278 episodes

An inclusive audio space, Conscious Chatter opens the door to conversations about our clothing + the layers of stories, meaning and potential impact connected to what we wear. Hosted by Kestrel Jenkins, Conscious Chatter reimagines the narrative around sustainability, explores the importance of resourcefulness, questions conscious consumerism, and works to deconstruct how oppressive systems impact the sustainable fashion space.

Conscious Chatter with Kestrel Jenkins Kestrel Jenkins

    • Arts
    • 4.8 • 122 Ratings

An inclusive audio space, Conscious Chatter opens the door to conversations about our clothing + the layers of stories, meaning and potential impact connected to what we wear. Hosted by Kestrel Jenkins, Conscious Chatter reimagines the narrative around sustainability, explores the importance of resourcefulness, questions conscious consumerism, and works to deconstruct how oppressive systems impact the sustainable fashion space.

    Fashion psychology, contextualizing our buying behaviors amidst today's *speed* & how shopping is not equal to happiness

    Fashion psychology, contextualizing our buying behaviors amidst today's *speed* & how shopping is not equal to happiness

    In episode 276, Kestrel welcomes Dr. Dion Terrelonge, a chartered psychologist, to the show. A researcher and stylist, Dion’s work explores the connection between clothes and human expression.
    “We live so much of our lives in clothing and we experience the highest points and the lowest points of our lives often in clothing. So, I really do think the stories and the relationships are there, but what has happened, I believe, is with fast fashion and online shopping, is because there is so much clothing being pumped out, this endless conveyor belt of clothes, that we don’t really have as much time to build relationships with our clothing.” -Dion
    When you think about shopping, what feelings come up for you? 
    One emotion that tends to surface for a lot of us is HAPPINESS. We have come to a place where we often align the act of shopping with a state of happiness. 
    I mean, I can definitely understand the alignment between shopping and emotions. As Dion reminds us, there have been a lot of narratives that have reinforced this – statements like *retail therapy* or thinking of shopping as a fun form of entertainment.
    I can point to many instances in my past where buying something was absolutely connected to wanting to make myself feel better, to wanting to find joy through the act of buying something. 
    But this alignment so many of us have – that shopping = happiness – is problematic in so many ways and in the end, isn’t accurate. 
    Dion, a chartered psychologist, sheds light on the arc of happiness or self determination theory. She reminds us that while some of the elements that intersect with shopping may bring us happiness, the act of buying stuff isn’t it. 
    Maybe the time you spend with friends while shopping makes you happy. Maybe putting on a garment that was handed over to you from your mom makes you happy. Maybe owning and embracing your personal style makes you happy. But buying another item isn’t it.
    Throughout our conversation, Dion also helps contextualize a lot about our shopping behaviors, especially when it comes to the speed of today’s buying culture, so we can find ways to become more consciously engaged in our own lives.
    Quotes & links from the conversation:
    “Tackling fast fashion must be our next global battle” in Big Issue; article Dion was featured in
    “This is what actually happens to your brain when you shop online” in Stylist; article Dion was featured in
    Thinking Fast & Slow by Daniel Kahneman, book that Dion mentions
    Dion’s reel about the Peak-End Rule
    “We’re just really living in an era of living beyond our means.” (45:25)
    Additional pieces Dion has contributed to:
    ‘We live our lives in clothes’ | The British Psychological Society
    Red Or White? How My Wedding Dress Choice Is Affecting My Thoughts On Identity | British Vogue
    How fashion’s erratic sizing is fuelling a clothing waste crisis | Dazed
    What happens to our brains when we shop online? | stylist.co.uk
    What Does Your Jewelry Say About You? | PORTER
    How to talk to your friends about sustainable fashion | HURR
    Dion’s Website > Follow Dion on Instagram >

    • 54 min
    The Or Foundation's take on their recent agreement with SHEIN, how these grant funds are/will be used within the Kantamanto community & extended producer responsibility (EPR)

    The Or Foundation's take on their recent agreement with SHEIN, how these grant funds are/will be used within the Kantamanto community & extended producer responsibility (EPR)

