We all have those things we might not want to admit—like an embarrassing fear of spiders or chapters in our lives we might not read out loud.
As a jewelry designer, business owner, and fair fashion advocate, I’m part expert and part student, since I’m always learning more about the industry and supply chain for both fashion and jewelry. But at the end of the day, I’m not perfect either.
Today, I’m going to take a risk. I want to pull back the curtain and get real with you. I’m hoping that doing so will give you “permission” to let go of any guilt you have about doing ethical fashion perfectly.
Without further ado, here are 10 things I’m afraid to tell you:
I had an easy time giving up meat and dairy, but as someone with a weakness for luxe leather boots, shoes, and purses, giving up leather is something I’m having a much harder time with. I cut leather from my products in 2017 and I can’t ignore the impact of leather on animals, people, or the environment, but I’m still transitioning leather out of my closet and finding some amazing vegan options along the way like Matt & Nat and Alexandra K bags.
I’ve gained an appreciation for vegan cheese for the last few years. Being European, I never thought I could get behind fake cheese, but seriously the Mykonos Dairy cashew mozzarella is amazing.
I still have a couple of Zara and H&M items in my closet. *Gasp!* Now, I’ll add that none of these pieces are new and most are from 2013-2014 when I was just starting my journey into ethical fashion. I’m not sure if it’s bad or impressive that I’ve kept these fast fashion pieces in good condition for 4-5 years when they’re designed to be disposable.
I still have a box of costume jewelry in my closet. I haven’t even touched this jewelry in the last 6 years, but before I came to start buying and making real jewelry, I bought enough of it to fill this box. As many of us know, costume jewelry is one of the most problematic areas of the industry when it comes to human rights, sustainability, and use of toxic materials. However, next year I’ll be donating all of them to the Radical Jewelry Makeover by Ethical Metalsmiths. Here’s a link if you want to join me (http://www.ethicalmetalsmiths.org/projects/radical-jewelry-makeover/).
My first jewelry job ever was making exactly that type of jewelry.
I haven’t really been called anything but Niki in English, but have had a handful of odd nicknames in my native Hungarian, including Kecske (goat), Tucsok (cricket), Csibe (chick, as in baby chicken), and Csipetke (a type of noodle). It’s never been a big deal in the states, but it’s raised some eyebrows back in Europe.
I have written hate mail to a brand before. I never thought I would be “one of those people,” but when I learned they were making many of their products with prison labor and greenwashing them by calling them Made in the USA, I had to tell them that this was the reason they were losing a customer and that prison labor (modern slave labor) is wrong, period.
I’m always trying to cut down on waste and be more sustainable, but not all my attempts have worked out...like a DIY makeup remover. I bought washable cotton pads for it and everything, but my eyes had a different opinion and I had to go back to the ones I had been buying before.
Designer rental and resale have become my new fashion weakness. I do research on any brand that I’m buying new clothes or accessories from but buying secondhand or renting designer clothes lets me skip the research and just shop since these pieces are already out in the supply chain and they get a second life this way.
There is a reason I work with the non-profits I work with, and I would be lying if I said I had no personal connection to issues like domestic violence. But it’s that reason I know how important it is to know you have people who care about you and support you. That’s why in addition to donating a portion of profits, I also volunteer as a mentor for kids and teens affected by these issues and help expose them to opportunities in education and STEAM fields. I had people believe in me too and the cycle can be broken.
So, what are some things you’re afraid to say? I’d love if you share them in the comments below (or shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org, and let’s talk!). As a natural introvert, the more I’ve been public and live on social media and in interviews, the more I’m realizing its ok to be imperfect and human, even in front of the world. I love many of the gems I use, because of those idiosyncrasies and the imperfections that make them unique. So, shine on.