our State  “Meet The Puff Daddy Of Cotton”, Human Footprint episode on PBS that features Julius BlackCotton Website Follow BlackCotton on Facebook > Follow BlackCotton on Instagram >
Oct 30, 2023
35 min
Cassandra Pintro of Consumption Project on welcoming her community to challenge their buying habits and question what is *enough*
In episode 310, Kestrel and Natalie welcome Cassandra Pintro, the founder of The Consumption Project, to the show. With a focus on making impact cool, The Consumption Project serves as a catalyst for educating folks about the impact of their buying habits and nurturing a collective mindset that values quality, longevity, and the environment. “So, it was — how do I find myself in this space and how do I make space that opens up a door for other people to feel comfortable, and you’re starting from a place that is kind of like a blank slate. And I really felt that sustainability was the right vehicle to tell that story and really get back to basics if you will, cause that is really what, in my mind, consumption is about — it’s about people telling you what you need to have vs what you actually need to have or what you might even want for yourself vs what you’re thinking you want for yourself.” -Cassandra You have probably heard us talk about consumption on the show – it tends to be a recurring theme that weaves its way into the majority of our conversions, in one way or another. While there are so many issues contributing to fashion’s inequitable systems, consumption (fueled by overproduction) is a very significant piece of the overarching puzzle.  And while it may not always feel this way – our consumption is something that we actually have some sort of control over. Do you feel like you are tuned into your consumption habits? Are you aware of what you buy and why you buy it? Do you regularly question what is *enough* for you?  Maybe some of these resonate, or maybe you haven’t asked yourself these questions before. Either way, we all have more work to do when it comes to tuning into our buying behaviors. Considering the capitalistic world that we live in, where more is regularly touted as the best option, it can be challenging to turn off all the pro-consumption marketing noise around us, constantly telling us that we need to buy something else to be better.  This week’s guest realized that she wanted to challenge herself to be ok with what she already has – to embrace what was currently in her closet as enough. As an associate production manager at a fashion publication – one many would say is the holy grail of fashion magazines — her decision to stop consuming fashion items for a year felt nothing less than iconic. Leading by example, this week’s guest decided to open up her personal consumption journey and welcome others in, to join her in the process. She created a safe space where folks are opening up about the oxymoronic realities of their unique journeys. The honest dialogue she’s cultivating allows us to feel like we’re a part of something bigger, yet without the need to performatively appear perfect. Because when you’re grappling with consumption, failure of some sort is expected and should be embraced as an educational tool, not defeat.  Quotes & links from the conversation: “I felt like I couldn’t keep going down that path without challenging the space that I’m in, and it was a really big part of the early mission of Consumption Project — there were a couple different things that were really important to me, but one of them being that it needed to feel like something that was easy and accessible (accessibility is huge to me), it needed to feel like something that people could do unconsciously without it feeling like they are a climate expert, which is also really important for me as well. I really wanted to do something that didn’t position me in a place for people to think that that’s what I was, because I feel like that’s unfair to people who are actively in this space and have been in it a lot longer and know numbers and statistics a lot more than I do. And I really wanted to do something that felt like it was talking to my community, first and foremost — my friends — and saying ok, if I’m at step 3 and you’re at step 0 or 1, maybe I can at least just hold your hand and be a vehicle to making you think a little bit more consciously.” -Cassandra (16:35) “I’m not perfect at it yet, it’s a very new thing. And I think the thing that I was most willing to do with Consumption Project is fail or get it wrong out loud and in real time with my audience and showing them that if I, somebody who works in a place that is considered almost an authority of our industry — 1) if I can gain their support to even talk about this initiative that I’m trying to do, that’s incredible and that’s a step forward and then 2) while I still am somebody existing in that space, if I can fail in front of people, I think it gives them a little bit more space to feel like they can too.” -Cassandra (37:04) “Why I (a Fashion-Lover) Am Giving Up Fashion — For Now”, article by Cassandra in Vogue Consumption Project Website Follow The Consumption Project on Instagram > Follow Cassandra on Instagram >
Oct 24, 2023
57 min
