I’m so excited to be sharing this interview with Mitka, artist, poetess and owner of Moon in Leo Shop, an online boutique that sells Jane Birkinesque vintage clothing. Here we talk about sustainable fashion, where to buy vintage, get inspired by a poem and learn a fail safe vegan banana bread recipe. Without further adieu…
What does making sustainable fashion choices mean?
Unfortunately, that’s a simple question with a complex answer!
Sustainability in fashion usually covers these areas and asks these questions:
What sort of reputation does the company have with environmental impact and treatment of employees?
Was the item ethically sourced?
These questions can be tricky to answer, because so often big brand companies mislead us; occasionally, research into the suspected company is required. Sadly, after researching and asking many questions, the answers are usually quite bleak. When I started trying to live a more sustainable life a few years back, it was all so hard for me to grasp. Because of this, I decided to only shop 2nd hand or, a relatively new and exciting term: ‘shop small’ (supporting small business, independent artists and makers with sustainable products that can be traced to the source). It can all be very confusing starting out. I recommend watching the documentary ‘The True Cost’ which explores the impact of ‘fast fashion’ on people and the planet.
I know many people who aren’t interested in secondhand clothing, how can they shop more responsibly?
Yes! The majority of my friends, my mother and my neighbor down the street all feel the same way. We all have those memories of trying to ‘go thrifting’ and finding ourselves knee-deep in a pile of someone else’s dirty laundry. Here’s a little ‘responsible shopping’ guideline that I have offered friends and family:
THE THRILL OF THRIFT (Value Village, Goodwill, Savers, Salvation Army, Garage Sales, Small local thrift shops):
The Pros: deals, deals, deals! Exciting in that you never know what you’ll find. Variety, everywhere. Save clothing from being thrown in the landfill. Usually donating to some sort of charity/employment fund upon purchase.
The Cons: You may feel like you need a good shower after digging through donated goods all day. Sometimes, you go and hunt and come out with nothing special, which can be disheartening.
THE VALUE OF VINTAGE (local curated vintage shops, Etsy vintage, Ebay Vintage, Craigslist)
The Pros: No sorting necessary! Someone’s already done all the grunt work, and you get to relax and browse. Usually still great deals to be had in comparison with big store brand names. You’re saving clothing from the landfill. You’re boycotting fast fashion and it’s terrible impacts.
The Cons: If you’re shopping online, make sure to triple check measurements and ask as many questions as possible (the shop owner will greatly appreciate this!) Most small businesses simply can’t afford to do returns and exchanges without their hard work crumbling beneath them. Where as The Gap, (for example), may not even blink at a $78 dollar refund, for a small business, that may be groceries for the week. Always triple check sizing, and questions, questions, questions! Don’t be afraid to ask away.
THE ‘SHOP SMALL’ (local makers, local artists, local boutiques, Etsy makers, handmade goods that can be traced to the source):
The Pros: Beautiful little shop spaces/stores filled with incredible art, home decor and clothing. Ceramic goods, natural skin & body care, woodwork, textiles, books, home decor… the list goes on and on. You’ll feel good about supporting an artist or maker, directly. You (usually) have easy access to asking the maker directly any questions or concerns you have via e-mail or telephone.
The Cons: If you’re used to 2nd hand buying, this can seem a little pricier than average – yet still usually less expensive than big box store buying. Just remember that you are supporting a small business, an artist/maker and their time & effort.
What steps can we take to make sure our clothes don’t end up in a landfill?
This is a great question! Donate. If donation isn’t in the cards and you need some extra cash, try re-selling your clothing on eBay, a Facebook buy sell group, or a clothing swap with friends. If that’s not up your alley, you can also find a consignment store that will sell your clothing for you.
I know you mentioned Jane Birkin as a style inspiration, what about her style inspires you when you’re elbow deep in vintage clothing?
Oh, Jane. She just always had that effortless, bohemian vibe going on. I remember seeing a photo of her breastfeeding outside in her underwear, and there was something so radically beautiful about that. Unapologetic and free. A good reminder that style comes from the personality behind the clothing… even a simple vintage cotton t-shirt can speak volumes. I’m inspired by so many artists and individuals. When I’m searching for clothing for my shop, I try to find items that will help the individual wearing to feel unique, rebellious, beautiful and in control. Pieces that the wearer can interpret into their wardrobe as they see fit. My favorite outfits can be worn in dozens of ways, over and over again.
Can you share one vegan recipe that’s quick and full proof?
Everyone’s favorite Vegan Banana Bread! Usually, I bring these as ‘healthy muffins’ and never even mention that they are vegan. People eat them up (literally).
1 large wooden spoon
10 simple ingredients:
3-4 ripe bananas
2 tbsp. flax oil
1 1/2 cup flour
1 1/2 cup oats
2 tbsp. coconut oil (melted)
3 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. sea salt
1 cup almond milk
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
First, mash the ripe bananas along with the flax oil until smooth.
Stir in brown sugar, vanilla extract.
Add in sea salt and pour in the cup of almond milk.
Blend together to form a smooth, wet mixture.
Pour in the melted coconut oil.
Next, add the flour, oats and baking powder.
Slowly stir until the wet mixture bulks up into a firm but still pourable mixture.
Pour in to a bread pan for a classic loaf, or muffin tin for muffins, and bake at 350’ for about 40 minutes (for muffins)- an hour (for loaf)
You can alter this recipe to be gluten free as well by opting for a gluten free flour mix.
Also, this is just a basic staple banana bread – feel free to get fancy by adding cinnamon, blueberries, maple syrup, raisins, dark chocolate, orange zest, etc! And of course, if possible, look for organic/fair trade products at your grocery store.
I know you’re in Canada and make buying trips to California, where’s your favorite place to stay when you’re here?
Big Sur!! We always try to make a camping trip to the coast. Something about the rolling hills, the golden sunshine. Every sunset is just breathtaking, a blanket of comfort. Whenever I’m there, I always feel like there is no place else I’d rather be.
Could you share a short poem you’ve written or a line from a poem you always come back to?
I think this is the shortest poem I’ve ever written, but one of my favorites.
There are two kinds
of people in this world:
the kind that watch the bomb drop
and cry out,
“i had so much more to live for”
and the kind
”i hope my dust
kisses the ground
You have so many artistic interests in addition to your vintage shop, not to mention your dogs, how do you balance your time between everything and still maintain a sense of accomplishment in all areas?
Since I was a child, when everyone would talk about his or her “future careers” I always said that I wanted to be an artist. One of the downsides to gravitating towards a lifestyle that virtually has no set structure is that at times you can be very (very) hard on yourself! I often feel as if nothing I do is ever good enough. That’s actually when my dogs come in, or my husband, and I’ll take a break from painting and we’ll go on a hike, breath in the fresh air. Go hunting for some vintage pieces for the shop. Write a poem. Weave. Paint some more. Head to the wood shop and build some furniture. All of these artistic activities sort of bounce off one another… if I feel that I’m heading for a loop, I’ll focus on another project that makes my heart beat. That’s what it’s all about, for all of us… reminding ourselves that we are alive, and feeling that miracle fully. Living a life as sustainable as I possibly can also makes me feel good. Being kind to all the animals, interacting with them, laughing with them. Cutting back on my carbon footprint. Recycling, reusing. I’m aware that I’m just one person, but I’ve seen my lifestyle change the lifestyles of others around me… and that is always the best feeling.
Shop with Mitka at Moon In Leo Shop
Follow Mitka on Instagram @mooninleoshop
Photos Courtesy Of Moon In Leo Shop