When we discovered Carolijn Braeken on instagram @byCarolijn, we were completely drawn in by the way she is able to express her personal thoughts and feelings. She combines honesty, rawness, inspiration as well as comfort in her writing, and supports this with beautiful understated photography.
Since we can all use some inspiration right now, we're even more excited to kick off our first Curated By interview of this year with Carolijn in which she talks about her journey to a more sustainable lifestyle and hopes for 2021.
Can you tell us a little about what brought you to clean beauty and sustainable shopping in the first place?
After our first daughter was born of course many things changed, including my view on the world and our planet. I remember those first moments when she started to notice the world around her, making me focus again on all the beautiful, little things around me, the birds flying in the skies, the leaves turning red during Autumn, the first flowers popping up in Spring, the bees in the Summer. I regained huge respect and admiration for all those things I had taken for granted for so long now and felt the immense urge to reduce my footprint on this planet. As she grew older, I also felt a huge obligation to make the world a better place for her and her sister.
How is all of this reflected in your daily life?
We started to recycle our waste more efficiently, we invested in an electronic bike to reduce our car trips, and I think it has been over 3 years ago we last hopped on an airplane. As for clean beauty and sustainable shopping, social media really made me aware of all the amazing brands out there trying to make the world a better place. I love discovering small independent brands following their heart and love for sustainable clothing, saving up for one of their items is much more rewarding than an easy one-click shopping session at one of the big, cheap high street brands. The world of clean beauty has also been a big eye-opener for me, my skin has never been so soft since I started using clean beauty products. Don't get me wrong, I'm not perfect and my wardrobe doesn't consist fully out of sustainable brands, but I'm slowly getting there.
SCOON came to life because we felt it was hard to find one place for modern ’Brands that Care’ that don’t compromise on style and performance. Even with its growing popularity, a lot of people still think sustainable clothing and beauty are for tree huggers, what is your response to that?
Do people really still think that? My most treasured, stylish items in my wardrobe are by sustainable brands: a knit made from local wool, a handmade blouse made from the softest leftover cotton, a timeless black dress made from recycled polyester, even my most delicate lingerie is by a sustainable brand -- I'm sure I'll enjoy all those items for many years to come. As for clean beauty products; my bathroom has never looked more pretty than when I started buying only clean beauty products with their often classy, minimalistic packaging.
What are the most important questions you ask yourself when considering what products to purchase? And is this any different then a year ago, before Corona?
Do I really need this? When and how am I going to wear this? Will I still love it in, let's say, a year? Does the item reflect who I am? My shopping habits are definitely different than during the pre-corona days. A global crisis, all the worrying, missing my loved ones; Corona really put things in perspective. It made me think how I truly want to spend my time, how I want to live my life, what my career goals are, what (and who) truly matters to me. I spend a lot less time on social media, I reread my favourite books, finished a dozen of mood boards, talked for hours on the phone with my best friend. It was as if I wanted to declutter my soul from all the negative energy in the world, as a protection from everything that was going on. And of course, like many of us, I started to decluttering our house in a way I had never done before. Everything we didn't need or that didn't make me happy had to go, and it didn't take long before I realized it was all the stuff we bought from small brands, carefully designated or curated, that I wanted to keep forever. Same goes for my wardrobe, following on and off trends and buying at big polluting labels doesn't feel right anymore (luckily), I don't want to fill my mind and closet with all the negative energy that comes with it.
With Corona putting everything on hold, people are saying that this is the time to make big changes and create a new normal, what do you hope will change in the fashion industry?
I really hope all the fashion circus that makes people want to buy more and more will stop; no more crazy sales like Black Friday, fashion weeks, new collections every week, fashion influencers promoting new outfits on a daily basis. Moreover, I hope the fashion industry will finally become more inclusive.
Do you have new years resolutions and if yes, is there one you’d like to share with us?
No, I don't have any NY resolutions. I'm just hoping for a better, calmer, lighter 2021.