Jeanell English on navigating the pressure to project a certain image in business & across climate spaces and balancing the worlds of activists & execs as a leader in impact
In episode 309, Kestrel welcomes Jeanell English, the founder and CEO of ELIZABETH, to the show. An experienced facilitator and people operations leader, Jeanell has worked in an array of roles, most recently as the Executive Vice President of Impact and Inclusion at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, before she dove fully into her own company, ELIZABETH. “Because the reality is — you’re never gonna win everything you aim to win. It’s not really a competition, it’s about progress. And it’s so easy to be distracted because you’re gonna have people saying: you’re not doing enough, you’re not going fast enough, you’re not going hard enough. You’re gonna hear people saying: you’re doing too much, you’re too hard. So you’re really in this challenging intersection. So, for me, establishing very clear goals at the beginning of any role that I take on is so important because that becomes my North Star, my guiding light, the thing that grounds me and keeps me focused.”  -Jeanell What we wear is one way we say something to the world. Each day, we wake up, put on an outfit and step outside into various spaces. The act of dressing, in and of itself, can be an important avenue to express ourselves.  At the same time, we operate within a world that is full of expectations that have been constructed over time, and entrenched in power dynamics. Take for example – executive spaces. You have to *look the part*, right? And don’t forget – that usually comes at a high cost. Not only does clothing and appearance play a strong role in these environments, but often, there is an assumption that leaders must act a certain way as well – project a specific persona and showcase their *power position* in how they interact with coworkers. Now let’s add another layer. Imagine you work as an Executive in Impact, Diversity, Equity, Climate or Sustainability. You’re in a role with the understanding of the imminent need to dismantle systems of power as a part of the work – but you’re operating within some sort of hierarchical structure at the same time.  And don’t forget the tension of navigating the worlds of activists and executives, as someone working in these fields. How can you satisfy both sides? Are you questioning what this conversation has to do with sustainability and fashion? For starters – the pressure to uphold a specific *image* through the way we dress or act in executive spaces is rooted in inequity. Having to visually showcase that you belong, based on the clothing you wear, is an issue of accessibility. This week’s guest has extensive experience navigating so many of these intersections – and working for notable organizations like The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Creating change is challenging, but learning from folks like her who are navigating these intersections is key to reimagining creative ways to intentionally move forward. Quotes & links from the conversation: “Leading with kindness and respect and curiosity is one of the ways to disarm someone who might be coming to a conversation from a place of defensiveness or wanting to protect legacy, because you’re not coming to attack, you’re coming to understand, to question, to have a conversation, which can be just as effective at dismantling these systems of power. Because you’ve eliminated this feeling, this tension that is underlying this conversation that really is about change.” -Jeanell (23:52) “I cannot value inclusion and equity and accessibility if I don’t model it in my own leadership behavior — that’s always been incredibly important to me and for me. And I’ve seen and had the honor of working with great leaders who have modeled that for me.” -Jeanell (28:53) “The reality is someone is always going to have an issue with the way that you’re approaching things — it goes back to what I was talking about and being in this intersection of really vocal, vocal, hugely well respected advocates pushing things forward in a very big way and executives who are satisfying sometimes different needs. They each have different values that are driving them on a day to day. And I think you can get lost in trying to assimilate and align your values with the different parties. When again, what is your North Star? What’s your guiding light? What are the goals that you have set out? And of course, you might flex and you might learn from either side along the way and that informs your path forward, but needing to satisfy or having that innate feeling that you have to satisfy is part of the issue of us moving things forward. I sit in the space of progress, again — progress not perfection.” -Jeanell (32:36) ELIZABETH Website Follow Jeanell on Instagram >
Oct 17, 2023
47 min
Muchaneta Ten Napel on utilizing tech as a tool to change how fashion does business, not a crutch that will *save us all* & preparing for the fashion policy changes that are on the horizon
