In November of 1993, Kate set off on a journey to Nepal and India taking a break from college to do a bit of soul searching. During her trip she immersed herself in the cultures, and while doing so she curated accessories made by the local artisans she got to know. Her plan was to sell at various marketplaces and shops set-up outside of rock shows of her favorite bands such as Phish and The Grateful Dead. At a Phish show, she met Henry her to be husband and business partner of Synergy Clothing who was at the time working for an environmental non-profit organization. Kate’s intended 8-month college leave turned into a 5 year exploration going back between traveling and returning to the states to re-sell accessories, leading to the birth of Synergy clothing.
A natural drive for entrepreneurialism, Kate started her first business selling ice cream in high school. With a constant itch to create and build something new, her self-starter spirit is well ingrained in her. Even while she was taking on college courses after she returned from her hiatus, Kate was managing her small basement business in between classes which would become the Synergy Clothing we know and adore today. At the time she was selling hand-made embroidered clothing crafted by artisans in Nepal. A business that started from selling ready-made clothes evolved into an endeavor to create uniquely designed clothing by Kate herself. Her earliest designs came from turning recycled Sari fabric from an Indian marketplace into Western style clothing. To this day Kate is the sole creative vision behind Synergy Clothing. She draws inspiration for her designs from overseas, rock ‘n’ roll shows, urban street culture and a classical New York City style that is more innate to her, having grown up in the Big Apple.
Synergy organically grew into a brand that encompassed what she values personally by implementing sustainable practices and ethics. The businesses of fast fashion has grown exponentially in the past decade, but Synergy is not a brand that caters to it. Having built strong personal heart-to-heart relationships with the women who make the clothes, fair working conditions and wages are embedded values of Synergy from its very start. With every opportunity, Synergy gives back to support women’s rights in Nepal. Visit their site to check out all the charities they donate to. Also driven by an environmentally conscious mindset, all the brand’s clothes are made from recycled fabrics or organic cotton.
The dynamic duo behind Synergy include Kate as the Creative Director and Henry as the CEO/ CFO. Kate’s story and vision that built Synergy, and Henry’s passion to help drive something much bigger for the company, harmoniously worked to grow Synergy into the brand it is today.
Next month on February 1st, Synergy will be entering Whole Foods all over the U.S. and Ontario, taking over the clothing basics program.*
*Please note that not all their clothes are vegan as they do carry items made from recycled wool.
Most days of the week I keep it simple because it’s more time and thought I can give myself for other important things throughout my day. With today’s post, I would say each piece that makes up my outfit can be a staple in most people’s wardrobe: a white button down shirt, a waist belt, high waisted denim, and black booties. It’s an easy combination to throw on when you don’t have the desire to waste any ounce of energy that day picking out an outfit, allowing your morning routine to run more smoothly. Understanding what outfit works for you aka your uniform will do wonders with sustainability and keeping your wardrobe minimal, and less overwhelming.
As a recovering shopaholic, I have been getting better and better at extending my sustainable practices to purchasing items from brands that prioritize and practice earth-friendly techniques and ethical principles. Two brands featured here include, Bhava and Will’s Vegan Shoes, both are companies that focus on producing conscious footwear and accessories, advocating a life that supports no harm to animals and humans.
I’m wearing the Cork Waist belt by BHAVA. They are definitely all around when it comes to sustainable and ethical fashion, keeping the planet, the animals, the workers, and the consumers in mind. You can learn more about their cause and principles here.
Wills Vegan Shoes is another wonderful brand with beautifully designed shoes from sneakers to booties. Their priority is ethics, as they create shoes that are animal-friendly while being fair and doing right by the humans who make them. Their entire line is also designed to be wearable all year-round. Way to go for sustainability.
Photos snapped by my dearest, Kathleen. iphone 7.
Outfit Details*: Free People Shirt (similar here) || BHAVA Cork Waist Belt || J Brand High-waisted Denim || Will’s Vegan Shoes Boots
*100% Vegan. 100% cruelty-free.
My car rolled 8 mph, crunching over muddy gravel inching towards my two o’ clock appointment several feet ahead at end of the driveway . Upon arriving, I was greeted by a sweet dog and a smiling couple who invited the group of us into their cozy abode from the on and off rain fall. Settling on sofas and chairs among each other, our focus drew in on an introductory video playing on the television about PreetiRang Sanctuary and their mission. Two years ago, the founders of PreetiRang gave up their comfortable Silicon Valley tech jobs to dedicate their lives to the farm animals who suffer daily from cruel confinements on animal farms.
Madhulika and Michael led us on the joyous tour ahead despite the cold wind and the sprinkling rain. We first stepped into a muddy mass where the cows gathered, as our rain boots glopped and suctioned into the wet mud with every step. “Watch your feet” was the only warning they gave as we went to meet the cows. These large animal’s steps could leave a really bad bruise on our toes if someone got unlucky. I was smiling from ear to ear as the group of cows welcomed my pats and rubs. Each of their personalities shined as we spent time with them.