    In episode 275, Kestrel welcomes Liz Ricketts (the cofounder and Director of The Or Foundation), alongside Sammy Oteng (a fashion designer, researcher, and the Community Design Lab Manager at The Or Foundation), to the show. A nonprofit based in the USA and Ghana, The Or Foundation’s primary goal is to catalyze what they call a justice-led circular economy.
    “What’s so unfair about what fast fashion has done is that it’s created a situation where every single garment that’s created, whether it was from me or from Sammy or if it’s upcycled or recycled — it’s still waste until proven otherwise, because we just have so much excess in circulation right now, and it’s just very unfair to anyone who’s trying to do the right thing.” -Liz
    Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR)
    Before we get into it, there’s one thing I want to contextualize. And it’s probably something you’ve heard about - maybe something you’ve even heard a lot about recently. That thing is – Extended Producer Responsibility or EPR.
    EPR policy would ideally ensure that producers are required to assume the costs of collection, treating, and recycling of their end-of-life products. Basically, it puts the financial burden of the waste management on the actual brands to deal with their products after citizens are done with them.
    In 2007, France was the first country to declare a legal framework for managing textile waste through EPR policy with the goal of holding textile producers responsible for the collection and recycling of end-of-use clothing, linen, and shoes. The EU also recently announced EPR schemes to help address textile waste from fast fashion. 
    However – France and the EU’s policies fail to compensate the communities where the majority of that waste ends up. So, the tax is supposed to go to waste management, but when a great deal of that textile waste ends up being exported to countries in Africa as a part of that so-called “waste management”, AND those tax funds stay within France or Europe, these policies are only continuing to perpetuate a long history of waste colonialism.
    This is only a very brief overview – but it gives you a little context on EPR before we get deeper into it.
    The Or Foundation x Shein Agreement To Create EPR Fund
    There were shockwaves sent across the fashion industry, after an announcement at the Global Fashion Summit this year (2022). The Or Foundation unveiled their agreement with SHEIN to receive $15 million over three years, as the first grant recipient of SHEIN’s new Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) Fund to help manage textile waste. 
    The commentary and discussions across social media and the web have been intense, with a lot of very emotionally-charged reactions from varying vantage points. Here’s just a glimpse of some of the feedback that has been shared –
    Concerns about the way this is blatant greenwashing by SHEIN, considering that their ultra fast fashion business model is largely to blame for the waste being dumped in Ghana and other areas of the Global South
    Concerns about how SHEIN will be able to use this partnership as a way to *look good* while continuing to perpetuate a savorist mindset
    Concerns over the criticism of this partnership being directed at The Or Foundation instead of at SHEIN
    Concerns about what this showcases with regard to the nonprofit industrial complex
    Concerns about the apparent need for wealth redistribution, but the question of when and why the origin of those funds should matter
    Concerns over when and how SHEIN will address the root causes of its impact, instead of simply throwing cash at the problem, which some have identified as only offering a bandaid solution
    And so many more. In this week’s conversation, I had the privilege to speak with the folks at The Or Foundation to get their take on it all. And more importantly, to hear some of the responses of the community in Kantamanto, and how this money wi

    • 1 hr 12 min
    What are biosynthetic dyes & could they replace the toxic petroleum-heavy ingredients in today's predominant indigo garment dye?

    What are biosynthetic dyes & could they replace the toxic petroleum-heavy ingredients in today's predominant indigo garment dye?

    In episode 274, Kestrel welcomes Michelle Zhu, the CEO & cofounder of Huue, to the show. In an effort to replace toxic chemical dyes in apparel, Huue are developing biosynthetic dyes — their initial focus is to provide an alternative to synthetic indigo.
    “We are creating a biosynthetic solution that is a one-to-one drop-in replacement into the textile supply chain. We’re creating these bio-identicals that can minimize the footprint of production of these dyes and pigments, but without disrupting the supply chain process that is required to make the authentic look and feel of denim that everybody knows and loves.”
    -Michelle Zhu
    Are you familiar with biosynthetics? If so, do you understand what they are or how they operate? So often terms like this get thrown around in the *sustainability* space, without a lot of context or definitions. They are assumed to fall into the good box or the bad box, when yet again – there is a lot more information needed to understand the bigger picture.
    So, here’s the super basics – biosynthetics are made of renewable materials, instead of being petroleum based. We often hear about them from a fiber stance, so fabrics made up of biopolymers from corn or sugar or other ingredients. But on this week’s show, we’re diving into more on how biosynthetics are being used for textile dyeing.                  
    Today, the majority of our clothes are colored with synthetic dyes. If we look back, the first synthetic dye was accidentally discovered in the 1850s when an 18-year old chemist was searching for a treatment for malaria. And since then, they’ve gradually taken over due to their speed and efficacy. 
    But take indigo – the color that we align with denim. Today, every kilogram of synthetic indigo produced uses 75x the amount of petroleum. And it involves the use of dangerous chemicals like benzene, formaldehyde, and sodamide.
    This week’s guest cofounded a company that’s leveraging biosynthetics to address the extreme toxicity across the textile dye industry. They’ve started with indigo blue, and are building one-to-one solutions that can be inserted directly into the current manufacturing infrastructure. 
    Quotes & links from the conversation:
    “This Melinda Gates-backed biotech startup is growing bacteria that make sustainable dye for denim”, article in Fast Company
    "How These Founders Are Detoxifying the Denim Industry--and Saving the Planet", article in Inc.
    "Using synthetic biology platforms to clean up indigo dye-making", article in Axios
    "Best Inventions of 2021 - Huue: Blue Jeans Go Green", article in TIME
    Huue’s Website >
    Follow Huue on Instagram >