In episode 308, Kestrel welcomes Muchaneta Ten Napel, the founder of Shape Innovate and, to the show. As a fashion economist, a lecturer, a writer, a consultant and the founder of Shape Innovate and, Muchaneta is powering change through a multifaceted approach.  “To many people, today, to be sustainable is a way of draining money out of your company — it’s not a money-making initiative. And that’s the kind of thoughts that I would like to really change. Because for me, that merger of fashion and technology is growing and changing. It’s going beyond the wearable tech that we all were kind of excited about, and all the different devices. It’s now the idea of using innovation to make a social impact and to problem solve when it comes to sustainability — that’s where technology is now.”  -Muchaneta Fashion’s obsession with technology is something we’ve spoken about before – there’s this sentiment that often permeates the space, hyping tech to be some sort of avenue that will serendipitously save us all from the climate crisis. From investors to the media, tech is often held up on a pedestal, and treated as though it’s going to be the reason or the way we change fashion for the better.  From my lens, there’s no golden ticket – we need so many avenues and approaches – you know, we need regulatory change and we need corporate change, and we need individual change and collective advocacy.  And as we’ve talked about before – there are so many important reasons to not only look into the future, but also to look back into history and culture. For example, we can learn so much from Indigenous practices – from farming techniques to dyeing approaches and beyond. And when it comes to tech today, more and more information is coming out that highlights the complications that can come with these new innovations, from an equity lens – I think of some of the conversations around AI connected to the *stealing* of art, or the way some brands have used AI to generate so-called diverse models, instead of actually hiring and paying Black and Brown Indigenous models.  There’s a lot there. This week’s guest launched one of the early platforms dedicated to exploring the intersections of fashion and tech back in 2015, so she clearly has an affinity for exploring what technology can offer the fashion space. At the same time, she doesn’t buy into this sentiment that *tech will save us all* – instead, she thinks of it as one of many tools that are necessary to address fashion’s inequitable systems. This week’s episode goes down an array of tangents connected to fashion – from technology to policy to media, we’re getting into some of the important reasons that the future of fashion is intrinsically multifaceted. Quotes & links from the conversation: “We need to stop using innovation as a marketing tool — because I feel sometimes the fashion industry hasn’t got the ability to commit to the idea of innovation and push it forward so everyone can reap the benefits of technology but they’re very keen to use it as a marketing ploy to push forward an idea, a thought, an experience. And the problem I have with that is that they don’t commit to it — it’s a moment and I feel like it cheapens the technology, it makes people not take it as seriously as they could do. The view of what technology is to fashion is I guess muddied by the way it’s used as a marketing tool.” -Muchaneta (14:49) “The fashion industry is very me focused, rather than we focused — so how can we as an industry realize the enemy of my enemy is my friend, and work together for a common goal?” -Muchaneta (16:07) “If we are planting these great ideas in bad soil and expecting it to flourish, well, of course we’re going to fail. So, when it comes to being sustainable as a brand, you need to have it in your DNA, it needs to be part of your strategy in order for it to flourish.” -Muchaneta (17:45) “You can’t blame ignorance and lack of knowledge on your bad decisions because the information is there — it’s a question of whether you choose to become a catalyst for change or you choose to just continue trading like we’re back in 1996.” -Muchaneta (26:00) “Technology is not something that is going to save us — far from that — but what it will do — is make it easier for us to save ourselves.” -Muchaneta (29:03) “What we’re trying to use with technology — we’re not trying to take away the creativity of fashion — we’re trying to change how fashion does business.” -Muchaneta (31:00) Shape Innovate Website Website Culture and Creative Industries (CCI) Taskforce UN Climate Change Global Innovation Hub (for those who want to stay ahead of the coming changes) Muchaneta’s LinkedIn Follow Shape Innvovate on Instagram > Follow on Instagram >
Oct 10, 2023
1 hr 4 min
*Breaking It Down* with Rachel Arthur, lead author of The Sustainable Fashion Communication Playbook, an actionable guide co-published by UNEP and UN Climate Change