Harvey is on the left and Shiva is on the right and they were inseparable the entire time, making their bond ever so apparent.
This big guy is Chester. Standing up he was 6 feet tall, and although he was the largest of the bunch, gentle giant is a suitable nickname for him.
The only one who wasn’t receiving our excessive tummy pats and head scratches, was this one. Madhulika and Michael also forewarned us that Ganesha was still building up trust to humans beings. However, he still joined the circle as he watched us and slowly inched closer among us. I was sure he was yearning for a bit of attention too, so I did sneak in a quick pat and he was quite receptive and sweet. As PreetiRang is his new home, we hope that this very place will help him let his guard down as he makes new friends, and builds a new bond with humans.
For months, Vishnu (above) roamed the mountains of Santa Cruz, CA after escaping from an Angus beef slaughterhouse. He lived those months in fear hiding from humans who were to him, the monsters. He was eventually coaxed in by a horse ranch owner. He had to be auctioned off or returned because he was branded aka owned by the Angus cattle farm.
Arriving at PreetiRang, as soon as his trailer doors flew open he charged out in protection and fear. First confused that there was no one in his way and no men prodding him, he then made the connection after seeing the open field in front of him; Vishnu galloped back and forth across the wide field bellowing.
Madhulika receives licks and nuzzles from Tulsi and simultaneously pats attention-seeking Gandalf between his beautiful massive goat horns. Prior to starting the sanctuary, Madhulika had no knowledge of running a farm, neither did she have experience with raising farm animals. Her connection and care for these animals would fool you.
Norman runs towards us with his eyes gleaming, as he is called over for dinner time. This young cow was born with three legs on a beef cattle farm and was sentenced to death for his disability by the farm owner. The farmer’s wife, feeling that he needed to be given a chance as the problem could have resulted from incorrect breeding, convinced her husband to give him a new home instead. When cows or any farm animals are born with disadvantages, they are deemed unprofitable for farmers and are normally executed without consideration. This is a common practice in the meat business and all industries that breed and collect animals for profit whether it is meat, dairy, egg, animal skin, or animal fur.
Welcome to the hen house. Ex-game hens and ex-egg hens reside in this area.
On egg farms, hens lay up to 300 eggs a year in comparison to wild hens who lay on average 15 eggs annually. This unnatural process commonly leads to diseases such as osteoporosis resulting in early deaths, cutting their lifespan by more than half. When their egg production declines, they are gassed to death or when gassing becomes too costly, the hens are thrown away and left to suffocate as they are piled on top of each other.
These hens also have a difficult time eating as their beaks are cut off as a standard procedure for hens on egg farms. It took several tries for them to pick up the grape halves Madhulika was sprinkling in front of them.
PreetiRang sanctuary is a close-knit family of animals and people, and is going on two years old. Family friendly, this is a great place to bring your children to educate and expose them to farm animals. Or if one weekend you feel up for taking a drive, check out PreetiRang to meet some sweet and friendly animals.
“Activism is my rent for living on this planet.”
– Alice Walker
Visit PreetiRang Sanctuary if you are ever wandering Northern California.
Located in Dixon, CA.
Facebook: Preetirang Sanctuary
There is no fluidity in terms of editing, just followed the feeling given off by each individual photo.
Photos from August 2015.
Taken in Florence & Cinque Terre, Italy.
There is such a world to call your own
Indeed a place exists
Trinkets from your childhood
only the best kind collected
The ones that made your eyes
and your insides shriek
with pure joy
Diaries from your past
written of the unimaginable places
you once dreamt up
when you were just a girl
Who’d have ever thought
They’d come alive
The merry-go-round spins,
Your hair flies
in all directions,
Your body sways
with the movement,
But in circles,
You throw your head back
out of your chest,
darting side to side
So much to see,
So much to take in
You search for answers
You plead for chugging
But your seat is not inside
You’ve chosen to ride
atop a glass horse
with memories and
that is to be adored
Nearly three years ago, I made a conscious decision to commit life-long as a vegan. I’ve never shared the mindset that animals are inferior to humans, especially in order to justify how they are treated in factory farms; yet it took a year of constant pondering before I fully transitioned into a 100% vegan lifestyle. It was purely for superficial and selfish reasons – I wanted to make sure I could sustain it while still living my comfortable, present life. This meant throwing away all the leather shoes that I had carefully collected throughout the years, giving up weekly frozen yogurt indulgences, and checking every label from the tags on my clothes to the ingredients in my make up, down to household products. We all have our faults. (And yup, we exploit animals that much.) Also, it had been years since I had seen footage of animal cruelty in factory farms; essentially I became so removed from it.
