Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Interview with Simply Sustainable: Sustainable and Fair Trade Accessories

How To Edgy Style Blogger Look, Simply Sustainable, Spikes
Sunset, Fashion, Simply Sustainable, Hovey Lee
Hovey Lee, Simply Sustainable, Sunset, Blogger
LA California Latina blogger, free people, sole rebel silicon valley, simply sustainable
Sunset fashion blogger, free people, upcycled vintage
Simply Sustainable, Hovey Lee, Upcycled, vintage fashion blogger
Sole Rebel Silicon Valley, Free People, Maurices, Mipacha, Simply SUstainable
How to Style Free Spirit with an Edge:
Macarme Argentinian Aragonite Necklace || c/o Simply Sustainable
Directly sourced materials, handmade jewelry, and fair trade goods
Long Pyrite Malibu Creek Necklace || Hovey Lee
Reclaimed Brass and vintage sourced eco jewelry line
Denim Vest || Upcycled with my BFF
Top || Maurices
Tunic || Free People
Anklet || c/o Mipacha
Directly sourced, handwoven and created by the community it is inspired by
Flats || Sole Rebel
Fair trade created, recycled tire soles, and handmade in Ethiopia paying 4xs legal minimum wage

Photo Credit: Pink Creative Studio


Today's interview is very exciting to me because although, the founder of this organization is in Canada, she is just across the border of my hometown in New York. Leah is a sustainable lifestyle living, world traveler who has followed her passion for artistry and making a global impact. (Reminds me of myself in a few years!) She is such an awesome tree-hugger. She even told me that she walked my necklace to the post office to prevent fuel emission. Gimme some tree-hugging lover high five right there!

... And now, I am thrilled to have had the pleasure to interview Leah- a storyteller, adventurer, artisan and owner of Simply Sustainable. 

Fashion for sustainability and change. Tell me how your products help bring about positive, sustained change?
Each piece I promote and sell comes with a story.  Perhaps it is of the Artist who made it and how proud they are to earn a living by creating with traditional techniques, or perhaps it is of the adventure I went on to source the stone that is sustained between the strings of a necklace I made.  By taking ownership of the process and sharing this – the consumer is educated about what it really takes to create and bring the product to market.  I believe that if a consumer can comprehend this – they will wake up to the way we shop and make a turn in a positive direction.   

Why did you name your company "simply sustainable?"
The name carried forward from when I studied environmental management.  It came to me and stuck – I see it as a promise to myself to keep it simple and make it sustainable.  Beyond the products I sell, it represents a way of life I have set out to achieve and inspire others to understand and pursue.   

Tell me about your travels and how they influence your brand?
My travels changed the course of my life and without those years of learning, exploring and volunteering, Simply Sustainable would not have grown beyond the classroom.  With each new experience, Simply Sustainable grows a little more however at the heart of it all is the desire to promote and preserve traditional artistry of communities and cultures while respecting, empowering and honouring those who create it.  My roll in this continues to evolve as does my brand with each trip I take.

Tell me about the startup phase of your business.
The startup phase of the Handmade & Fair Trade Traditional Artistry was shared with my pursuit of a non-profit organization that had a mission to promote accountability within the non-profit sector.  It was an in between of my career as an accountant and my passion for artistry.  By 2010, I felt as though I was spinning my wheels on spreadsheets and found that buying directly from the Artisans of Guatemala and selling in Canada was the most effective use of my time and resources.  The strong desire to do social good is the foundation of Simply Sustainable, and that is why consumer education is just as important as making the sale.

I know you are currently based in Niagara Falls. Has this helped your business grow and network?
It has put things in perspective.  To be completely honest, the market here for premium goods is narrow – and perhaps even narrower since my products are nature inspired rather than “bling”.  With the spirit of a rolling stone, taking the show on the road is what I do best so for the first few years, I travelled outside my region to capture a larger market.  It was good in the short run, but by no means sustainable especially since I am a solo act here in Canada.  Staying close to home has had some challenges financially when it comes to sales; however it has helped me identify some gaps in the industry such as consumer education on fair trade, ethical fashion and sustainability.  It has also allowed me to network within my community and collaborate with like minded entrepreneurs.