In episode 307, Kestrel welcomes Rachel Arthur, a strategist, journalist, and the Advocacy Lead for Sustainable Fashion at the United Nations Environment Programme, to the show. Rachel is the lead author of The Sustainable Fashion Communication Playbook, which was published earlier this year by the United Nations Environment Programme and the UN Climate Change Fashion Charter. “Communicators themselves, on a couple of levels, have had the ability to participate and to contribute I think is what I’m looking for here, and that is the first of all. But they themselves, by being communicators, have a skill set that is missing in the sustainability space, which is around this notion of making something desirable, creative — making people fall in love with things. That is fundamentally what fashion does, and we need to redirect it toward sustainability.” -Rachel Are you a communicator in the fashion space? Whether it’s through your work or everyday life, communicating about sustainability and fashion can be challenging and complex.  This week’s guest is the lead author of a new framework for fashion communicators – it’s called the Sustainable Fashion Communication Playbook, and it’s a deep dive into why we must all play a role in shifting the narrative.  The Playbook provides actionable steps communicators can take including: establishing a foundation with verifiable information, acknowledging that fashion is integral in building culture, and highlighting the role storytellers must play in advocating for change. We address head-on one of fashion’s biggest issues today – misinformation. As the report highlights, A 2020 study by the European Commission found 53.3% of environmental claims communicated in the EU at large were vague, misleading or unfounded. And a fashion specific report by Changing Markets from 2021 finds that 60% of sustainability claims by European fashion giants are “unsubstantiated” and “misleading”. The Playbook recommends that one way communicators can break the cycle of misinformation is by leading with science. While this is absolutely necessary, I regularly hear frustrations over the lack of accessible scientific data and research available in the fashion space. We explore this tension as well. Telling stories is powerful and can influence change. Quotes & links from the conversation: “So, I don’t think that there is a silver bullet here — there isn’t the single answer in the playbook, but the intention is to open up this discussion and put it on the table and importantly say that marketers, communicators, anybody in that sort of job function, which basically means that they spend time communicating with consumers in some capacity, has a role that they can play here to help towards change.” -Rachel (16:58) The Sustainable Fashion Communication Playbook Report The Sustainable Fashion Communication Playbook Interactive FashMash, global community Rachel helped cofound  Rachel’s LinkedIn Follow Rachel on Instagram >
Sep 26, 2023
48 min
Tameka Peoples of Seed2Shirt on rebuilding equitable + just cotton systems & fostering the reclamation of cotton acreage for Black farmers
In episode 306, Kestrel welcomes Tameka Peoples, the founder and CEO of Seed2Shirt, to the show. A Black-woman-owned vertically integrated ethical apparel production & boutique cotton merchant firm, Seed2Shirt is focused on rebuilding equitable systems and institutions. “You’re seeing laws put into place like the 1862 Homestead Act where there were millions of acres of land just given to white families. And Black people were at the same time, being burned out of their communities. What I mean by that is — there’s elements to this thing that we call fashion — that’s connected to raw commodity that’s connected to land that is a part of the blood, sweat and tears that Black people have put and poured into this economy and poured into this country.” -Tameka When we look back at agriculture in the United States, a lot of the origins of farming in this country were built on an extractive, harmful, and extremely damaging history. So much was stolen and stripped – from lives to land to livelihoods.  We don’t talk enough in the fashion industry about its true origins – about who helped build the cotton industry – a textile that has been deemed and marketed as: *the fabric of our lives*.  From 1765 to 1861, during the years of Chattel Slavery, $528 billion dollars worth of cotton were farmed – mind you, this happened with the use of enslaved labor. Fast forward through layers and layers of other significant historical moments to where we are today. While the cotton industry in the United States was literally grown by Black folks, today – the numbers say there are less than 1% Black Cotton Farmers. This week’s guest understands so much depth of this history – and when she discovered she couldn’t buy a t-shirt made by Black folks using cotton farmed by Black folks, she decided she had to make one.  This was the seed that has continued to grow and flourish into what she is doing today – while many may call it conscious fashion, for her – it’s so much more than that. As a self-proclaimed solutionist, she’s rebuilding equitable systems and institutions, with intention and care, while supporting Black farmers along the way. Quotes & links from the conversation: “Yes, they love Black images and Black body and Black fashion and they use us to sell to people for industry. But what part of that industry do we own and control?” -Tameka (9:45) “You’re seeing laws put into place like the 1862 Homestead Act where there were millions of acres of land just given to white families. And Black people were at the same time, being burned out of their communities. What I mean by that is — there’s elements to this thing that we call fashion — that’s connected to raw commodity