“The most sustainable way to shop is buying second hand, which is cheaper than Forever 21 most of the time.” Chatting to Natalie, founder of Sustainably Chic, really put our fashion fervor in perspective. Launched in 2014 in Charleston, SC, Sustainably Chic is quickly becoming the conscious consumer’s go-to blog and e-shop for all things fashion and beauty. Organic, vegan beauty products and eco jewelry, for instance. “Shop positive, shop small, shop sustainably,” is its motto. Sounds cool. But since phrases like “sustainable” and “conscious consumer” are so casually thrown about these days—regardless of their actual meaning—we decided to pick Natalie’s brain and get to the bottom of what a sustainable life and wardrobe really looks like.
When you were a kid, who was your female role model? (Brenda from Beverly Hills 90210 is a totally legit answer, btw.)
Sarah Brightman—I loved theatre and opera as a kid, and her voice was such an inspiration to me.
What was your first job out of high school?
I worked for my mom. She owned a sewing machine store and sold art supplies, fabrics, and notions. I taught children aged nine to 16 how to sew.
Did you ever imagine you’d be doing what you’re doing today?
Absolutely not. Especially since ‘sustainability’ wasn’t even in my vocab.
When did you first go sustainable and why?
In college, I became tired of all the brands we studied, and hated how they conducted business. I read up a lot about eco-friendly fashion and dedicated my projects to the more friendly side of fashion. My last year, I took a course on sustainability, and learned there was so much more than just the environmental issues.
If Hollywood was making a movie about you and your life, and you got to cast the actress who’d play you, who would that be and why?
Can I play it?! Haha. I always wanted to be an actress growing up, so why not? I don’t follow this actress, but I’m told I remind people of Lea Michelle—with bangs, Zooey Deschanel. I’d be happy with either one 😉
Without thinking too hard about it, who’s your favorite sustainable fashion designer?
This IS hard! I have a ton, but today, we will say KUI.
Are non-sustainable designers today viewed as totally 2005? Will they soon become extinct or should we just kill them? (Okay, joke.)
In my opinion, sure, they are totally 2005! Unfortunately, it isn’t seen that way by the majority. Therefore, extinction is not in the near future.
Can going sustainable not burst the budget? If so, please give us some tips.
Total myth about sustainable clothing hurting your wallet. Yes, there are some very expensive lines, but there are a ton of affordable ones, too, like Stormie Dreams. To me, it’s bull when people talk about fast fashion being better for everyone’s wallet. Do you see how big their bags are when they leave the store? Instead of buying one well-made, ethical piece of clothing, they buy 10 cheap shirts made by people barley feeding their children. I hear it ALL the time by girls around me. I know how big their closets are… By the way, the most sustainable way to shop is buying second hand, which is cheaper than Forever 21 most of the time.
What does a non-sustainable, cheat night look like for you? (Even you must have them from time to time…)
I eat turkey tacos like once or twice a month—sorry vegans! 😛 Also, my Swiss chocolate is individually wrapped and I like a good bubble bath once in a while.
If you had to evacuate your home or office immediately and could pack just five items into your purse, what would they be?
It will have to be a big purse: my computer, camera, phone, sewing machine, and my kitty, Tickles. Honestly, my life would be entirely unsustainable without those items because they help my personal economy. Sustainably Chic would be shut down for quite some time without them!
How do you cheer yourself up on a “want-to-stay-in-bed-all-day” kinda day?
I like to go for a run. It really helps clear my mind, and always puts me in a better mood.
When was the last time you let out a belly laugh?
I saw a few girlfriends the other night and we had some god awful retail and co-worker stories. Retail can really suck, so it’s nice to laugh about all the terrible stuff we deal with. (I work part time in retail still!)
Did Sustainably Chic start out as a hobby or with a business plan?
Total hobby. After a few months, I realized—woah, this can really go somewhere.
Any tips on business plans? (They freak the hell out of us right-brainers.)
Leave room for change. Everyday I’m tweaking something about my business and that changes the future.
What’s the thing you’re the most excited about this year?
Meeting new brands and strengthening relationships with brands I’ve worked with before. Makes me so excited to think more and more people are passionate about sustainable fashion and beauty.
Best advice for anyone starting out or thinking about starting a blog?
It takes a lot more time than you think, so have patience! Things don’t happen overnight, and there will be a ton of days you want to scream. Don’t ever let anyone take advantage of you, and do things at your own pace so you’re comfortable.
What do you wanna be when you grow up?
I feel like I’m doing it now 🙂 I’ve finally found peace in the direction I’m taking. Of course, I want to expand and learn new things, but for now, I couldn’t be happier with my work.
Photography courtesy of sustainably-chic.com.