| creative women with a conscience | Kestrel Jenkins Conscious Chatter podcast host & producer, story teller, 'Left Edit' co-founder & conscious style maven.
All Photos provided by: Kestrel Jenkins + Photographer: Drew McGill
If I had to describe Kestrel in a sentence it would look a little something like this; a romantic and optimistic soul who is curious about discovering more and bringing to the surface, the truth behind fashion, brands and supply chains. She is a change maker who is all about collaboration and inclusivity - and brings people together through her fervour for conversation and the protection of people and the planet. She is authentic, driven and committed to making a difference, and although Kestrels' work ethic is second to none, she is also light hearted, funny and super down to earth. Kestrels personality is very much mirrored in her style which is; quirky, bright, effortless and chic.
Kestrel is the founder, host and producer of the groundbreaking ethical podcast, 'Conscious Chatter'. She is leading the way when it comes to demanding greater transparency from fashion supply chains and each week she challenges the fashion system with the important questions like, 'who made my clothes, where were my clothes made, what were they made from and how can we do better?'.
Kestrel is a leading female change-maker, entrepreneur, story teller and conscious style advocate.
We met Kestrel back in April this year at Cafe Gratitude in Venice Beach, California with my close friend, Alex van Os and chatted for hours about ethical & sustainable fashion, the future of politics and our individual journey's that have lead us to where we are today. When the waiter asked us what we were all grateful for we replied with, 'being able to sit at this table and have this conversation together in person, even though we live on other sides of the world!'.
Alex and myself [Nat] had decided that one day of our month long road trip was not enough time spent with Kestrel, so we decided to shake up our plans and drive from Joshua Tree to San Diego - Kestrels hometown - to spend more time together. Kestrel invited us to camp in her backyard, and we spent the weekend visiting the coolest thrift stores, eating vegetarian burritos, drinking cocktails and talking like school girls!
Read below to learn all about Kestrel, the founder of Conscious Chatter,
'Where What We Wear Matters'.
With your podcast Conscious Chatter you’re particularly concerned about fashion supply chains, why is this specific area of fashion important to you?
For me, I’ve had an interest in supply chains since college. At university, I studied Global Studies, and through that program, I learned about how people, products and ideas move around the world, impacting other people and the environment along the way, and vice versa. This framework of thinking absolutely influenced the direction I wanted to go after college, because through learning more about these movements, I was drawn to the concept of Fair Trade, as a business option that included people and the planet as valuable stakeholders in the process.
You’re known as the podcast woman who is ‘curious' about issues. What are some of the major areas of concern in fashion that you've learnt about from your guests, that you didn't know when you started?
I guess thanks to Clare Press of the Wardrobe Crisis, I have realised how much my “curiosity” comes through in my language, and it is absolutely authentic. I’ve been an exceptionally curious human from the start. I’m always asking questions - I just really love learning and understanding how systems work – and I can’t really grasp large picture scenarios without asking questions and diving deeper.
Through my past guests, I’ve had the chance to learn a lot more about the actual process that happens behind the recycling of textiles, which is something of high interest to me. Also, I loved learning more about the cashmere supply chain and the nomadic goat herders in Mongolia that Naadam work with through my chat with their cofounder.
When it comes to style, how do you shop? What are your criteria? And why is this way of shopping important to you?
I used to be a super extremist when it came to what I would / wouldn’t purchase, but my approach has evolved. In all honesty, I absolutely love clothing, aesthetics and styling – it’s something that speaks to my soul and it is absolutely my form of art. I shop via several different approaches. I’m a lover of thrifting, as I can find distinct pieces that will stand out from the crowd. Also, it is sometimes easier to find something wild, vibrant and in my price range when I go the second hand route. I also love to support young designers when I purchase staple pieces, and if I am in need of shoes, I will buy from companies that manufacture locally (for me) in the United States when I can. Overall, my standards aren’t set in stone. I’m open to learning about companies, what they are doing, and where they are in their process to do better. When brands are transparent and honest about their behind-the-scenes, I’m always more apt to support them.
When it comes to sustainable shopping and sustainable living, what are some routines you practice every day to affect positive change and practice conscious consumption?
One practice I’ve implemented over the years that I love is: allowing myself to have a good think before actually making a knee-jerk purchase. If I find something that I love, I give myself time – often at least a week – to think about it, and if I am looking at it again every day, and thinking about it all the time, I think – you know what? I am going to rock this piece and take it far beyond 30 wears! Otherwise, if it falls off my radar, that’s great, and I’m grateful that I didn’t buy something that I wasn’t in love with.
You’re in the process of starting your own label 'Left Edit' - with all that you've learnt about the production side of fashion, were there any hesitations about creating a new product and putting this out into the world? How are you going to take what you know about the industry and apply this to your label?
100%. I have struggled back and forth for years about putting products into the world, but Left Edit is the evolution, and iteration of so many of these feelings, and finding the silver lining amidst it all. No matter what, if you put something out into the world, it has an impact – that’s the reality. However, as a global culture, we are going to continue to buy clothing, and we need more options that help curate, and give us access to the most badass brands and products out there, that also care about the people involved and the environment that’s impacted along the way.
Your slogan for left edit is 'a collaborative approach to the future of fashion’ - can you talk us through what that means to you? Why is collaboration so important?
