Q+A with Christine Tjahjadi-Lopez, Ethical Fashion Blogger + Social Justice Advocate

Christine Tjahjadi-Lopez is the founding director of “Bloggers Against Social Injustice,” and blogs about faith and fashion on her blog, “Beyoutiful Hope.” An earlier Muse, Cammy Nelson, cited her as an inspiration and we can see why! Not only does she live her ideals, she uses her voice to inspire others to live theirs. As an active advocate for fair and ethical fashion, she advocates for changes small and large that can make the world a better, healthier, more ethical place. 

The Basics

  • Age: 23 going on 8/40 (depending on the day)
  • Location: New York City
  • Field of Interest: International Trade and Ethical Fashion
  • What Inspired You Today? Today I was inspired by my mom. She is such a hard worker and it seems like she never stops. Between bettering herself physically and spiritually on top of her day job, she is simultaneously working on her Ph.D. and I just don’t know how she does it all. I definitely get that “go-getter, always-try-your-hardest” spirit from her!
  • What’s Your Favorite Thing About Yourself? I love that I can always laugh and that I am very self-driven. God has blessed me with the opportunity to share many joyful moments with others and to also inspire others to see joy in the mundane.  I am definitely a goofball, and a kid at heart. I would say that my online persona through my blog is much more polished than if you were speaking to me in person. I like that in one moment I may be studying hard-core, blocking out the world, and in the next moment I would be leaning over to my friend asking her to imagine what life would be like from the perspective of a stick bug. This funny point of view that I hold definitely keeps my life interesting. As far as being self-driven, I was always told that doing my best, and trying my hardest not only honors God, but utilizes the many talents I was given as an individual. At times, this becomes stressful for me, which is why I am now learning methods to take life more chill, while still doing my best. An important lesson I learned recently is that trying your best and always going a step beyond is important, but without a healthy body, happy mind and whole spirit you really aren’t being you while at work. This is why sometimes it’s very important to put yourself first. :)​

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Questions +Answers

1. You are a passionate advocate for ethical fashion. What does that mean? How is it different from other kinds of fashion, i.e. fast fashion or even high fashion, and why is it important to know the difference?

The term ethical fashion is still being defined. However, to me ethical fashion is fashion with responsibility (for the workers, the environmental impact production has, how companies affect communities they locate in, and overall transparency).

2. As a Christian, is there a relationship between your emphasis on sustainability and environmental awareness and your religious beliefs?

My faith is the most important thing to me and I am definitely growing every day. I am a believer in Jesus Christ, and His teachings. As such I always try my best to care for others and show them love, including those in most need (although I have to say I do not always succeed).

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Looking at the injustices of workers and determent to the environment caused by and in the fashion industry, I feel that this responsibility to care for others transfers over to how clothing is made. I actually began fashion blogging for fun, but once I realized the relationship between human trafficking and the fashion industry, in the form of labor trafficking and child labor, I decided to become an anti-human trafficking advocate in my local community and an ethical fashion consumer, and thus an ethical fashion blogger.

3. For many, the idea of “ethical fashion” may bring to mind images of tie-dye and dreadlocks. However, you embody a different reality! What would you say to people who may have a narrower understanding of ethical and sustainable fashion? 

I just had a conversation about exactly this with my cousin yesterday! People like that do still exist. However, it is now 2015, and just as all things, fashion has greatly diversified! Ethical fashion offers minimalist chic modern styles (Yarina from Fashion Hedge), minimalist luxury styles (Elizabeth from The Note Passer), casual basics (Hannah from Life Style Justice), eclectic styles (Katie from Eco Vintage), vintage styles (Leah from Style Wise), sustainable living mom styles (Wendy from Moral Fibres) and my boho casual style (at Beyoutiful Hope)!

I will say that my style is a mix of casual boho and basics with a splash of color. So yes, that dreadlocks style still exists, but it is no longer the rule. Definitely check out my list of ethical fashion bloggers to see for yourself!

4. How can people incorporate ethical choices into their wardrobe, if they’re not ready to fully make the shift? How do thrift and vintage shopping fit into ethical fashion?

