We catch up and share some Cali sunshine with creative pollinator Jennie McGuirk.
Something magical happens when we reach out of our comfort zones and into new landscapes and a new way of living...
It's a little over a decade since our close friend and muse, Jennie, left the hustle and bustle of London for the warm, sunny climes Los Angeles.
Industry recognised and highly regarded by her peers, Jennie has carved herself a successful niche bringing together creative forces with equal measures of grace and energy, keeping conscious consumerism and sustainable thinking at the heart of everything she does.
We caught up with her, pre Covid-19 lock down, to see how life has panned out for this native Mancunian, as she tells us what she misses most being away from 'home' and what slow style means to her on the West Coast of the USA.
What is is about the warm, long, sunny days of California that made you leave London in the first place?
JM: "I really loved living in London, and still mourn not having daily access to its world-class, cultural and social offerings, but I had always envisaged a more outdoor-centric, beachy existence.
LA represented everything I'd dreamt of; the climate, beautiful light, awe-inspiring natural landscapes and vibrant, diverse, city life. I have always admired the creative, progressive nature of California as an epicentre of thought-leadership, innovation and spiritual exploration.
My home in Topanga Canyon encapsulates it all for me - I live in a forward-thinking, mountain community with great access to the beaches and the city'.
....so is America really the land of dreams?
JM: "Whether they're realised or not, yes, I believe it is. Speaking from my experience in California, the same energy that allows creativity and innovation to thrive here, allows people to strive towards their dreams. I've had to work extremely hard to achieve everything I've accomplished, but have been rewarded with some incredible opportunities along the way. I've also been blessed to meet many special people on my journey.'
How have you managed to weave in your principles of sustainability into your work?
JM: "As a curious soul, I've worn many creative hats over the years, working on projects in a variety of sectors. I have continued to evolve my offering through a process of constant learning. I'm able to take all of this acquired knowledge and experience, and apply it to empower companies and projects that I really believe in.
I started my sustainability journey as US West Coast Correspondent for the Ethical Fashion Forum in 2011. Soon after, I partnered with super talented photographer Betsy Winchell, and co-founded 'Brilliant Collective', to support mindful innovation and conscious consumerism in the fashion industry.
Everything I have learned through our fun and expansive collaborations, has propelled me to continue learning and seeking ways to make a significant difference.
Over the last year I've been working with Organics Alive, a sustainable agronomic company based in San Clemente, CA. It's been such a rewarding experience to work, quite literally, at ground level with the inspirational team. They have created an all-natural product line to help preserve regenerative and sustainable farming, and together we are pioneering next generation soil and plant care.
I'm also a Super Mentor for the Women in Green Mentorship Program, which in itself has been a thoroughly enriching experience.
In a sustainable world do you think that consumerism, as we know it, is dead?
JM: 'As we know it, yes, it must die and be replaced, or at least morph. It's imperative that we adjust our behaviour and rethink how our economies work. It's necessary that we continue to produce and consume, but we just need to be more mindful about how we do it. Education is key, as is personal and collective responsibility.
With your creative soul in both, what do you think are the major differences between Europe and the US in terms of their approach to sustainability?
JM: 'I have experienced exciting groundswell on both sides of the Atlantic. I felt the same sense of joy and camaraderie attending the Copenhagen Fashion Summit in Denmark, as I did attending Rebecca Burgess' Fibershed event in Culver City, California. I truly believe that it's not about where you live but how you live.
That said, it's been quite a challenge for me here over the last decade. When I started writing about the US conscious fashion industry in 2011, it was difficult to be taken seriously. Not many people wanted to listen as it wasn't considered 'cool'. I designed a sustainable fashion e-commerce app in 2012 and was told it was too niche for me to gain any significant traction in the commercial marketplace.
Some large companies such a Patagonia, were already doing an amazing job and start-up brands were also working hard to make an impact, but I learned about the power of lobbyists and of course the insatiable capitalist appetite for fast, cheap, more. Thankfully I have witnessed a significant cultural paradigm shift during my time here.
It might be helpful to look at it in terms of differing social systems within each continent, as there are a variety of approaches at work, in both the US and Europe. Generally, a community that understands and respects the laws of nature, and the rhythms and cycles of natural ecosystems, creates a happier, more balanced existence. Being connected to the earth and ancient traditions, promotes a sense of belonging and responsible land stewardship. This in turn, supports and amplifies the benefits of sustainable living.
If you were President tomorrow (if only) or Prime minister (yes please) what would be top of your list?
JM: 'Education. Everything starts there.'
'Community' feels like a slightly overused word these days but for THE REGULAR it's really been at the core of everything we do... how do you think community and slow fashion go hand in hand?
It's all about loving ourselves and one another. Realising that we have an extended responsibility to care for people and our planet; we must start this process as individuals yet act with a collective goal in mind. I believe that life is about connection, and connection is the very heartbeat of any community.
And finally...what do you miss most about the UK?
JM: 'Our dry wit and friendly piss-taking. The down-to-earth, no-drama sensibility. Pubs with roaring log fires. Proper chocolate.