Q&A WITH MELISSA CANTOR OF ETHICA

Tell me a bit about yourself.

     My name is Melissa Cantor. I'm originally from Tegucigalpa, Honduras (which is part of what sparked my interest in commerce as a tool for international development and positive social impact). I started my career as a magazine editor in Miami; later worked on digital media launches for companies like NBC, AOL and Fox; and most recently spent a couple of years working on web and social content at Tiffany & Co. and L'Oreal.
     I'm the co-founder and editor of Ethica, which I launched with my sister and husband in 2012, as well as an occasional freelance writer whose work has been published by CNN and New York magazine, among others.

What is Ethica?

     Ethica opened its virtual doors in September 2012 with a pioneering proposition: to make it simple and, above all, exciting to support ethical and sustainable fashion. Our brands range from buzzy up-and-comers to industry pioneers to tiny artisan outfits. In 2015, we expanded our selection to include a small selection of change-makers in the world of clean beauty as well.

What does “Sustainable Fashion" mean to you?

     It's timeless, high-quality clothing made with respect for people, the planet and other living beings. On a personal level, for me it's come to mean understanding the story behind a garment and falling in love with that aspect of it, in addition to the way it looks and feels. When I receive a compliment on an ethically made or sustainable item, I always have something I could share about it (though of course I don't always do so!), whether it's the fact that it's made of reclaimed materials, made in one of the few knitwear factories remaining in the U.S., etc. It adds a layer of enjoyment to it for me.
     From an industry perspective, I really like this question because it underscores the fact that ethical and sustainable are broad and subjective terms. From day one at Ethica, we have spelled out on every product page exactly why we consider an item ethical and sustainable, so that the shopper doesn't have to rely on our definition and can make her own decision. We hope that this translates into more empowered and informed consumers all around, not just when they are shopping with us.

Does the sustainable design trend we are currently seeing in fashion reinvigorate your passion for the industry?

     Yes, absolutely. I left my career as a fashion writer to launch Ethica precisely because I no longer wanted to be part of the status quo, and it's very encouraging to see how many people have embraced this movement in the past few years, from all aspects of the industry – you're a great example of this! I love meeting people who are contributing different sets of talents toward this common goal. For me as a writer and communicator, the creative and anthropological aspects of fashion are what have always been appealing, and both of these are magnified in sustainable fashion. There is so much creativity in terms of use of materials, designing for longevity, using commerce to make a positive impact, and so many takeaways when you look at this movement from a social and cultural perspectives. So yes, I'm really encouraged by everything I see, and it's so fulfilling to be able to create awareness about these issues and also offer people a platform where they can turn that knowledge into action.

Do you think an on-trend / contemporary wardrobe is possible, while maintaining our ethics?

     100 percent. Ethics aside, I don't think cheaply made, trend-driven clothing is the foundation of a good wardrobe. Deliberately investing in well-designed, well-made pieces over time is much more likely to lead to a strong wardrobe, so I think ethics and style go hand in hand.
Returning to the idea of story, when you have a personal connection to the things that you purchase, and when your closet is full of things that you want to keep over the years (instead of picking something up and going, "What was I thinking when I bought this?"), your wardrobe becomes an aspect of your personal narrative, and isn't that ultimately what style is?

The average consumer doesn't believe that they have the extra income required to pay the true cost of their clothing. Many seem to believe more sustainable options are too expensive or simply unavailable. How do you respond to this claim?

     I say that supporting ethical and sustainable fashion doesn't have to be a zero-sum game. That creates such a barrier to entry, mentally, and it turns it into something that people will do "someday." If you can't afford to buy ethical and sustainable fashion exclusively, that's ok. But there's surely a step that you can take, like maybe giving up shopping at one fast fashion store. Or buying just some things ethically. I know someone who's very committed to ethical fashion and sustainability, but who makes an exception for shoes because she can't find affordable options. I think that's perfectly reasonable, and it doesn't minimize her support for sustainable brands in other categories. It's about taking the first step, and then the next one, instead of thinking of it as this big, restrictive, expensive lifestyle. The more that you explore the field, the more options you'll find. There are a lot of great, affordable brands out there, along with plenty of sales and secondhand options. 

Is sustainable fashion able to reach everyday consumers who may shop in "fast fashion" now?

     It's certainly available to anyone with an interest in it. The bigger challenge, in my view, is creating that interest. Some people just don't want to engage in these issues, even if you tell them that the fashion industry is nearly as bad as the oil industry, or that a lifetime of wearing formaldehyde-soaked clothes might give them cancer someday. And I understand that, because that's not exactly an uplifting message. That's why good design is so important, because it's a way of attracting people through something positive, and once they have a positive experience, they can hopefully start to outgrow fast fashion.

