This week we have the privilege of learning more about Mariko, who is absolutely lovely in every way. I fell in love with her style and her content, and her writing style is poignant and inspiring. She has a heart for people, especially those who are marginalized and exploited, and advocates for others with a resolution that is convicting. She has a wealth knowledge to share, so read on to be inspired!
Tell me a little about yourself – Who are you? Where are you from/living, etc?
“My name is Mariko Sandico-Lee, and I’m a 4th gen. Japanese American, 2nd gen. Filipino American writer, yogi, and slow-fashion enthusiast. I grew up in Bothell, a city just outside of Seattle; and have lived in the area for the majority of my life. I went to college at the University of Washington, studying American Ethnic Studies and minoring in education, and went into full-time ministry right after graduating. My husband and I now live in an apartment in Seattle, with our 8-month old kitten.”
How did you first get into ethical/sustainable fashion?
“My studies in college brought to light a number of issues regarding systemic oppression and injustice that were inflicted particularly on marginalized people-groups. As I became educated on how systemic oppression plays out in the political, educational, and cultural arenas of American society; I developed a personal passion to work for equity for the most marginalized of people groups.
I’ve always enjoyed fashion – but it didn’t take much digging to discover that much of the way American consumerism is structured puts already-marginalized groups at even higher risk. I realized that my purchases (and consumption over all) have a direct impact on the places and people that contribute to creating the garments we buy – be it positive, or negative (which unfortunately, it’s usually negative). It’s much more profitable for companies to cut corners in the production process, putting people and the environment at risk for the sake of producing fast-fashion pieces quicker, and in higher volume. This leads to a seemingly-endless cycle of mass production, overconsumption, and over-disposal of cheaply-made garments that ultimately take from and harm the environment and the people who are actually making our clothes. Clothing waste has come to be one of the largest contributors to landfill, and garment workers are made to work in unsafe conditions, under unlivable wages.
All this being said, I thought it important that my lifestyle holistically reflect one that contributes towards justice and equity, my consumption-habits included. Clothing consumption was one of the areas in life I recognized could really use some re-working, so I started researching companies, blogs, and apps that might help me take steps toward a healthier relationship with clothing. I ended up finding quite a bit a joy in this process of learning, and have found Ethical Fashion to be an incredible space to explore the intersectionality of justice, creativity, and personal character development.”
What’s something you really want other people to know about ethical/sustainable fashion?
“Ethical fashion certainly works better respecting the our planet through sustainable sourcing, consumption, and production. However, I find it even more important that those interested in Ethical Fashion recognize the massive importance of prioritizing the wellbeing of the people that are impacted by our participation in ethical consumerism.
Is the humanity of each person involved in the process of creating our clothing honored? (be it through working conditions, payment/benefits, and representation of those faces in a brand’s media) Is the ethical fashion space itself honoring of all people – in particular, BIPOC (Black & Indigenous People of Color)? Are those leading sustainable fashion companies representative of all people? Ultimately, ethical fashion should speak for itself in answering these questions – not just in the ways its’ relationship with the environment is shown to be ‘ethical’, but especially in the relationship that the industry has with people.”
Who are your inspirations (ethical fashion or otherwise)?
“In ethical fashion / minimalism, I’ve been particularly inspired by IG accounts like @clothedinabundance , @littlekotoscloset , @brownkids , and @soundslikeawin. I love how these accounts engage actively with the intersection of slow fashion / minimalist living, and equity / representation.
Outside of the ethical fashion space (since I’m equally as invested in holistic wellness, yoga included), I really love what @cbquality , @gofitjo , and @livingminally have to say. They’re such thoughtful women that approach the wellness industry with a much-needed critical and educated perspective.”
What is one of your current favorite items of clothing you own?
“I’m a big fan of practicality, so I love all of the Vetta Capsule pieces I own. Each piece can be worn at least two ways. In particular, I really love the 3-way oversized cardigan I was lucky enough to find on Poshmark. I personally like the oversized look, and think it’s amazing that it can be worn as a cardigan, a crewneck, or a turtleneck.”
What are you reading, listening to, and/or watching right now?
“I’ve recently subscribed to The Good Trade newsletter, which has been an amazing resource for thoughtful articles, podcasts, brands, and music artists. They send a letter each day containing great content regarding ethical consumerism, wellness, and sustainable living in general.
I’m also reading through Michelle Obama’s Becoming, the Crazy Rich Asians series, and Eastern Body Western Mind. I’m the type of person that likes to have different types of reading material that I’m invested in at any given time, dependent on my mood – something educational, something just for fun, and something to expand my worldview (typically a narrative that’s different from my own experience as an Asian American woman).
My tv shows range from Criminal Minds, to Stranger Things, to more lighthearted shows like The Good Place – likely for similar reasons that my reading habits consist of different genres at any given time!”
Where can we find you? (blog, social media, interviews, etc.)
“You can find my writing on my website, www.marikowrites.com. I write on topics ranging from mental health and wellness, to ethical consumerism, to personal growth and ethnic identity (really, whatever’s on my mind that month).
For slow fashion and yoga content, I post quite a bit on Instagram @marikoashley .
You can also find some of my writing on www.artfullyseeking.com (these pieces are spiritually and religiously themed).”
I absolutely loved this interview with Mariko and I hope you did too! Please check her out on all her platforms for more inspiration!