    • 42 min
    Kesiena Onosigho on slow art as a tool for liberation and why sustainability isn't passive – it's something you live

    Kesiena Onosigho on slow art as a tool for liberation and why sustainability isn't passive – it's something you live

    In episode 273, Kestrel welcomes Kesiena Onosigho, a textile and mixed-media artist, to the show. Through the study of materials and patterns, Kesiena intuitively explores textiles and a range of media to create atmospheric abstractions focused on intersectionality, as coined by Kimberle Crenshaw, engaging in themes of social & environmental justice. “My work really is about reclaiming and retelling these narratives around Black cultural contributions to textiles and crafts and sustainability. And really dedicating my work to uplifting and centering Black women in particular, but Black people in general, their work and their history across the African diaspora.” -Kesiena
    This week’s guest is a natural dyer, a knitter, a botanical ink-maker and beyond. An exceptional textile and mixed media artist, Kesiena’s work is grounded in historical context and lived experiences, and focused on themes around social and environmental justice.
    Growing up within a very matriarchal family, surrounded by a community of Black women, she has collected experiences and knowledge, and navigated her way to discovering that art is a tool for liberation – in particular slow art. 
    As she says, “for Black people today, finding that space is an act of rebellion.”
    Through her work, she creates what she calls “atmospheric abstractions” – I love this so much. And it’s beyond accurate because so often with art, we end up being able to feel it before we actually understand it. And when it comes to her process, sustainability is woven into each step along the way – as she says: sustainability isn’t passive, it’s something you live, and something you are. 
    Quotes & links from the conversation:
    Gist Yarn's upcoming textile residency (starting in July) that Kesiena was selected to be a part of this year
    Garbage Goddess — a great resource for natural dyers that Kesiena recommended, after the recording. They sometimes offer free flowers for natural dyers in NYC, and Kesiena sometimes freelances with them.
    Teju Adisa-Farrar’s Black Material Geographies Podcast (Kesiena mentions)
    Sustainable Brooklyn (organization to support that Kesiena mentions)
    The Root Series with Dominique Drakeford 
    Kesiena encourages folks to check out and support the work of Lisa Betty (who was featured on episode 1 of The Root series)
    Conscious Chatter episode 228 with Catherine McKinley >
    Kesiena’s website >
    Follow Kesiena on Instagram >

    • 52 min
    Revealing lipstick's dirty little secrets & questioning the beauty industry's lack of regulation with Angela Weinberg of Kolorete

    Revealing lipstick's dirty little secrets & questioning the beauty industry's lack of regulation with Angela Weinberg of Kolorete

    In episode 272, Kestrel welcomes Angela Weinberg, the cofounder of Kolorete, to the show. A luxury color cosmetics brand, KOLORETE is focused on creating hydrating lipsticks made with organic ingredients.
    “Lip balms and lip products are traditionally very underregulated. So, when we think of this organic, consumerism ecosystem and conversation, what do we usually think about? I think we usually think about food … it’s less common, less mainstream to think about how the lipstick that we apply to our lips or even the makeup we apply to our face — you know, our skin is an organ, and especially with lipstick, it’s connected to our mouth so we can really consume lipstick the same way we would consume our food.”
    This week, we’re talking lipstick … that oh-so-fun tint so many of us don our lips with. 
    Taking a step back — you could say lipstick is popular. According to Allied Market Research, the lipstick market size was valued at $8.2 billion in 2018, and is expected to reach $12.5 billion by 2026.
    But just like fashion – the beauty industry is largely unregulated, making it another prime space notorious for greenwashing its way into the “sustainability scene”.
    This week’s guest is working to build a more thoughtful lipstick brand – it’s made of 98% organic ingredients, and she actually dreamed up the recipe in her own kitchen. But most lipsticks today aren’t that clean.
    In a 2013 study done at UC Berkeley, 32 different lipsticks and lip glosses commonly found in drugstores and department stores were tested. Through this research, they detected lead, cadmium, chromium, aluminum and five other metals, some of them being at levels that could raise potential health concerns.
    Alarming? For sure. As this week’s guest points out, synthetic ingredients dominate conventional beauty product recipes. Can you guess one of the recurring synthetic ingredients in lip colors? Yup, it’s petroleum, AKA oil, again — petroleum fashion and petroleum beauty.
    What can we watch for when we seek out beauty products? What can we do to advocate better options in the marketplace? What regulation is missing from the equation in the U.S. today? These are just a few of the questions we explore with Angela.
    Quotes & links from the conversation:
    "One of the things I wanted to bring to KOLORETE is that idea that quality matters — the quality of the ingredients, the quality of the manufacturing, the materials, the people, the messaging — and quality should be available at any price point and it should be very accessible.” -Angela
    *Kestrel misspoke on the documentary she recently started watching — it was actually called Toxic Beauty
    Kolorete’s Website >
    Follow Kolorete on Instagram >
    This week's episode is brought to you by Organic Basics is a carbon-neutral, Copenhagen-based brand creating underwear, activewear and everyday essentials. If you’re interested in checking them out, you can use code CONSCIOUS10 to get 10% off. FYI – I don't receive any commissions.

