What's your personal advocacy?
Education and empowerment. Being born and raised in the Philippines, from a young age, I saw firsthand just how vital education is, not just on a personal level but on a social level. The sad reality is that not everyone has access not only to quality education but to education period. It's the key that can open doors and is also the foundation of so many social issues we face.
When it comes to sustainability, education is also such a huge aspect because when we know better, we can do better. That's why for us at Relevé Fashion, we feel it's so important to empower our community with informed choices. We also want everyone to recognise that as individuals, we have the power to make a positive difference, even from our simple every day actions, including what we choose to buy and the brands we choose to support.
What was the turning point that first got you interested in it?
I'm fortunate that I had a good education from a school and university that considered our social awareness and responsibility aside from all the other things we learned.Growing up in a developing country, you realise very early on that even if you don't experience the daily struggles of so many in the country, you cannot be indifferent to them. Being fortunate to travel from a young age, it also became clear that these struggles should not be the status quo.
In terms of sustainability and sustainable fashion in particular, I studied design in NYC and while we learned so much, looking back, it astounds me how we barely touched the surface of sustainable fashion - and this was less than 10 years ago.It wasn't until I was working in the industry that my eyes were opened to the vast waste and the massive carbon footprint we were leaving. Then, as I tried to learn more about what brands were doing behind the scenes in terms of their design and production, I realised that not enough was being shared. The more research I did, the more shocked I became but also, the more determined I became. I couldn't fathom how something I've always loved could be so destructive, so damaging and exploitative. I became committed to doing what I can to elevate the fashion experience into a form of positive social action.
How do you live it out daily?
One of the great things about working at Relevé Fashion is that every single day, we're working to make a positive difference. We're working to raise awareness and empower, not only our customers but also our extended communities. From the ethical designers we work with to the nonprofits we support and the organisations we collaborate with, we're all grounded on purpose and our shared values. We're all striving to empower and care for our communities, whether it's through supporting education, providing employment opportunities or helping protect our environment.
The values I hold remain true in and out of work, there's really no distinction. I think it's important to have a sense of perspective. While we all face daily challenges, most of them won't matter in 5 years. I always try to remember how fortunate I am. My family and friends are all safe and healthy - I really can't complain, especially given the global situation. That said, it's important to care for ourselves, for each other and those around us, including our things. That can mean supporting a friend's new business, checking in on family, wearing a mask or even prolonging the lifespan of our clothes. At Relevé Fashion, we say loved clothes last, the same is certainly true for the relationships we have.
Words to live by
There are many wise words that come to mind but among those I always remember are "Let the beauty of what you love be what you do." and "Be kind for everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about."
Personal definition of sustainability
It's being conscious that our individual actions have a direct impact on the world around us. It's about caring for those beyond ourselves and living our lives with that consideration - thinking of not only what's good for us but what's good for other people and good for our planet. It's admittedly not always easy or convenient but it is our collective responsibility because we're all interconnected. The pandemic has made that abundantly clear.
Tips for individuals who want to start adopting a more sustainable lifestyle
Baby steps are better than none! I know it can be overwhelming when we consider sustainability as a whole and think of climate change and social well-being. However, if you focus on one aspect of your lifestyle and what personally resonates with you - whether it be recycling, planting trees, riding a bike, buying local, wearing sustainable fashion, using clean beauty products or going vegan - you can start from there and build on that. None of us can be 100% sustainable but if 100% of us just consciously make an effort, we can make a huge impact. As the saying goes, we shouldn't let what we can't do discourage us from doing what we can.