Thrifting and vintage shopping are the best forms of sustainably consumption, because you are neither throwing away or creating new apparel, both of which have environmental impacts. Therefore, thrift away!

As far as making new purchases, it is true that being a conscious consumer is difficult. This is especially true because store-front ethical fashion options are very limited. But for starters, try HM Conscious Collection, Patagonia, ASOS GreenRoom. Here’s a post I wrote to help the Average Person shimmy into conscious fashion consumption.

[As mentioned above] I also have a growing List of Ethical Fashion Companies which have U.S. shipping! Although the price points are higher, you have to remember that shopping ethically means purchasing less, and so your spending should not increase dramatically, since you are purchasing less. Also, remember to shop sales (Black Friday is coming up and many of these brands participate)! I honestly only purchase clothing 1-3xs a year, and Black Friday is one of those times.
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5. You do an excellent job of featuring makers and craftsmen from around the world, like leather workers from Guatemala and jewelry makers from Peru. What is one of your favorite stories from communicating from artisans around the world?

I only started interviewing ethical fashion companies about a year ago. Since I have begun graduate school, the questions I ask have become much more critical and precise, since I know more about the global production chains and issues that arise in the fashion industry.

My favorite interview: Kurandza! The founder, Elisabetta, spent two years with Peace Corps working with the ladies who now make up Kurandza. I love how she is working hand-in-hand with the ladies, and allows them to take part in decision-making

My favorite company structure: Raven + Lily! I love that this company has beautiful designs and is Corporation B Certified, sources locally, and works with economically marginalized women’s groups around the world.

6. From your images and your writing, it’s clear that you’re a joyful and vibrant person. All of your pictures have such vibrant colors! What role does color play in your life, and do you have a favorite color?

Oh, why thank you, so I have been told! We all have our up and down days – I have definitely had my fair share of those. However, in generally I have quite an up-beat, bubbly personality and am a people person.

I grew up being reminded daily that every day is a blessing from God. It is true, I have realized for myself that every day IS an opportunity to leave a positive impact on the world, and so it is up to me and each of us as individuals to look at the positives and push ourselves to remember how very blessed we are in every moment. You never know whose day you are changing for the better and you never know when your last day on Earth is. Even if I can brighten someone’s day and share at least a little bit of God’s love with them, I have had a good day!

As far as my favorite color, I have never had one. How can you pick when so many beautiful colors exist. My favorite colors are pink, blue, yellow, and green!

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7. Who inspires you?

  1. Kam Phillips: I was connected with Kam through a mutual friend, either that or Twitter. I can’t actually remember. She is founder of Dream Outside the Box. Her nonstop passion to help those in inner-city communities across the nation reach their highest potentials is exemplary!
  2. Nadia Dawkinsha: It is actually interesting that a professor of mine suggested Nadia’s blog, Listen Girlfriends, to me! After reading her blog’s posts on ethical fashion and human trafficking, and how they are connected, I reached out. Nadia is such a fiery and driven individual. Her passion and heart for justice are inspiring and are exhibited in her work in the Title IX movement.
  3. Brittany Partridge: I first reached out to Brittany for advice as I was applying for the Truman Fellowship, a nationally competitive fellowship she had won the previous year. Her work in anti-trafficking, founding the Red Threads Movement, and currently the Title IX movement is academic and community-based. Brittany is so eloquent and intelligent, and still very kind and passionate about her work.
  4. Anna Malika: I met Anna Malika through an anti-trafficking meeting at a local church, and had her speak at an anti-trafficking event I held at my alma mater. Such a loving and strong personality, Anna is a survivor advocate in the anti-trafficking organization who even began her own fashion line withElegantees, a women’s apparel company with the clothing sewn by survivors, as a safe job opportunity program.
  5. Mary David: I connected with Mary David through a mutual friend, and it turns out we had more mutual friends in common than we had initially known! Mary David is an anti-trafficking advocate, based in DC. She is also a pageant winner, using her platform to educate the public about human trafficking.
+ Has this inspired you to make more ethical fashion choices? Know anyone else working passionately for social justice? Tell us!
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