    • 50 min
    Anuj Sharma on button masala and questioning cut & sew as the primary way to join garments together

    Anuj Sharma on button masala and questioning cut & sew as the primary way to join garments together

    In episode 271, Kestrel welcomes Anuj Sharma, an innovative designer, to the show. Anuj developed a unique method to make clothing called Button Masala, which does not require any cutting or sewing to construct a garment. “So, how come such a beautiful material like fabric has only one joining system? I realized that it’s so visual-based. So, I decided to teach — largely because I thought it was important to have everybody knowing the idea of what is design and what it can do to you and what you should be asking for and why you should be asking for it.”
    -Anuj
    When we talk about shaking up fashion or reimagining new systems, why don’t we ever question cutting and sewing? Aren’t there other ways to bind fabric together?
    The short answer is – yes.
    Historically, many garments were draped, especially in warmer climates, to ensure air flow. As this week’s guest points out — in India, where he is from, fashion designers didn’t even exist until the 1980s. Before then, there was only a need for textile designers, because stitching was never needed.
    But with the globalization of quote unquote fashion, cut and sew has become king.
    If fashion wants to claim to be an innovative industry, shouldn’t we also welcome alternative ways of connecting fabric – beyond the cutting and sewing system?
    This week’s guest, Anuj, thinks so. He has created one alternative way to bind fabric together, called Button Masala, and for him, it’s all about sharing this technique with anyone and everyone so they can utilize it for themselves.
    Quotes & links from the conversation:
    “I said, oh it looks like a mistake if you do that. But what if there are many buttons and many button holes. If there’s one man making noises and shouting in a building, then it’s his fault and you can take him to jail. But if the whole building is shouting, then it’s not a problem — it becomes a festival. If one button is wrong, it’s a mistake, but if many buttons are wrong, then it’s alright — it’ll become a pattern. So that’s how I decided to put many buttons on a fabric in a day.” (11:55) -Anuj
    “In a way, I created LEGO of garment making.” (12:57) -Anuj
    “The whole idea of consumerism is so beautifully brought into peoples’ life, that people feel unfulfilled if they don’t buy something for a few days. This whole idea of beauty — that every time you wear a new garment, it makes you look better. And I keep constantly telling my students and I keep trying to break the myth of what is beauty. Because it’s all connected to the myth of beauty. Because what we need, we already have.” (19:25) -Anuj
    Follow Button Masala on Instagram >
    This week's episode is brought to you by Organic Basics is a carbon-neutral, Copenhagen-based brand creating underwear, activewear and everyday essentials. If you’re interested in checking them out, you can use code CONSCIOUS10 to get 10% off. FYI – I don't receive any commissions.

    • 56 min

Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5
122 Ratings

122 Ratings

whamilto ,

Excellent podcast

Kestrel-your podcast skills, topic framing, questions, and show notes provide the listener with succinct and valued information. Thank you for all the work you put into this critical topic. I have learned so much from listening and pick up important tidbits from EVERY episode. Keep up the good work! Wendy

Shannon Lohr ,

Appreciative of Kestrel, Dom & guests

I’ve been a long-time supporter of Conscious Chatter since its first episodes. This latest series (The Root) made me want to leave another 5-star review — I’m so appreciative of Kestrel and Dom’s initiation to take on this topic and their guests’ willingness to share with us all. Kudos and thank you!

luvinfashion ,

Great Guests!

I really enjoyed the interview with Ms. Bari, she has such a multifaceted view of fashion. Love this pod!

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