Noemi Plaza is the founder of KeiSei Magazine, a digital destination for ethical fashion, beauty & lifestyle inspiration. Our founder, Laia Rodon was joined with her via Zoom to talk about sustainability.
LR - Hi Noemi, can you give us a brief biography of your life thus far?
NP - My biography is very diverse but I have been focusing on sustainability. My sustainable journey began pretty much from the day I was born. I come from a large family; we are 4 siblings and, from a very young age we have always passed our clothes from generation to generation. Until I left home, buying new clothes was like a super “treat”, you know? It always had to be super intentional and we only did it twice a year, for winter and for the summer. I have always grown up with the feeling that everything I have in my closet has to be intentional, it has to be good quality because it has to last me and it is like something that has been ingrained in my mind from the start. It is true that obviously, I was not aware to plan this because it is good for the planet or because none of this it was as simple as something practical. In fact, when I was younger, it was a bit annoying! As a result, “unconsciously” I have always carried this with me, and I have always liked to be minimalist in the way I dress amongst other things. As I grew up, I always had a lot of interest in the media industry, creativity and fashion. So, I studied communication and marketing, and when I finished my degree I built up a variety of experience. I have worked in hospitality, fashion, media and advertising. But, I have never worked in a publishing house before creating KeiSei which made it quite “challenging” at the beginning as I had no idea. I had touched things like it in my career ,but I had never put it into practice. I always had this entrepreneurial spirit and always wanted to create something that had substance and a positive impact in the world. I have always thought about something like that but until I created KeiSei, I never put it into practice.
LR - We are really fans of KeiSei Magazine and we enjoy so much reading your website. Could you tell us what’s the inspiration behind it and how did you start with the project?
NP - What inspired me to create the project was a documentary by Stacey Dooley called Dirty Fashion Secrets that was actually only on some channels for a few weeks. Someone sent it to me and after seeing that documentary, it was like a shock to me. It was like a before and after, it has already been two/three years since that. I knew that the industry had problems with sustainability and the environment. However, I was not aware of some other issues. When I saw this documentary, they made it super clear. For example, there were videos of communities that were affected by pollution in their rivers, people who drank the water from there and showered with that water. Many companies like H&M and all the companies that we consume here in Europe, were to blame for this. And it all started there. Once I saw that documentary, I was like "WTF"? How are we doing nothing about it? How is nobody talking about it? Because two or three years ago, the sustainability conversation wasn't as alive and rich as it is now. I started doing a lot of research on sustainability, fashion, ethics etc. I read many documents, took online courses, read Fashion Revolution, and thanks to that, I started to open my eyes a little and obviously I stopped going to ZARA and purchasing anything. I started consuming sustainable brands, doing research on brands ,and I realized that there is not as much transparency as there is now. For example, if you go to the brand's website that you love and go to the "About" section, you will not find anything about where their products come from, the type of fabrics they use, etc. That is how I started doing my own research and created my own brand directory to buy only from those brands.
When I was talking to friends about this, they asked me: - “What are you talking about?" - They didn't start looking in a directory because I told them so, and for many if you want to buy clothes, you end up going where it's easy and convenient. That was where the idea began, I wanted to build a platform where, on one hand, it connects readers with brands that were in line with their values and aesthetics because in the end, aesthetics and design are super important for me and we have to love what we have. On the other hand, I wanted to generate information that was easier to digest but still having an impact in a very positive way. Another thing that I saw when I was doing research, was a lot of frustration from the public. There is a lot of anger behind it and I wanted to have a platform with a positive language. From this point, I didn't want to leave people frustrated, but rather to empower them.
LR - What are the new plans for 2021 for KeiSei Magazine?
NP - I would like that KeiSei would be a reference for people who want to have a more sustainable life in 2021. The truth is that I am very optimistic, obviously very positive things have happened with the US elections and with the new vaccine amongst other things. I'm very optimistic and I think it's going to be a good year!
We have new things coming but if I told you now it would not be be a surprise... so stay tuned, because there are some things that we are going to launch shortly! In 2021, I think one of the most important things for me is to focus more on quality than quantity. This year has been the first year of KeiSei, and I have been creating a lot of content because there were many things that I wanted to cover. But now I want to stop the editorial rhythm a bit and focus more on the quality and create less content but, with more impact. I think also one of the things of 2021, is that I would like to focus more on mental health and wellness because I believe that 2021 is going to be a year for healing, and it will be super important to apply all the lessons that we have learned during 2020, as it has been a super tough year. I think it will be important to help our readers with this.
LR - How do you inform yourself throughout the day? What are you listening, watching, reading to inspire yourself?
NP - When it comes to reading news, I read Business of Fashion every morning as I have the newsletter and I read a little during breakfast to see what’s going on, in particular, the trends of the fashion industry. I also like to read The Economist, because they have a very global idea and I like how they do their reports. Another, newsletter that I have subscribed to very recently is Bloomberg Green, which someone recommended to me during an interview. The truth is that it's great, because they discuss a lot how the sustainability issue is in all areas globally as well and it helps me a lot to stay engaged with the issue.
What I like more than podcasts, if I'm honest, are documentaries. I'd like to recommend some documentaries called The Regenerative Farmer, and I recently saw a documentary called The Biggest Little Farm on Amazon Prime, which is super interesting. There are many more documentaries such as Kiss the Ground available on Netflix, which is also very good since it gives you a lot of hope, and I am very interested in the regenerative and organic farm so my next book is going to be about this theme.
On the subject of books for example, since I spend a lot of time working, when I have to read or even listen to a podcast, I like to get off the subject a bit, read novels and personal development books. For example, right now I am reading a book called 'The Source' by Dr Tara Swart. I also listen to a podcast about entrepreneurship and sustainability, since I am very involved with the publishing house. Last week we actually published at KeiSei Magazine 3 Must-Watch Eye Opening Shows On Netflix Right Now Netflix Documentaries, (In case you want to watch it, I recommend it!).
LR - Could you please recommend us your top 3 local and independent ethical brands that you usually buy?
NP - There are many brands that I love right now, and every time I am discovering more through my work, but brands that I really like and that I am starting to get more from them is
House of Dagmar, from Sweden, they have some fantastic, sustainable designs and they are very transparent too.
Another, which is from London is ASCENO, they have some silk dresses and some wonderful things. This summer I bought several things from them.
Another one, could be Flattered, in fact the brand is not Spanish but they produce in Spain, they create shoes and they have super beautiful designs.
LR - Finally, what does sustainability mean to you?
NP - Sustainability for me is... If I had to describe it in one word, it would be "respect". In fact, KeiSei stands for Respect and Purity. Actually, the book that inspired me it was Wabi Sabi by Beth Kempton. I created the name for that, for me sustainability is doing things with balance, strength, with people and with respect. I believe that when you do things in balance, with nature and people, you are doing it with respect and I think this is super important and it is not as simple as it seems, but as people we need to have the responsibility to try and do the best that we
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This interview has been edited by Tammy from @thisis_wave