Saiint reflection on ethical buying habits, ethical dreams and Ka Pa Tee!

So, it has been over two years since my sister (Diana) and I (Katie) launched the Saiint blog and it has been a real learning experience for us. We set off with so many ideas and dreams and wishes around what we wanted to achieve with Saiint and as time has gone on things have evolved quite a lot. Our first reason for existence in the ethical fashion space was due to the exposure Diana had as a fashion  and textile designer and buyer and the realisation through her career that fashion can be beautiful and expressive, but can also be unjust and downright evil! This is not to say that every brand she worked for displayed unjust practices, but through her connection with the industry we both felt more inclined to find out what was really going on in this multi-billion dollar industry.

Our first dream was to uncover all the ethical brands we could find and stick them on a long excel list that we could review, shop from and share with our readers. We started to realise just how freakin difficult it was to find these lovely brands and when you did, shipping and ordering were not the smoothest process on the planet. This lead us to realise how there was a real lack of infrastructure for buyers to buy online (or in store) from one platform stocking multiple brands. So we thought….let’s start a multi-brand website! 🙂 Quite a big mission and one that we started to notice was something other bright sparks had their sights set on which to be honest was the best news ever! Multi-brand ethical fashion websites have started to pop up all over the place such as Reve en Vert, The Good Place and Sheer Apparel to name a few….there really are more popping up all the time 🙂  That may well still be one of our future dreams, but for now we’re super happy to see easier ways to buy ethical fashion popping up here and there. Another idea was to start our own ethical brand which is still something we are exploring and one where we could leverage Diana’s previous experience of having her own fashion brand some years ago. Now, what we really didn’t plan or anticipate was the idea of an organic tea cafe! That came as a surprise and not directly linked to ethical fashion, but definitely linked to our growing awareness of what we wear and what we put into (and indeed on to) our bodies. Who would have thought just 2 years down the line, Diana and her partner would be opening THE cutest organic tea cafe in Cape Town (arguably in the world! Lol), called Ka Pa Tee (website coming soon!). With 36 different organic teas to choose from, you really can’t go wrong. In addition to the tea, they also stock loads of gorgeous local South African homeware brands and sell vegan treats to have with your tea…’s simply incredible!  I’m ridiculously proud at how wonderful this tea cafe is! 🙂 It’s all part of a lifestyle that we’re adapting to which is one that is aware of the conscious world in many shapes and forms.

As for me, I remain in the corporate world, climbing up the ladder and I have to say am super proud of myself with how much I have achieved. For some time, I felt somewhat embarrassed about being in the corporate work and felt that in many ways it goes against the ethos of our blog (and it does in some ways), but in many more ways, it actually empowers me to be a better ethical citizen. For one I am part of a world where my voice can travel and I can have influence on real people’s lives. I can use my voice to speak at events about diversity and inclusion or inspire young people to take control of their careers, to think openly and to question corporations on their CSR strategies. I can bring my love for ethics into the corporate world. In addition, I can actually afford to buy ethical fashion, because let’s face it, it’s not always that cheap! I do of course belive we can all buy less and choose well so it’s worth the extra penny.  So, despite my concerns, I am firmly holding onto my love for conscious fashion and overall, most definitely making far more conscious fashion choices.

I can safely say around 75% of my wardrobe is now ethical, with a mix of new items I have purchased from brands we have blogged about and a whole bunch of clothes I have literally held onto for up to 15 years! Not even kidding, I have some really lovely old clothes that shockingly still fit me! LOL 🙂 Most purchases I have made have been well thought out and are items that I believe are fair, made from the ‘right’ fabrics and are built to last…..I really genuinely don’t care about hot off the press fashion, keeping up with seasonal trends and wearing the same thing 100 times…in fact, I sure hope what I buy will last over 100 wears otherwise I want a refund! 😉  The one thing that I have struggled with quite a lot is ethical footwear! That is super tricky I think or maybe I just haven’t been looking hard enough. To be honest I don’t buy shoes that often, so most are from before my ethical times, but in my opinion there are very few truly fun ethical shoe brands out there are the moment, but I will keep focusing on this going forwards (boots in particular are tough to find). Although I haven’t purchased from Nisolo or Beyond Skin shoes yet, the reviews are pretty good and I’ll hit them up soon me thinks. I have particularly enjoyed ethical undies because they are so close to your skin that you somehow feel sooooo much better in them knowing you are chemical-free where it matters most! Lol Woron are my absolute favs! They feel great, they are well made and I just love the founders…..the people behind the brands have a big positive impact on both Diana and I when making conscious cjoices! Amaella have also recently won my heart too!

Other lovely brands I have found myself buying from are People Tree (a pioneer of course, hello!), Monkee Genes, Reformation, Deborah Campbell and The Summer House. Reformation in particular has been great, although shipping to the UK is still a tad tricky/pricey, but worth the effort if you know what you want. Other brands that you may have noticed have driven us insanely happy are One Of Each, Castellano and Ally Bee Knitwear. Not to mention the stunning designs from Ille De Cocos…….the picture we put on insta with the jumper I bought from this lovely brand was one of our most liked photos! Not that it’s about the likes,,,,,but it kind of is! 😉  There are some brands I still don’t own a piece from, but when it comes to re-stocking time I will most definitely be hitting up Kitty Ferreira (do you remember the wonderful collab we did with Val?!), Raven and Lilly and of course the simply gorgeous Abury!  Having written this list, it is important to mention that I have met almost all of the owners of these brands….I feel connected to them, I feel loyal to them and I feel that I trust them! I really am a people-person so maybe this is why this is important to me, but it feels so good and it’s not because I’ve met the owners that I buy from them, it’s because I LOVE their fashion! I got engaged in Feb this year and my fiancé and I really didn’t spend that long sourcing the ring, we went straight to a local London jeweller in Exmouth Market called EC One and they made me a gorgeous ring in the way we wanted and we even met the jeweller who did it! 🙂 It’s wonderful and feels very personal….because it is!

Another interesting development since we started this blog is the interest our friends and family have shown in what we are doing. In all honestly people were supportive when we kicked off (we are lucky to be surrounded by some amazingly supportive friends), but it wasn’t so much that they cared about ethical fashion, they just loved us and anything we did, but over time we have noticed a real genuine interest in what we have found out, how our journey has been and which brands we love. I’ve even had friends invite me to ethical fashion events that they have found themselves and are asking me more and more often how our blog is going, where they should purchase and whether I see this is a trend or whether it is here to stay. Our view……ethical fashion is here to stay! It’s too important to be a fad or a trend and it most definitely is a difficult one to crack, but we’re already seeing big developments in this space 🙂 From amazing websites like Project Just helping us to make more informed choices and certifications being more widely recognised such as GOTS and OEKO-TEX. It is true when they say that good things do not come easy. They really don’t and it’s just a matter of time (and determination) until we do to fashion what we did to the food industry, so hold on in there people and play your part in making ethical fashion the norm!