Updated: Sep 14, 2020
When I first met my lovely guest Diandra Marizet, she was still living in New York, working at Kate Spade and curating a lovely list of sustainable brands on her blog at diandramarizet.com. Touched by her mission, this month on the Shero Story Series I'd like to reveal her inspiring journey full of unlearning & growth and offer you more insights about Intersectional Environmentalist - a new platform that amplifies voices of BIPOC within the sustainability movement.
Dear D, please tell us, how did you get to where you are today? We’re all primed to care about our shared Earth when we learn about each other + animals + food as children, but somewhere along the way capitalism creeps in and makes us shift our mindsets to accommodate greed under the premise of "self-advocacy". It's a nuanced navigation that even I am still working through today. Years ago when I moved from Texas to Manhattan to pursue my buying career, I tried to become more in-tune with this while working in the home category. Learning about the world of home goods, I became more aware of the role artisanal craft plays in retail, and I began spending weekends at coffee shops learning more about artisans and the struggles they face creating the goods we buy. As my career shifted into ready-to-wear at Kate Spade, I continued asking the same questions and, before I knew it, I was exploring the intersectionality between many different topics that revealed layers upon layers of exploitation. I needed to reassess my own relationship with consumption, remove myself from the culturally toxic nature of the fashion industry, and decide how I was going to make a difference. I quit my job, left the fashion industry, and started looking from the outside in. Everything that informs my work has been in an effort to unlearn the things that capitalism has taught us while encouraging others to explore a new normal with me and my friends. Today, I'm a cofounder of Intersectional Environmentalist, which means I will be able to harness many of the cultural + ethical + sustainability concerns from my incredible online community and help businesses build in strategic accountability so we can all move forward towards the new normal we want to exist in.
Recently you've been re-inventing the way social media represents environmentalism by highlighting the intersectional aspects of environmental injustice. What or who inspired you to use your voice to spread this awareness? There have been so many important seeds planted in my own life before even starting my conscious journey. Growing up in an environment that didn't value women left me yearning for clarity as to why, caring for horses + cleaning beaches + volunteering to rehabilitate dolphins gave me a glimpse of what it means to be a steward in your own community, and watching me and my punk friends relish in harmful + wasteful behavior (that I would totally partake in too) made me hungry for a progressive community that would foster more intention + connectedness. I wanted to change and wanted a community that would support my growth. When I moved to Manhattan with little to no community in the sustainability space, I found solace online by connecting with writers, podcast hosts, and creators just like me. Kestrel Jenkins was one of the first mindfully focused fashion advocates I encountered through her podcast, Conscious Chatter. Whitney Bauck is a reporter at Fashionista, and she was one of the first writers that I started following, and I thought it was so badass that Fashionista was letting her talk about real nuanced controversy with consumption. As a whole, the start of my journey was heavily inspired by white & white-passing women which was still life-changing and I’m super grateful for their work, but my journey has taken on a whole new meaning now that I’ve caught on to the under amplification of BIPOC. I’ve been introduced to POC that are using culture + ancestry to help reframe consumption and this vital perspective inspires me everyday to embrace my own background in a way that traditional environmental movements never invited me to. Leah Thomas, Dominique Drakeford, Stevie Vanhorn are incredible activists that are bringing much needed missing pieces to the environmental movement and I have learned to place great value in helping people diversify where they learn from and I hope my work through IE can help.
Congrats on co-founding the Intersectional Environmentalist! Your life took quite the turn in the past few months and I love it. How did you find this diverse group of individuals or did they find you? What is your favorite part about working with the council members?
The IE Council came together so naturally. As people who have been working in this space, admiring the incredible work of leaders in it, we knew exactly who we wanted to launch the council with to help create the guiding heart of IE. As our mission grows, we have so much opportunity to continue expanding the perspectives driving our mission through representation via The Council, Community Leaders, Topic Leaders, artists, and more. My favorite part of how beautifully this all manifested is that it's truly a community-led grassroots effort that has already exceeded what I could have ever hoped for. I want others to feel the same about the community they have on our platform and that's what we'll keep working towards BTS.
In what direction do you see IE going in the next few years? What is your dream with this platform? My biggest hope is that IE becomes a space where people know they can look within to find guidance, mentors, resources, education, inspiration and more. The little Mexican chick sitting by herself at the coffee shop researching how to make the world better from years ago is already watching me live the dream inside this community. My dream is fighting alongside those who know the work is never done, and I want to be very intentional about recognizing that I'm here, it's happening, the dream is alive. If you had a message you would like to share with young people passionate about sustainability and the environment, what would it be?
A personal thought I've stuck by that has kept me moving when things get overwhelming is,
"We are not bound to our current perspectives, but to the evolution of them. Don’t sweat."
For more inspiring stories, check out the full Shero Story gallery, featuring badass female leaders.
model: Diandra Marizet
photo credit: Sabrina Katz
editing & art direction: Laura Baross