At 15 years old, I watched a PETA clip of the terrifying and absolute grotesqueness that occurs rampantly in factory farms – it was undercover footage at KFC, and that shit was brutal. I went vegetarian the next day, and pledged never to eat meat again. I was selfless and ambitious in that I wanted to make a change within myself and these animal’s lives. It didn’t feel right that they were going through that much suffering at the cost of indulging in a meal. I got so much shit for going vegetarian from family members, friends, and even strangers. Although it was a personal choice of mine, people projected their views on to me as if it was their own life I was threatening. According to them, I was going to get a disease or I was going to starve to death because humans are meant to eat meat. On the contrary, humans are facultative omnivores as our guts are able to digest the meat, however we are obligate herbivores as our bodies are designed to help us survive entirely off a plant based diet. As humans adapted to a diet suited to ingesting cooked animal flesh, we created businesses to provide us this luxury, however in turn thousands of animal’s lives are put through pain and torture, every second of every day. Meat and dairy industries spend on average 500 billion dollars yearly in advertisements to convince you. They do so in order to keep their businesses alive, and it has trickled into what is the societal norm for what has become our mindless eating habits. That is the power of advertising my friends, and we are all victims. They tell us that we are “supposed” to eat meat, as raw flesh is stacked endlessly on grocery store shelves. If it is so normal to slaughter for food, why are so many people unaware of what actually goes on behind closed doors? Why is it that the meat and dairy industries refuse to be transparent about the way the animals are treated within their facilities, so much that people have to sneak undercover footage to reveal the haunting and terrifying massacre that goes on? We don’t recognize that the steak on our dinner plate was a living, breathing, and sentient being, because if we did that would make us monsters. We are desensitized. Euphemisms are used to describe their flesh, such as pork and beef, but you’re still eating a tortured and slaughtered animal who was never been given a proper chance to live freely.
People make so many excuses to continue eating meat and wearing leather. “We require meat for survival” is the oldest excuse in the book. When there is an abundance of fruit and vegetables, and a large numerical difference of plant-based foods in comparison to farmed animals for meat, how would our chance of survival become critical by going vegan? When a major factor of environmental damage and climate change is due to animal agriculture, what becomes the real threat of our survival? I continued wearing leather because I told myself it was just a byproduct of the meat industry, and it would go to waste otherwise. I now understand that whatever part of the animal I take for my own pleasure, I am contributing to the innocent animal’s disgusting demise. This realization and lifestyle change made me dedicate a chunk of my blog to cruelty-free fashion. I have always been a supporter of fur-less fashion since I was very very young. With this mindset and by putting in a small effort to understand the aspects of all the animal byproducts we wear, it was so clear to me why if you’re fur-free, you should be wearing 100% animal-free. I learned that wool isn’t just harmoniously shaved off the animal, that a down comforter is full of feathers plucked straight from birds, and that leather is an industry in itself. All of this made me realize how wrong and twisted everything is; we are so brainwashed into thinking this shit is just OK to do. It is against the law to lay a hand on a dog, but WHY is a cow any different? Because someone told you so? Cows have the capacity to give you just as much love as the dog you live at home with. It did not make sense that I was discriminating against other animals; I was undermining their pain by only recognizing those who society has normalized to love. Just because it isn’t spelt out for us and more visible, does not make it right. Fur is most apparent as what it is, not only because the product is in it’s whole and creepy form, but that it is an “exotic” fashion; fur is exclusive and it’s for the “rich”. Therefore the lot of us see it for what it is because it’s not advertised for and inclusive of all of us. We are talking about what everyone else is saying, instead of paying attention to what is morally just. I refuse to live simply according to what the majority follows just because it would make my life “easier”. If my life is a little more difficult because of it, so be it. I will not stand by in ignorance. I will live in awareness of myself and my surroundings, listening to what my gut tells me because all the shit people do to animals is so, so wrong. Along with being fur-free, I am wool-free, leather-free, and all animal by-product free. Being vegan means that we live ethically, consciously, and compassionately everyday for the animals and this planet.
Compassion and empathy comes to us at a young age. The other day, I saw a little girl and boy playing together by a pond surrounded by ducks, and become enthused by the sight of them. Their eyes sparkled and they clapped their hands in excitement; you could see how much just seeing and being around these animals filled them with so much joy. This made me think about what our society has led us to think versus our natural instinct as humans. When you take your children to farms to see pigs, cows, and chickens, their first instinct is never salivation at the sight of them. As humans we are naturally empathetic towards animals, because like pigs and cows, we are mammals too. As humans, we have the emotional and intellectual capacity that goes beyond any being here on Earth, so we need to decide what is the best way to put forth our energy for truly prosperous living. Please take a moment to re-evaluate and reconsider your daily choices as they have a massive impact on the world around you. People tell you to live everyday and in the moment, but also keep in mind that all of these choices are leading up to your future.
Educate yourself (Documentaries to watch):
- Racing Extinction
- Forks Over Knives