Catalina Nini Interview: Sustainable Superwomen Series
This week I speak to sustainable lifestyle blogger Catalina Nini. Reading her answers left me feeling so inspired and intrigued by her views and experiences, and the story behind her favourite item of clothing is just wonderful...
1. Tell us about your blog and how you got into it
Stylish Confidence started in 2015. Back then I was living in Romania and my co-workers were teasing me to start a fashion blog. You have so many clothes, and different outfits every single day; they used to say. The thought of putting myself online was terrifying. I was quite shy, I still am today. Plus, the majority of my wardrobe consisted of second-hand clothes. Nobody wants to see how I wear old garments; people want stylish, trendy and new pieces. Or at least I assumed so.
In the same year, I discovered Fashion Citizens channel on Youtube. The twin sisters going thrifting and styling their finds convinced me I am not alone. A couple of months later, my husband and I decided to make England our new home. Here I found charity shops, online second-hand shops and a new love - vintage. On the other hand, I was also shopping for fast fashion brands. Now Stylish Confidence focuses on slow fashion and I share my journey along with tips for a more sustainable /-ish lifestyle.
2. What makes your style unique?
This is such an interesting question. For a long time, I felt that I am no different and I know many women relate to this. However, the moment you realise you are special and one of a kind, your entire world changes. After all, there is nobody with the same features, emotions, mind, body shape, gestures and thoughts.
Describing my style however it is hard. Romantic and feminine. To be honest, I probably own too many dresses and skirts. I love colours but also neutrals. Moreover, stripes and florals are my favourites. The same goes for classic garments. The most important rule I have is to dress for myself.
3. Why is sustainability important to you?
When it comes to sustainability, we need to understand the essence. Sustainability means to support life. In order words, to LIVE. Now, how we all want to co-exist and behave it`s another story. However, exploiting people, animals and the land is not responsible at all.
Sustainability has a meaning for me because I grew up with the concept. We all have, at some point. When eating a meal prepared by our parent/ grandparents we didn`t refer to it as organic or bio, we called it simply food. Passing down clothes from a generation to another and borrowing clothes from our siblings, parents or relatives was normal. We relied on energy, but we used it less.
We take the Earth for granted when in fact it is not even ours. We inherited and we must keep it alive so we can all thrive.
4. What has the transition from fast to slow fashion taught you?
Shifting from fast to slow fashion taught me 3 important lessons.
Be educated and patient. Changing your shopping habits is not as hard as it seems but sure takes time. I barely knew what my personal style was or what I even like. On top of that, learning about human rights, fair trade, transparency, women`s position, animal-friendliness, waste, recycling, organic, non-toxic felt overwhelming.
Secondly, striving for perfection is not helpful at all. It`s ok to transition imperfectly until you find what works for you. Guilt? Yes, I blamed myself so many times for making mistakes. It is, in fact, easier to be harsh on yourself than to celebrate small wins.
Most importantly, finding meaning has to be the most significant lesson. The freedom of not being tricked that I need multiple new items constantly is inestimable.
5. What challenges do you face as a blogger?
I must say that finding my voice has been one of the biggest challenges. I also considered giving up quite a few times. But when you find a purpose, your mentality changes too. It makes me so happy when brands look after quality content, leaving behind your following or statistics.
6. What is your relationship like with fashion?
My relationship with fashion has changed over time and being sustainable educated played a huge part.
In the past, I used to think quantity is important. I was also ignorant about who made my clothes or what was in them. Polyester, polyamide, polypropylene? But the dress is so pretty !! Therefore, for a long time, I accumulate too many pieces. Further, I didn`t know what my style was or how garments should fit me. On the other hand, when you distinguish between I LIKE, I WANT and I NEED you are on the right path.
My mum introduced me to second-hand shopping when I was a teenager, a habit that stuck with me since. Certainly, I would never get bored to look out for treasures. I stopped buying souvenirs when travelling. Instead, I visit local second-hand shops, vintage boutiques.
In April, Fashion Revolution came up with the hashtag #loveclotheslast. That is to say if you are going to wear & love that item until it breaks don`t buy it. I learnt to buy with intention and also responsibly. You can do it too. Rent, buy second-hand instead of new, look after your garments, mend, take your clothes to the tailor. If you want to buy new, look after natural fibres, and brands that care about their workers.
7. Tell us the story behind your favourite item of clothing
My favourite piece is a velvet dress I have from my mum. I am quite lucky to be the same size so we easily borrow clothes from each other when I go on holiday. The dress was one of the items I packed when I decided to move to the UK. My grandaunt sewed the dress for my mum in the 90s, and I am thrilled it has a special place in my wardrobe. I hope I will pass it down to my future daughter someday.