Chic Made Consciously: an Interview with Cassandra Ciarallo [Cruelty-Free Holiday Gifts Series]

Look chic. Shop consciously.

Fast Fashion: the inexpensive, mass produced clothing and accessories that fill our malls and our wardrobes. It's that cute t-shirt that you picked up as an impulse buy because it was on sale and everyone can use an extra t-shirt... no harm no foul right? But, when we dive deeper into the fashion industry it becomes apparent that the production of these types of products are having a serious negative impact on our planet. It may appear that cost that we as consumers pay for clothing and accessories has been decreasing, however, the human and environmental costs have grown dramatically.*  

Chic Made Consciously, a local Toronto brand, has taken the issue of fast fashion to heart by creating a line of on trend eco-fashion accessories and by giving consumers the opportunity to make conscious fashion choices. Instead of mass producing fast fashion accessories that are not meant to last more than a season or two, Chic Made Consciously spreads the message of "slow fashion" by offering accessories that are designed to last. The brand features fashionable bracelets, chokers, belts, earrings and other accessories - all made from repurposed tire inner tubes. 

The lovely Chic Made Consciously owner Cassandra Ciarallo representing her Eco-Fashion brand at an event in Toronto. Photo by: Chic Made Consciously. 

The lovely Chic Made Consciously owner Cassandra Ciarallo representing her Eco-Fashion brand at an event in Toronto. Photo by: Chic Made Consciously. 

I am so excited to have Chic Made Consciously as the first brand to be featured in my Cruelty-Free Holiday Gifts Series. I sat down with Chic Made Consciously owner Cassandra Ciarallo for an interview and she shared all about her brand and what sustainable fashion means to her, as well as her tips for being a stylish and sustainable shopper. I've included the interview below, along with the details on how you can enter to WIN a gift card to her online shop (just in time for the holidays)! Plus, as a thank you to my readers, Cassandra has shared a special Promo Code exclusively for Love Wild Live Free Readers. Enter code "LOVE15" at checkout for 15% off on www.chicmadeconsciously.com! (The code is valid until February 28, 2017 and is limited to 1 use per customer). 

I always love seeing Cassandra and her beautiful accessories from Chic Made Consciously at events and festivals in Toronto! Photo by: Love Wild Live Free.

I always love seeing Cassandra and her beautiful accessories from Chic Made Consciously at events and festivals in Toronto! Photo by: Love Wild Live Free.

The Fashionable Side to Veganism

People come to veganism for many different reasons. Often times we hear about going vegan for the animals or for personal health, but the environment is also an important element within the vegan movement. Using the parts of animals for food, fashion and lifestyle products has a significant environmental impact that should not be ignored. In fact,  the "animal agriculture" system is the leading cause of water consumption, deforestation and pollution. It is responsible for more greenhouse gases than the transportation industry, and is a primary cause of rainforest destruction, habitat loss, species extinction, topsoil erosion, ocean "dead zones", and almost every other environmental ill.** 

The environmental harm that occurs from using animals for fashion accessories does not just stop at the impact from raising animals. It extends to the actual processing that is involved to “convert the putrefactive raw skin into a durable material” (i.e., to keep it from rotting in the buyer’s closet). This includes the use of a toxic chemical process that is incredibly harmful to the environment.*** 

Chic Made Consciously Eco-Fashion Accessories

The sustainability factor of the Chic Made Consciously pieces is two fold: not only are they crafted from repurposed inner tire tubes, but they are an excellent alternative to similar accessories that would otherwise be made using leather or new synthetic materials. Tires are stuck in landfills all over the globe, and so Chic Made Consciously has made it their mission to give these tires new life! The material itself is softer than you might imagine. I am always so impressed with the versatility of the rubber - you probably would not think that the pieces were once part of a tire unless you were told otherwise!

What I also love about this line is that each intricately handcrafted piece is one of a kind and fairly traded with Chic Made Consciously's partner artisans in Bali, Indonesia. This means that the individual craftspeople are paid fair wages and the products are ethically produced.

Cassandra Ciarallo envisions a world without fast fashion. A world where humans aren’t overworked, abused or underpaid in order to meet global consumption and keep up with weekly trends. Where wasted or unwanted clothes and accessories aren’t being thrown away to pollute our landfills.
— www.chicmadeconsciously.com
This stunning Flower Bracelet from Chic Made Consciously has an array of flowers that circle the forearm. A remarkably trendy item that can be paired up with any outfit. Photo by: Chic Made Consciously.