What does "green living" mean to you? How do you incorporate green living into your life?

     It means to tread lightly, and to try to at least not leave anything worse than I found it–whether that's a person on the other side of the world who is affected by my choices, or whether it's a more direct environmental impact. I've always thought of myself as someone who cares for and about the environment, but giving up single-use plastic and aspiring to zero-waste living in recent years has absolutely blown my mind. I'm not zero-waste yet (or even close), but I work toward these goals every day.
     When people ask me how or where to start on a journey to sustainability, I suggest seeing how long they can go without buying something that's made in China or how long they can do without single-use plastic bottles, bags or straws. It's really eye-opening as to how pervasive these things are.

AN INTERVIEW WITH MIMI KIM OF BIODARA

Mimi Kim is a powerhouse of the organic beauty industry, and the owner/ founder of the skin care line BIODARA. The name Biodara is derived from a melding of different languages meaning: "life, beauty and intelligence."

 
Mimi Kim_biodara
BIODARA is an eco conscious luxury skin care line that perfectly blends modern science with natural, organic bioactive botanicals. These products not only enhance the outer beauty but nourish the skin and body.

Infused with a concentration of powerful anti-inflammatory phytonutrients, essential fatty acids and antioxidants that assist in fighting signs of aging, stimulate cellular turnover and protect against free radical damage. Our nutrient dense formulations deeply penetrate skin’s layers revitalizing your skin and leaving it radiant and refreshed.
— Biodara.com
Biodara_Products

This  line stands out among the many organic products that I have tested over the years for its quality, effectiveness, and affordability. Not only do her products pamper your skin with the best ingredients, but the packaging, formulation, and processing of them are also carried out with the environment in mind... "

"Great care and thought is involved in using only the finest natural, organic and non- GMO ingredients that are free of parabens, chemicals and synthetic fragrance. Absolutely no fillers are added; each ingredient is specially chosen to synergistically work together. To ensure potency and purity, our products are hand blended in small batches and encased in eco-friendly violet glass jars/bottles which shields the active ingredients by blocking out damaging light yet allowing the penetration of stimulating violet and infra red light."

See my interview with Mimi below:

What is your name and how do you describe your company?  

My name is Mimi Kim. My company, BIODARA, is an eco-conscious luxury skincare line that blends modern science with natural, organic bioactive botanicals. These products not only enhance the outer beauty but nourish the skin and body. 

What makes your clay mask stand out from the rest?

Crème de Clay is a  deep pore cleansing clay mask that not only contains therapeutic bentonite clay but roasted bamboo salts that help extract impurities and detoxify the skin while organic sea kelp and ionic trace minerals help soothe and moisturize your face.  Most people who try it say their face feels so refreshed and luminous, like they just had a professional facial.

Do you think a more sustainable is possible affordably?.. Is it able to reach everyday consumers? Most people don't have the extra income to spend on the best ingredients, and seem to believe more sustainable options are too expensive or simply unavailable?  

Absolutely!  When you choose quality, sustainable ingredients, the benefits are long term, not just temporary.  Your body, especially your skin, responds much better to natural ingredients.  What you put on your face/skin affects your whole body, mind and health.  A happy, healthy body, you can’t put a price tag on that.  Also, a little goes a long way.  I would rather use a small amount of healing and beneficial product, than gallons of synthetic, harmful product.  

What does "green living" mean to you? How do you live green?

I view our beautiful earth as a lovely home that we should enjoy and cherish.  I try to treat it with respect and love, trying my best to make conscious choices.  There are so many little ways, but they all together can make a great difference.  Our products are all packaged in reusable violet and amber glass that help shield the active ingredients by blocking out damaging light; synthetic preservatives are avoided which can harm our body and environment.  In our home, we try to use glass, stone or clay instead of plastic.  We try to support our local communities, especially local artisans and farmers.  I love to make/ferment homemade yogurt, water kefir, red wine vinegar, etc.  What is amazing with these natural ingredients, they are designed to be shared.  It’s very economical, healthy and creates a giving spirit!

The Model4greenliving Takeaway:

I have personally tested all of her products, and stand by their quality, ingredients, and effectiveness.  The two products that I love the most include her Crème de Clay Mask and the Immortal Face Mist.

Check out my next post on the best beauty products for the new year, coming this week. And as always thank you for reading!

