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As the number of celebrities, such as Megan Markle, Natalie Portman, Miley Cyrus, Joaquim Phoenix, Benedict Cumberbatch, marching for sustainability, cruelty-free, diversity, and other ethics-related issues is growing, we feel there’s some justice here to be made.
It is only fair to bring to your attention the real conscious lifestyle influencers. The amount of fashion influencers and bloggers that are uncovering the plethora of problems currently plaguing the fashion industry is growing. They give advice on how to remain an ethical and conscious consumer, by guiding and shaping our buying habits.
Throughout 2020, we will be sharing our ‘Leaders of Conscious Fashion’ series, talking to sustainable fashion influencers, key figures in the fashion industry, and ethical fashion brand founders. For instance, we’ll talk about what they are doing to nurture and support positive action. This week we had the pleasure of interviewing the 22-year-old Tia Blanco, a professional surfer and founder of ‘Sugar Taco’ and ‘Dear Self’.
Take 5 minutes to get some rare nuggets of conscious lifestyle wisdom: from her motivation to embark on a cruelty-free lifestyle journey, to what inspires and motivates her, her top 5 favourite mindful brands, and conscious influencers!
1. Would you kindly introduce yourself and tell us more about your journey? How and when did you get involved with the vegan and sustainable lifestyle?
Hello, my name is Tia Blanco and I am a professional surfer, entrepreneur, and vegan enthusiast. First off, I have been surfing since the age of 3 years old. I was born in Puerto Rico, lived in Hawaii for a few years, and now I am living in California. I compete full time, therefore I travel all around the world doing what I love! My sponsors for surfing are Beyond Meat, Swatch, Sector 9, Raen, and stickybumps.
Next, I am the co-founder of ‘Dear Self’ skincare. My sister and I started a vegan, cruelty free, eco-friendly line of products based around the idea of self-love. Being a new business owner has been a wild ride and I have learned so much! What’s more, I am also a part-owner in an all-vegan restaurant based in LA, called ‘Sugar Taco’, as well as an eco-friendly car wash company.
Lastly, I am a very passionate vegan! Everything about being vegan aligns with my personal core values. I am mainly vegan for ethical reasons (I LOVE animals!), but I also choose to eat plant-based food for environmental and health reasons. I have an Instagram account called @tiasvegankitchen where I share my recipes and help inspire people to give veganism a chance.
2. How would you define yourself as a consumer?
I would say that I am a conscious consumer. I understand that we hold the power as consumers and what we buy creates demand. Therefore, I do my best to choose to buy products/food that are eco-friendly and cruelty free in order to create a demand for those things.
3. Some say veganism is just ‘another diet’. What’s your take on this view?
*she chuckles under her breath* I would agree that to some people it can just be considered a “diet”, but for me, it’s a lifestyle – a sustainable lifestyle. I am vegan for more reasons other than just to “be in shape”, therefore in my eyes, it’s not just another trendy diet.
4. We all know that there is quite a lot of greenwashing in fashion and beauty at the moment, with many brands using the ‘vegan tag’ to sell products that do more harm than good to the environment. How would you deal with this issue?
I think the best way to act towards this issue is to be aware that just because a brand claims they are vegan, doesn’t mean that they are entirely ethical or environmentally friendly. Therefore, it is important for us consumers to do our own research and dissect the brands that we like to make sure they are a company we feel good about supporting.
5. Do you think there is room for improvement in the world of vegan and cruelty free fashion and beauty? If yes, how would you make it better?
I am really proud to be vegan and I am grateful for all of the people out there who support this movement. However, I think we as vegans can be less “judgey” towards one another. No one is perfect and just because you are vegan does not mean that you can do no wrong. I am definitely not perfect, but I strive to be the best version of myself. I would be happy to see more people in this community act more out of love than judgment towards one another.
6. A lot of people argue that having a sustainable lifestyle is expensive. What’s your take on this?
There are many ways to align yourself with a sustainable lifestyle. If you find that certain eco-friendly brands are exorbitantly priced, there is always the option to keep wearing the clothes you have or thrift shop! Or you can find a happy medium of all of the above! My advice would be to do your best to make sustainable, ethical, and conscious decisions, but know that no one is perfect! Therefore, if you make a mistake or accidentally purchase something from a brand that ended up not being the brand you thought they were, give yourself some slack and do better next time.
7. Who made the largest impact on your development as a sustainable lifestyle Influencer and entrepreneur?
I really love Ellen Fisher. She is a vegan Youtuber who promotes a simplistic way of living and always is advertising different sustainable brands.
8. Name five favourite vegan fashion/style bloggers/influencers and tell us why you like them. Similarly, what are your top 5 most loved vegan fashion brands, and why?
Honestly, I am so busy I don’t have time to follow any blogs, so I wouldn’t know. The one clothing brand that comes to mind that I absolutely love is called @veganizedworld on Instagram. I love their ethical clothing. I also applaud Stella McCartney for staying true to her vegan values in the fashion world!
9. What are your sustainable beauty essentials?
One of my beauty essentials is reusable makeup cloth. It’s one of our new products for ‘Dear Self’ – called “I AM INFINITE”. The cloth acts as a magic eraser to take off sunscreen or makeup. All you do is add water! My sister and I found out that every day 1.3 billion makeup wipes are discarded, and it takes over 100 years for each makeup wipe to breakdown. Therefore, we wanted to add this to our skincare line to replace the demand for makeup wipes! Every purchase we get we plant a tree! 🌱
When it comes to skincare, the clear skin trio from ‘Dear Self’ is a must-have in my bathroom cupboard. Another way ‘Dear Self’ is trying to be eco-friendly and sustainable is eliminating the demand for plastic in beauty products! We chose to have all of our products in glass bottles. Also, we opted for plastic-free bubble wrap & recycled packing paper to keep them safe and sound during transit.
10. Share three daily habits that help you maintain a more conscious and sustainable lifestyle?
Wake up every morning with intention and gratitude, move your body and immerse yourself in nature at least once a day. And eat plant based, whole foods for breakfast, lunch, and dinner!
11. What would you do differently if you start being an influencer/entrepreneur now?
I would worry less about other people’s opinions and be 100% of my authentic self!
12. For all your followers aspiring to become conscious influencers one day, what’s that ‘one best advice’ you have for them?
Stay true to who you are and your values because that will reflect in the content you put out. 💪🏼
Consequently, we can see that even the busiest of people that run multiple businesses can make ethical and conscious choices in their every day lives. However, it’s important to allow for flexibility and not be too harsh on yourself, as there is always room for improvement in the sustainable lifestyle journey. With this in mind, we hope that from now on you too, can make a few sustainable and ethical everyday choices that, ultimately, lead to a big change 🌍