This stunning Flower Bracelet from Chic Made Consciously has an array of flowers that circle the forearm. A remarkably trendy item that can be paired up with any outfit. Photo by: Chic Made Consciously.

This handcrafted unisex bracelet from Chic Made Consciously is made from a repurposed truck tire inner tube. A simple yet bold piece that is a fashionable addition to any outfit. Photo by: Chic Made Consciously.

This handcrafted unisex bracelet from Chic Made Consciously is made from a repurposed truck tire inner tube. A simple yet bold piece that is a fashionable addition to any outfit. Photo by: Chic Made Consciously.

These handmade chokers by Chic Made Consciously add a dynamic and bold statement to any outfit. Layer it up for extra edge. Photo by: Chic Made Consciously.

These handmade chokers by Chic Made Consciously add a dynamic and bold statement to any outfit. Layer it up for extra edge. Photo by: Chic Made Consciously.


How did you first become interested in fashion and the issues surrounding the industry?

Growing up I always had an interest in fashion. I found it to be a unique way to express character in whatever way felt right to me. In early 2015, was when I launched my eco-fashion brand Chic Made Consciously and this peaked my interest in the sustainability issues surrounding the fashion industry. I learned that the industry is the second largest polluter after oil. Yes, our precious planet is being used and abused. Not only that, people all over the world are exploited in order to produce what we wear everyday. I made it my mission with this brand to educate and spread awareness of these issues while offering a product that promotes fair trade and the reduction of waste.

In 2014, Cassandra traveled throughout South East Asia. Her travels brought her to Ubud, a city in Bali which the art capital of the island where artisans, craftsmen, and painters fill the streets, handcrafting beautiful, one of a kind goods. As she walked down one street, she came across a shop where the worker was creating accessories from repurposed tire inner tubes. She fell in love with his magnificent work and was invited to spend the day creating and working with the material herself. Photo by: Chic Made Consciously.

In 2014, Cassandra traveled throughout South East Asia. Her travels brought her to Ubud, a city in Bali which the art capital of the island where artisans, craftsmen, and painters fill the streets, handcrafting beautiful, one of a kind goods. As she walked down one street, she came across a shop where the worker was creating accessories from repurposed tire inner tubes. She fell in love with his magnificent work and was invited to spend the day creating and working with the material herself. Photo by: Chic Made Consciously.

Chic Made Consciously offers sustainable fashion accessories that are made from repurposed tire inner tubes and handcrafted by artisans in Bali, Indonesia. I was able to work with these wonderful artisans Dana, Pat and Blanka on the island of Bali and discover the unfortunate circumstance of tire waste. I am passionate to be part of their team, giving life to old tires in such a unique and fashionable way. I believe it is truly possible to be trendy and sustainable at the same time, we simply need to be conscious consumers in order to assist with making change!

What does "sustainable fashion" mean to you? 

To me, sustainable fashion means fashion with a conscience. This means being aware of what you are consuming, considering the story behind the label, the environmental and social impacts. Read labels, ask questions, demand transparency and do your research! The easiest thing to do is google "brand name + sustainability/responsibility" and you will find tons of information on what your favourite brands are doing to be sustainable. TIP: if there is no information then they probably are not being transparent and have something to hide! It truly is up to us as consumers demanding for more transparency and making wise purchases. I believe each time we spend money we are casting a vote for the kind of world we want to live in. Let's be consumers and that are more involved in making conscious decisions!

For more information, read Cassandra's tips to being a stylish and sustainable shopper here

Are there any current issues within the fashion industry that you think that consumers should know about?

On April 24th 2013, there was a factory collapse in Bangladesh that killed over 1,000 people. It really hit home for me, opening my eyes to a this new world that I knew nothing about. I couldn't believe that so many people lost their lives and their loved ones. Not only that, it was a Canadian brand, Joe Fresh, that made the headlines. The truth is that these workers are exploited: working in extremely poor working conditions and making on average .01 for every $10 t-shirt that we buy in North America, not even enough to even cover their basic necessities of food, shelter, water and medicine. The social impacts are quite devastating but there is also the environmental side to consider, too. Approximately 40% of our surface water is considered polluted due to toxic chemicals dumped in our water supply and that is just the tip of the iceberg. 

The Chic Made Consciously brand features fashionable bracelets, chokers, belts, earrings and other accessories - all made from repurposed tire inner tubes. Photo by: Chic Made Consciously.