Can my readers purchase Simply Sustainable in boutiques? 
Yes, I have been building relationships with retailers over the years and have a small collection of shops local to Ontario that carry my work from Niagara to Ottawa.  On my website you will find a list of retailers I collaborate with as well as an assortment of goods available for sale in my online shop. 

Where are you materials sourced? How about the materials in my necklace?
When it comes to my own work, I diligently source my materials as I travel.  I do my best to buy the stones in their country of origin from the miners themselves, their family members or a lapidary.  The stone in the necklace isAragonite from Argentina – I used to walk to the lapidary’s home and custom order the stones to specification when I was living in Las Sierras de Cordoba.  The string is from Brazil, waxed polyester that is going to last for decades if cared for properly – a material that allows for the detailed work and consistency you will find most appealing in this style of macramé [a form of knotted textile making]. 

Where do you see Simply Sustainable in 5 years? 10 years? 
Long term I see myself collaborating with a community of conscious entrepreneurs working at sustaining a triple bottom line industry and economy through education and example.  My love for Latin American inspired and traditional artistry has led me back to where I started in a way – back to the days when I tried to convince the partner at the accounting firm the necessity of recognizing environmental liability on the balance sheet.  That was just the tip of the iceberg and once I began to live in communities plagued by injustice I heard my calling.  The voice inside knows that my desire to educate the consumer in pursuit of making trade fair for all speaks much louder than my inner artist who wants to create jewelry.  Recognizing my strengths in a movement of positive change has presented a fork in the road and I am currently in the process of taking a detour on my journey.

Aside from purchasing your beautifully crafted product, what message does your brand want to translate to their customers?
Integrity and value.  Let’s not buy to dispose or go shopping to cure the blues, let’s purchase with purpose.  We can collectively improve the lives of global citizens by choosing to support at the ground level from ethical entrepreneurs that respect people and the planet, having integrity for what they produce and offer for sale.  At the end of the day, when someone walks away with a Simply Sustainable purchase I want them to be inspired to take small steps towards understanding the work in progress that brings the finished good to the shop shelf inherently teaching them value of what they possess and understanding that their dollar makes a difference.   

My blog's name is BeYOUtiful Hope. How do you define beauty?
Beauty is light. It is what brings me pleasure and peace at the same time.  I find myself enveloped by it the closer I get to the Earth which is why I am so attracted to natural beauty.  Once upon a time I did not see my true beauty, gratitude has lifted that darkness and now I can see it from within and let it out with a smile that inspires others to open their hearts.  

I hope you enjoyed this interview as much as I did, and learned more about the process of sustainable fashion creation. :) Don't forget to check out her website and her social media(linked above)! Remember that Christmas is coming up! BTW - LOVE her Instagram feed @simplysustainable ... follow her and you will be vicariously adventuring through Latin America every day! ;)

With Love,

"Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always strive to do what is good for each other and for everyone else. Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus." -- 1 thessalonians 5: 15-18

Don't forget to follow me on Instagram and Facebook!


  1. Beautiful photos!

  2. Love reading interview because we can know a lot of things in the deeper industry

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  3. I wanted to thank you for this excellent read!! I definitely loved every little bit of it.Cheers for the info!!!! & This is the perfect blog for anyone who wants to know about this topic. You know so much its almost hard to argue with you
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  4. lovely outfit. love the boho style on you =)

  5. Love the dress! I'm jealous of how warm it is there! :)

  6. Ooo your white dress is fab! I love it. And it looks great with a green vest.

  7. Wow it's so cool that the different pieces of your necklace are actually coming from different countries! That makes it so special! I love it when pieces of clothing or jewelry have their own story! Thanks for this awesome post and for sharing this interview!


Thank you for the lovely comment. God bless & stay Be-you-tiful!