that’s connected to land that is a part of the blood, sweat and tears that Black people have put and poured into this economy and poured into this country. So, we are building back land elements, we’re building back equity for Black cotton farmers, we’re building an institution that portions of it we control that they can plug into, and then, we’re part of larger institutions that allow farmers that are in this space allow their cotton to move through.” (14:29) -Tameka “Everyone has a responsibility to figure out what their role is in doing their part. You walk around anywhere and there’s a recycling bin and they’re encouraging — hey, if that’s a plastic bottle, or if that’s paper or cardboard, put it here. So, everyone plays a role — we believe our programs really can change the world for the better.” (21:18) -Tameka “This is about bringing back livelihood, honor and justice into Black farming, Black cotton farming, Black production, and we can’t wait for anyone else to do it for us.” (38:04) -Tameka Bridgeforth Family Farms, Black owned & operated farm since 1877 (Seed2Shirt partner) Donate to Seed2Shirt’s Farmer Enrichment Program > Seed2Shirt Events Upcoming Farm Tours Seed2Shirt Website Follow Seed2Shirt on Instagram >
Sep 19, 2023
46 min
Lisa Diegel, Global Sustainability Director, on Faherty's Native Initiatives, what mutually beneficial relationships can look like in practice, and the nuanced ways brands must take responsibility for the products they put out into the world
In episode 305, Kestrel welcomes Lisa Diegel, the Global Sustainability Director at Faherty, to the show. A family business, Faherty is focused on making high quality clothing. “They knew they wanted to do things differently and not follow that conventional way of take > make > waste in the fashion industry. They wanted to build a feel-good brand. And I think to do that, you need to be accountable and you need to take responsibility for the products you put out into the world.” -Lisa As we’ve explored on past episodes, the fashion industry has a deep history of appropriating and stealing ideas and designs. Our guest Manpreet Kaur Kalra, back on episode 203, said it so potently –  “Fashion has been built on appropriation — it has been built on basically, stealing designs and concepts from communities that have been historically marginalized, and basically, reframing them to be quote unquote minimalist or really ethnic or boho chic.” This week’s guest (who is of First Nations heritage) works with a company that used to be one of those so-called appropriating offenders. And this is something they acknowledge blatantly on their website, stating – “For years, the fashion industry has exploited and appropriated Native prints — and for years, so did Faherty. Now that we know better, we must do better.” This is not something you typically see a fashion brand acknowledge in such an upfront way to their shoppers. It feels like an important and meaningful step forward in healing some of the extensive damage that comes from these extractive histories. You may be asking – what does *doing better* mean in practice to Faherty? To start, it means modeling a mutually beneficial relationship with Native and Indigenous artists, it means respecting ancestry, land, community and stories. And it means doing a lot of listening and a lot of learning. With the role of Global Sustainability Director, this week’s guest has a lot on her plate – but she’s also very tuned into the importance of slowing down in order to be able to continue doing this work.  Quotes & links from the conversation: “So, for me, the appeal really was working for a smaller family-run business. You know, I had been working for large corporations and parent companies for about 15 years. And I felt like in this role, I could build a strategy using the knowledge and the skills that I had acquired over the years, but also be able to be really involved. It’s really nice to be able to Slack or text the cofounders and get an answer immediately without having to go through these corporate tiers of hierarchy and weeks or months of time to get approval on things. And then the cherry on top, as a Native person, as a person with this heritage, I was just so impressed by the Native initiatives and the storytelling that Faherty was doing around these initiates.” -Lisa (12:58) “In practice, it really starts from the very beginning — from the concept meeting — where the team sits down with some of our partners and really talks to them about what do these designs mean to them, what does it mean to their people, what are the stories behind them? And then, they really support how these artists want to be represented in our modern culture without sort of that stereotypical image that maybe a lot of people might think of when they see or hear of Native American culture. I think that is very special and unique.” -Lisa (15:50) “How To Work In Sustainability At A Fashion Brand", article in Fashionista that Kestrel mentions Climate Optimism, book by Zahra Biabani that Kestrel mentions Faherty’s Native Initiatives  Second Wave, Faherty’s new resale platform Faherty Website Follow Faherty on Instagram >
Sep 12, 2023
40 min
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