Living Sustainably – An Imperfect Journey As Told By A Fashionista

Interview With Cassandra Ciarallo from Chic Made Consciously

By Chris Roberts & Brigid Elmy

Chris Roberts and Brigid Elmy founded the Leslieville Flea, a curated market in Toronto’s east end.  One of the driving values behind the market is the promotion of products and small business owners who value sustainably and strive to make it a part of their lives. One such business and business owner is Cassandra Ciarallo from Chic Made Consciously, a sustainable jewelry line.

Chris and Brigid interviewed Cassandra to find out more about her sustainably made jewelry line.

CR/ BE: Explain your attitude/values when it comes to living sustainably?

CC: To me, I believe that living sustainably means allowing for more space and conscious awareness/mindfulness when making purchasing decisions. Thinking holistically about how an item was made, who was affected in the process and the story behind it. By taking a moment to pause and think about that story, means there is an opportunity for curiosity, and perhaps a dialogue about these issues. I believe it’s important to be conscious consumers and do our part to be involved in these conversations. Asking these questions allows consumers the power to make purchasing decisions that align with their own values and leave you feeling good!

However, I have learned that living sustainably can be challenging to feel like change needs to happen all at once. Instead should be looked at as a gradual process. There is no one solution or one perfect way to do it, so knowing that doing your best is important and being proud of yourself for your small steps and change along the journey is important!

CR/ BE: What habits do you have in your everyday life that allow you to live sustainably?

CC: Over the years, and since starting Chic Made Consciously, my life has transformed in my approach to living sustainably. Years ago, I often consumed fast fashion without questioning the processing behind the scenes or workers rights. It was my first time meeting one of our artisans, Dana, in Bali allowed me to see that there is a human being behind everything that is made. As mentioned previously, asking questions is number one. Secondly, I would say doing research. Find out as much information as you can to make sound decisions. Sometimes, it’s not easy or the information you want might not be available, so I do my best to make the most appropriate decision at hand. I try my best to shop at farmers markets, pop up markets and shop in small boutiques to support the local economy instead of large corporate chains. Furthermore, one question that has helped me shift from buying quantity to investing in quality, is asking myself “Do I really need this new thing?” It allows me to make sure that before just buying something and spending money, that I really love it, that it’s a good investment that aligns with my values.

“I believe that we have immense power as consumers and as we continue to vote with our dollars, we will continue to see things in society continue to change based on how we choose” – Cassandra Ciarallo

CR/ BE: What things do you find difficult as you try to live sustainably?

CC: Access to information and convenience. It does take more effort to live a sustainable lifestyle, but it’s a conscious choice that leaves me feeling good every time! Referring back to my answers above has made it much easier on my journey and now it’s just part of who I am. I am in no way perfect, but as I continue to make decisions that align with my values I feel happier with who I am purchasing from and ultimately allows me to live a more fulfilled life knowing that my investments are helping both people and planet!

Check out Cassandra’s sustainable designs at Chic Made Consciously

Publisher’s Note: Christine Roberts is a stylist, event designer, and  co founder of the Leslieville Flea.  In addition to co-founding the Leslieville Flea, Brigid Elmy manages special projects at The Chang School, Ryerson University