Through #ashwhitestories my hope is to interview some of our customers and followers and learn more about their fashionable life and how they incorporate sustainability into their lives. We love hearing from you and learning about the adventures our garments go on after purchase and how they become a part of your life.
First up for these series is Jac Lee, who is originally from Brisbane however now lives in Germany as she explores new vistas and cities in Europe.
Here is our discussion around topics which are important to ash white.
Brisbane, Australia (family now lives in Noosa)
Can you share a story that is intrinsically connected to something you have worn?
During one of my first conversations with a stranger in German since moving to Munich, an elderly lady on the train told me I looked very chic and she liked my style. We spoke (in my broken German) for a few stops about where I got what piece of clothing and general niceties until I had to leave, but that small comment from someone so unexpected made me so happy! The rest of the day I kept smiling and thinking about that kind old lady. I was wearing loose fitting high waisted white linen pants, an old faded Rolling Stones tee, and a white and blue striped linen blazer. Now some of my favourite items!
What does ethical fashion mean for you?
Ethical fashion to me has many different facets. A couple of years ago I stopped buying fast fashion and started investing in well made, quality items that I knew I wouldn’t toss away after a few wears. I started selling my old clothes at markets, worried that they would otherwise be wasted. It was a big switch for me, but it started to open so many more doors. I started thinking not only about where my clothes were going after I bought them, but also where they came from before they came into my hands. Having friends and family who have started clothing businesses of their own, I became more familiar with how workers are taken advantage of to produce cheap clothing in mass production. I don’t claim to be incredibly knowledgeable about the particulars, but I did learn enough to encourage myself to think twice about who makes my clothes, where they come from, and who is benefiting from the sales. Spending a little bit extra can go a long way to ensure you are contributing positively to peoples lives and the environment.
Tell us about your craft and why you are passionate about it?
I’m a photographer trying to make my own way and create a business and name for myself. I went to a prestigious college in the United States, graduated with a bachelor of science in Kinesiology and planned to return to Australia to study medicine. After a year of saving, I bought a new camera and equipment and fell even more in love with photography. I realised many things during this year of my life, including the importance of following what you are passionate about and the benefits of working your ass off to get there. It is sometimes disheartening, often frustrating, and will take a lot of time, dedication, and risk taking, but the risk of not trying to do what you love is far worse.
What values define your purchases?
I always think about how much use I’d actually give an item, and nowadays generally only buy from small boutiques or people who are directly associated with the brand. I love direct communication with the people who are heavily invested in the brand and have an understanding and abide by certain environmental and human ethics. Then you not only are happy about your new items but you feel like you’ve done a good deed as well!
How would you describe your style?
I’d love to be one of those people who always look incredibly stylish and put together, but I’m more of a gym clothes and sweatpants kind of girl from day to day. Other than that, if I’m traveling around or want to go out, my go to is simple linens, white tops, loose high waisted pants, a simple well cut pair of jeans and a statement blazer if I need to go a bit more!
What is your day job?
I am an au-pair in Munich. I work long hours and it is often difficult to find time for myself, as I have to make the family I work for my priority for the most part, but it also has some incredible perks.
How do you relax after a long day?
Coffee and a good book!
Best advice you’ve been given?
A good family friend told me something a year or so ago that stuck with me. If you are giving too much to somebody who is not emotionally ready to receive it, they will push you away. This is not limited to intimate relationships; this could to a co-worker, a boss, a friend, a family member, anybody. Putting somebody else before yourself only works if that person is emotionally ready and able to accept what you are offering. If you give too much to the wrong people, not only will they not appreciate what you are doing, but it will take a toll on you as well. I’m not saying to be a heartless and selfish person, but the opposite; be generous, be loving, be supportive, and go that little bit (or sometimes a lot) extra for someone. But do it for the right people.
Most memorable experience?
Driving solo through Bosnia and Montenegro. I saw some of the most incredible sights and could take as much time as I wanted anywhere. Driving will always be my favourite way to see the world.
Early bird or night owl?
VERY early bird!
If you were gifted a holiday somewhere, where would you go and why?
Scotland is so far the most beautiful place I have been and I would go back in a heartbeat. As for places I haven’t been, maybe to New Zealand.
One thing you’d like to do in your lifetime?
Husky sledding for a week in northern Finland sleeping in igloos.
Describe your most favourite piece of clothing and why?
A white linen long wide leg jumpsuit that ties up at the shoulders from BAE (a label from Noosa). It is incredibly comfortable and I’ve worn it so many times to so many different occasions. Amazing quality and I always feel confident and stylish in it!
For me, human connection is...
For me, human connection is essential to true happiness. Its is being completely who you are, with no guards up or concerns of what someone may think of you, and having this quality mirrored back to you. It doesn't happen with everybody you meet, but every now and then you meet people who immediately make you feel secure and happy. You can't put your finger on the exact reason why you feel so content around new people, but that is the beauty of true human connection. You can sit in silence and feel no awkwardness or necessity to fill the silence. It is honest, comforting, and real. It's like food for the soul.
Thank you Jac for your insight and beautiful images for ash white. We love hearing your stories and thoughts on sustainable fashion. To see some of Jac's work be sure to follow her on instagram! @itsjaclee