 


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Renee Peters

Renee Peters is a NYC-based model, blogger, and advocate of mindful, sustainable living. She strives to be a role model by using her platform for positive change. Through her blog, Model4GreenLiving, Peters seeks to reshape the way people think about environmental issues and provide practical tips and everyday actions for readers.  Peters uses social media to promote that same message, as well as one of self-love and body-positivity. She also volunteers, is an environmental activist, and is an avid learner of anything relating to the planet and its health. For booking inquires visit Muse Models NYC or Nomad Management Miami.

A FAT FLUSH WATER RECIPE FOR SUMMER

   Looking for the perfect compliment to your workout routine? Try this recipe for fat flush water!

 

Looking for the perfect compliment to your workout routine? Try this recipe for fat flush water!

      Your body needs enough water everyday to keep hydrated and cleanse itself of unwanted materials. Fat deposits that form on the body can be tough to break down and eliminate, but proper nutrition and exercise can help greatly with this.


     Fat is broken down when the body uses its fat deposits to produce energy. Oftentimes products are leftover from the chemical breakdown of this fat. If the byproducts are not used by the body as energy, they are then considered waste products that need to be removed. 
This is where the role of water comes in.

The Role Of Water
 

     Water is the vehicle used to remove these waste products from the body. The leftover materials from the fat breakdown are then filtered out of your organs by the water that you drink. The water carries the waste to your bladder where it is then expelled from your body through your urine.

How It Works

    Tangerine increases your sensitivity to insulin, stabilizes blood sugar, and increase your fat burning capabilities during exercise. Also high in Vitamin C, grapefruit increases your metabolic energy, burns fat, and increases energy. Cucumber helps you feel more full. Cucumber also reduces bloating and water retention as it is a natural diuretic.! Mint and Spearmint leaves aid in digestion and help the body eliminate fats naturally through the digestive process.

Fat Flush Water Recipe

2 Liters (64 oz.) Purified Water

1 Tangerine, sectioned

1/2 Grapefruit, sliced

1 Cucumber, sliced

4 Peppermint or Spearmint Leaves

Ice, (made from purified water) optional

Mix in a pitcher before bed and drink throughout the entire next day. Please consider using organic produce for this, if it is unavailable to you, thoroughly wash the produce before adding it to the water.

     Please be advised that you still need to exercise for your body to break down the fat. Once it is broken down through exercise,   fat can then be eliminated by the body faster and easier with the help of this water. Proper nutrition also plays a huge role as well.

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     I hope you enjoy the Fat Flush Water Recipe!                                                                                                                                              ...at the very least, this tasty recipe will give you some added nutrients and help you drink more water.

 
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Renee Peters

Renee Peters is a NYC-based model, blogger, and advocate of mindful, sustainable living. She strives to be a role model by using her platform for positive change. Through her blog, Model4GreenLiving, Peters seeks to reshape the way people think about environmental issues and provide practical tips and everyday actions for readers.  Peters uses social media to promote that same message, as well as one of self-love and body-positivity. She also volunteers, is an environmental activist, and is an avid learner of anything relating to the planet and its health. For booking inquires visit Muse Models NYC or Nomad Management Miami.

MAKING THE MAKEUP SWITCH FROM TOXIC TO VEGAN, ORGANIC

     As you all know, I try to be an advocate for green living in every aspect of my life. I am vegan, organic, and sustainable in almost every purchase I make. Up until now however, that has not been true when it comes to my make up. 

 Today I am excited to share with you the first purchase I have made in vegan organic cosmetics. 

RMS BEAUTY 

I was first introduced to RMS by a makeup artist and fellow vegan on a photoshoot here in NY. She has so much experience in the industry and knows that their products really work. 

My question was are they practical and long lasting in every day life? I know they look great on camera, but will they do the  job for me throughout the day? I have become so accustomed to my more Toxic but but long-lasting eye liners and mascaras that I am a bit skeptical when it comes to organics' staying power.

I purchased the RMS living luminizer, mascara, and karma eye liner/ cream shadow.

I really want to make the switch to an organic and vegan, non-toxic makeup. I have high hopes for my RMS makeup and will keep you all posted after testing out their wearability and staying power on myself. 

Check out my PRODUCT REVIEW SECTION to see my review of the RMS beauty products mentioned above!

 


Comment

Renee Peters

Renee Peters is a NYC-based model, blogger, and advocate of mindful, sustainable living. She strives to be a role model by using her platform for positive change. Through her blog, Model4GreenLiving, Peters seeks to reshape the way people think about environmental issues and provide practical tips and everyday actions for readers.  Peters uses social media to promote that same message, as well as one of self-love and body-positivity. She also volunteers, is an environmental activist, and is an avid learner of anything relating to the planet and its health. For booking inquires visit Muse Models NYC or Nomad Management Miami.