SUSTAINABLE SISTAS: KATE HALL FROM ETHICALLY KATE
Sustainable Sistas is a blog series celebrating women who run sustainable and ethical businesses or are doing important work for sustainable causes. We find out what sustainability means to them, challenges they face, what drives them and what they hope sustainability will achieve. Please contact us here if you would like to be featured or know a lady doing amazing work.
Kate is a freelance ethical writer, small business owner and eco warrior based in New Zealand. The first thing you notice about Kate is her boundless energy. Her enthusiasm for life and all things eco/ethical/sustainable really shines through and underpins everything she does. There is no filter with Kate; she is totally herself, down to earth and authentic when it comes to her social media accounts and writing. This is what makes her so engaging and a great representation of what it means to be a Sustainable Sista!
When you started Ethically Kate, what was your motivation and vision? Has that vision changed?
Even though Ethically Kate has only existed officially for about 3 months, in my mind, Ethically Kate truly began a few years ago when I properly started my ethical fashion journey and began acknowledging the brands doing awesome things. My motivation: the planet is so damn beautiful I can’t handle it. PEOPLE are also beautiful, and I can’t stand to sit back and watch whilst we exploit and damage both these things. My vision is to make small eco businesses blossom into becoming our norm. Plus teaching consumers tips on how to reduce their footprint on the planet. It’s never changed, but always evolves as life has a domino effect- it went from solely fashion to now zero waste eating, water consumption, beauty products… I could go on.
Ethically Kate isn’t you only business, you also run babysitting business (among many other extra-curricular activities I see you getting up to!). How do you juggle it all? Do you ever think of quitting?
Oh, yes. Sometimes I think it would be so much easier to go to a 9-5 day job, come home, and have my mind free to myself. But it wouldn’t be easier, because I love what I do, and I couldn’t image not doing it. I’d get bored, and I would hate myself for not speaking up. Life becomes far too full on at times, especially when I know I should be prioritising my family life- quality time with my new husband is scarce!
I’ve had chronic fatigue and even shingles from over working! But I’ve come to know my body and limit, and my well-practiced time management skills are what allow me to get so much done. I manage 18 employees at my babysitting business, and run that whole business on my own. I manage relationships between all my content writing and brand rep work, and to top it off, attempting to live zero waste (especially as a coeliac) takes a lot of food prep.
There are days that everything falls at once, and I want to give up. Tears happen. Utter exhaustion happens. Then I remember everyone is counting on me, and it could totally be worse. So, I quickly get over myself and hop to work.
I think part of ethical and sustainable living is being kind to yourself, first and foremost. How do you unwind or practice self care?
This is the most challenging thing I face every day, and something I am working on this year. It feels ironic that being an advocate for sustainability actually means I run myself to the ground sometimes. Since leaving my full time job in September, I told myself I would make more time for this- that was why I left! But, it hasn’t really happened. I am trying to get into a better routine at running on the beach in the mornings and attending my local yoga class- two things that fill my cup. I also love being outdoors, so making sure I get out into nature every single day helps - even if I take a book or laptop with me. I am an active relaxer, so you’ll never find me happy doing nothing. Baking, making kombucha, or sewing are my self care activities.
What does living sustainable mean to you? What are the challenges of living this lifestyle?
Living sustainably means assessing everything you do through the eyes of: Is this something I can do forever that will mean the planet, people, and myself will be happy? The challenge is matching all three together. Living plastic/waste free takes a lot of time, and time out from friends and family sometimes. This means it may be sustainable for the planet, but not for me in the long run! Working on refining my habits and ways around this is important to keep this all in sync. Also, the cost involved in buying organic (we don’t yet have a thriving veggie garden… and I say YET) is not super sustainable for a newly married couple with a mortgage and one entrepreneurial income- yet it’s great for the planet and farmers who avoid exposure to chemicals. It’s a hard balance, but it gets better with time and practice.
Do you have a personal philosophy or motto that guides you?
If everyone else on the planet was doing this too, would it be sustainable?
What do you think the biggest challenges facing ethical and sustainable businesses are?
Being over shadowed by the big dogs.
Changing the mindset of consumers so they know that a higher price doesn’t mean a greedier business owner, just that the maker is being paid a fair wage.
Changing the WAY we consume is the biggest challenge. Changing mindset and habits is the hardest to change.
What sustainable and ethical businesses inspire you?
Aimee from Bohome and Roam has always been a big inspiration. Her ability to keep beautiful designs at the core but make sure they are still ethically made is amazing. I think a lot of businesses lose or even initially lack design flare and taste when they set out going ethical. I believe a brand should still have design as its main focus, but create in an ethical way- otherwise we lose fashion and beauty!
What is your hope for the future of sustainability, positive?
I hope that we get to a point that it’s more unusual not to care about the environment. I hope bamboo toothbrushes are everywhere, we have global recycling laws like Germany (e.g. fined with caught recycling wrong), and generally become a well-educated race around how to keep our planet thriving.
What are your favourite resources to read, watch or listen to that has helped inform your opinion on sustainable living, inspire you or offer an interesting perspective?
The True Cost was literally the turning point for me! Everyone knows that’s a goodie. Wardrobe Crisis podcasts by Clare Press are also super insightful. Stuffocation by James Wallman is also a great read (currently reading) and has been an incredible insight to our idea of ‘stuff’ and why the heck we have it.
What are some of your favourite quotes because everyone loves a good quote!?
There is no beauty in the finest cloth if it makes hunger and unhappiness- Mahatma Gandhi. When friends say ‘look at my new dress’, my eyes are masked from its perceived beauty when I know it was made in unhappiness and hunger.