To us, “a collaborative approach to the future of fashion” is built upon the need to celebrate the brands out there who are putting in the work to transform the industry. It came about as a response to the need for more collaboration in the sustainable fashion space, and a need for more style-driven content and options. Collaboration is key because it helps the movement build momentum and traction faster. We are working hard to bring more accessible options to everyday people … stay tuned … our first big reveal is coming this holiday season!
You've made a conscious decision not to include advertising on your podcast as you seem to be a strong advocate of having integrity. Why is it so important to partner with brands that are aligned with your personal values? In episode #81, you have partnered with ‘Globe In’ – this is the first time an episode has had outside support. Why is this important for the sustainability of the podcast and the future of Conscious Chatter?
I have just recently begun to bring sponsors onto the show, and because I believe so strongly in the message that I am sharing through Conscious Chatter, I am vetting the sponsors that I bring on. It’s important so my listeners trust me, and so the transparency continues through the financial backing of the conversation as well.
When you're selecting guests for your podcast, what are some criteria they have to meet for you to be curious about featuring them?
They have to be open to answer any questions I ask about their supply chain, they need to be doing something unique and innovative in the fashion space, and they need to have a style element present in what they are building.
You are quite the entrepreneur, and like to find the truth behind processes; has starting your own projects always been something that has been important to you and why? And why is being transparent, truthful and peeling back the layers a trait that is important to you?
I just like getting more answers. It’s something I’ve always had within me. My family used to debate on a regular basis at the dinner table – we would discuss politics and events and interactions and beyond. These conversations helped me shape my personal values in an open and direct way. Since then, I’ve never stopped asking questions, challenging statements, and seeking more explanations.
Who is a recent female that has inspired you and why?
Safia Minney inspired me years ago, but she’s been re-inspiring me recently, as I’ve been reading her new book Slave To Fashion. It’s a fabulous book, and reminds me of how far she has come in her work to change the fashion industry, in only the 10 years that she’s been on my radar.
Why do feel as though the podcast medium is the best way to communicate your message?
Audio has a unique ability to bring people in, in an inclusive and open way. When you tune into a podcast, nobody needs to know what you’re listening to, and if you don’t know anything about it, nobody will know. You can tune in, absorb information as fast as it works for you, and take things in however you see fit. It’s a way to join new conversations without feeling outside pressure, or feeling like someone is watching over your shoulder.
What's one thing you want to achieve in your time here on this planet?
I want to give people more access to sustainable fashion, in a way where the aesthetics brings them in first.
You recently read a book 'You Are A Badass', and have been including quotes as text alongside your Instagram photos for your label left edit. Why was this book especially important and what was your biggest take away from it?
I think, especially as a woman, I have constantly questioned my thoughts, my ideas, and their value. I’m sick of questioning my worth, and allowing myself to think these thoughts. You Are A Badass really helped me realize how much I was holding myself back from so many things I strongly believe in, and that I have the power and skills to accomplish.
'Where What We Wear Matters' is your Conscious Chatter slogan – why is it so important that we consider what we wear?
Because what we wear not only says a lot about who we are, the supply chains behind our clothes also impact many people and parts of our environment in the process.
How do you define being conscious?
For me, being conscious means working on your personal awareness, asking questions as much as you can, and developing your own way to interact with the world, in a way that best reflects your values.
You very much inspire us here at tommie because you’re interested in seeking the truth through the art form of story telling. What do you love about stories and the stories that clothes tell?
Stories are my favorite. Historically, stories are what have built us as a global culture. This is the way cultures have evolved, and the way traditions, skills, cooking, style and aesthetics have been passed down from generation to generation. Stories also bring us emotional connection – joy, sadness, happiness, enthusiasm, motivation, etc. Being able to couple the power of stories with what we wear allows us to put so much more confidence, meaning, and self reflection into how we step out into the world.
What does personal style mean to you?
Everything. As I mentioned, personal style for me is an art form. It’s my way of building compositions, and sharing my creative take on the world with those around me.
You are someone who has a very strong work ethic; what is one ritual you practice that helps keep you grounded and centered?
YOGA! …And happy hours in our yard with our two pups. : )
A lot of the photos of yourself, which you share on social media, are in nature. Do you have a connection with your natural environment? Why is it important that we as humans connect with Mother Nature?
Nature is a place of personal importance for me. I grew up in a tiny town in the Midwest, and as a family, we spent a lot of time in the natural world – hiking was our family pastime and it instilled the deep respect I now have for mother nature. Being in the wild helps me relax, it allows me to disconnect and it helps me calm my mind. It’s literally the place I feel most content and at peace.
A lot of ‘creative women with a conscience’ who are entrepreneurs like you are balancing different part time jobs whilst chasing their dream. Are you in this position?
I am indeed, and I’ve come to terms that it’s just part of the process. I am grateful that I can have multiple projects going all the time, by doing several random jobs. Although my passion projects might not always pay for rent, doing side jobs allows me to still have the energy to put my heart into the projects I believe in.
How do you balance your time and what advice would you give to young women starting out?
It’s a constant learning process. I think it’s difficult to listen to your body when it tells you something. I’ve gradually become more aware of it, and if I’m really exhausted and need to just lie on the bed and watch Netflix one afternoon, I let myself. Because then I come back more refreshed and energised the next day.
We’re all about community, collaboration and consciousness here at tommie – I was lucky enough to meet you in real life this year and you are a glowing example of females empowering other females. Why is it so important that we connect and support one another as women?
I am beyond thrilled we were able to meet in real life! You are an absolute gem of a human. <3 I believe we can all learn from each other, and why not help each other get further faster by sharing what we’ve each learned already along the way.