The Chic Made Consciously brand features fashionable bracelets, chokers, belts, earrings and other accessories - all made from repurposed tire inner tubes. Photo by: Chic Made Consciously.

I want to assist in making people aware of what is going on and encourage consumption decisions that bring us more connected to our supply chain. We are definitely so far removed from the process but this knowledge gives each and every one of us the power to make decisions that have huge impact!

If everyone could make one change or do one thing in order to reduce the impact of our fashion-related consumption habits, what would that be? 

One of my favourite sayings from Vivienne Westwood is "Buy less, choose well, make it last." If we consume less of cheaply made clothing or accessory items and put more emphasis on buying better quality and well made products, we are investing in fashion pieces that are made to last and leave you feeling good! The 'fast fashion' industry is made fast (of course), cheap and easy and the unfortunate reality is that workers in countries like Bangladesh, as I mentioned previously, suffer tremendously as a result. Support brands that do good, are helping our environment not hurting and paying workers fair wages! You may pay a little more up front but if you are consuming items that are made well and meant to last, then the cost-per-wear is much less and you are getting much more for your investment. (EX. $10 t-shirt only lasts 6 months but a well made $50 t-shirt may last over 5 years!)

I understand that you traveled throughout South East Asia in the summer of 2014. Could you share some food recommendations? 

I love reminiscing my travels. Luckily, all of the countries I visited offered plant based and veggie options so it was incredibly easy to travel and avoid meat. My favourite food was definitely in Thailand since I absolutely love Thai food. So many delicious curry dishes with fresh vegetables and tofu. The food in Bali was also very much vegetarian and vegan friendly and that's where I tried tempeh for the first time! I participated in a Balinese cooking class where we made different vegetable dishes with rice, fried tempeh and chickpea flour fritters. It was so so so delicious! 

Some of the delicious, Balinese food that Cassandra cooked up during a cooking class where including vegetable dishes with rice, fried tempeh and chickpea flour fritters. Photo by: Cassandra Ciarallo.

Some of the delicious, Balinese food that Cassandra cooked up during a cooking class where including vegetable dishes with rice, fried tempeh and chickpea flour fritters. Photo by: Cassandra Ciarallo.


Instagram Giveaway Details

I've teamed up with Chic Made Consciously for a special giveaway just in time for the holidays. We've got a $40 Gift Certificate for the Chic Made Consciously online store up for grabs! To enter: Visit my Instagram post from today (pictured below) by clicking here.

Head over to my Instagram page by clicking here to enter to win a $40 gift certificate for the Chic Made Consciously online store!

Head over to my Instagram page by clicking here to enter to win a $40 gift certificate for the Chic Made Consciously online store!


You can find Chic Made Consciously at the Fair in the Square Holiday Fair in Toronto at Nathan Philips Square from December 8th to 23rd, Weekdays: 11:30 am – 9:00 pm, Saturdays 10:00 am – 10:00 pm and Sundays10:00 am – 9:00 pm! For more info click here

Chic Made Consciously has shared a special Promo Code exclusively for Love Wild Live Free Readers. Enter code "LOVE15" at checkout for 15% off on www.chicmadeconsciously.com! (The code is valid until February 28, 2017 and is limited to 1 use per customer). 

Special thanks to Cassandra for her time! Don't forget to check out Chic Made Consciously on FacebookInstagramTwitterPinterest and on www.chicmadeconsciously.com.

Much love,

#LoveWildLiveFree

This post was in collaboration with Chic Made Consciously. This is an unpaid endorsement and I was gifted the Flower Bracelet for review. I only share content about products that I personally support, and that are of the highest integrity.

To work with Avra and Love Wild Live Free on collaborations, reviews and sponsored posts please get in touch on the Contact page!  

Sources:

* @truecostmovie. "The True Cost | A Documentary Film." The True Cost. N.p., n.d. Web. 08 Dec. 2016.

** "Cowspiracy: The Sustainability Secret." COWSPIRACY. N.p., n.d. Web. 08 Dec. 2016..  

***”Wool, Fur, and Leather: Hazardous to the Environment." PETA. N.p., n.d. Web. 10 Dec. 2015. <http://www.peta.org/issues/animals-used-for-clothing/animals-used-clothing-factsheets/wool-fur-leather-hazardous-environment/>.

Note: Some tires may contain stearic acid. The focus of this feature is on the sustainability factor of Chic Made Consciously products. All of the products are made from repurposed inner tire tubes, and are an excellent alternative to similar accessories that would otherwise be made using leather or new synthetic materials.