It feels absurd to me that just over a week ago I was in England. In the cold, the wind battering my face. Despite all the semi-unpleasant parts of winter weather (that I magically manage to forget when I look back with rose tinted glasses), I was feeling mega Christmassy. With Ethical Advent all crafted, photographed, written and scheduled before mid November, I literally jump started into the holidays like it was already time to sit down with the fam in my Christmas jumper. And a week later I’m slap bang in the middle of summer, ready to go to a wedding in wine country, and running round on a beach.

I mean, I’m not complaining.

Isn’t it stunning? This is my second time in Sydney, and already I’ve been able to see some beautiful nature that I didn’t quite get to discover last time (I’ve basically been spending all my free time swimming). I came to Australia for work last year, this time it’s mainly holiday, and I’ve been thinking a lot about nature. I mean I always am because of the work I do, but sometimes I spend so much time writing about being eco-friendly and ethical that it almost becomes a bit of an abstract concept. Since joining the In Our Nature campaign I’ve been challenging myself to really appreciate what is around me, to be a little more free, so the chance to be by the water has felt recklessly empowering.

I spend so much time fighting for nature, that sometimes I don’t get into it as much as I should. I keep hammering on about slow living, and I have definitely been implementing it, but being by the sea is a whole new kind of soul refreshing. I took a few of the pieces that Lea & V sent me to wear on the beach, and I felt like one of those girls who goes all in with her outfits at Coachella (not the cultural appropriation ones, obvs). I felt super cliche and a little bit hippie dippie but, you know what, I think I need a bit more of that in my life.

I’m not the type to believe in New Years Resolutions. For the last five years I’ve simply said I resolve to be a badass, while my best friend decided hers would always be to ‘be Beyonce’. If I did, however, I think committing to being more fearless and more free in 2018 is pretty good. So often when we’re afraid we put limits on ourselves, we stop ourselves from dreaming big dreams or taking risks. Whether this is in our own lives or in the grander scheme of justice, we’re the ones who lose out. I hope 2018 is the year that sees more of us empowered than ever before; the year that sees the conscious community grow bigger and bolder than we ever have as more people wake up to how vital the message is. Despite all the social and political crap that came with 2017 we also saw massive push back. We saw people being bold in their self love and brave in their demands of a fairer world. We’re a long way off getting where we want to go, but every small step takes us closer.

Sometimes those small steps are putting on an ethically made t-shirt that reminds you that you are strong, or running round the beach on a weekday in a floor length dress. Because if it empowers you, why not just do it? Other times, it looks like doing something scary, whether this be a big life decision or standing up for social justice. A few days after these photos were taken, at a different beach, I directly confronted a group of cat callers for the first time. They weren’t catcalling me, but another woman taking photos on the beach who was clearly an influencer, it was gross and it was upsetting. After obviously ensuring I was in no personal danger, I went and asked them if there was a problem. They made up some BS excuse, immediately stopped, and then left the beach altogether right after I called them out. Cowards. It was one of the bravest things I’ve done in a long time, and I felt so proud of myself for actually doing it.

Fearless means lots of different things to different people, but I’m not just talking about the fluffy ‘follow your dreams’ type of stuff, although that is great too. For me, it looks like practising what I preach a little more every day. Feeling bolder as I do it, and hopefully helping others find freedom along the way.

These days, there are so many options for purchases that can make you feel strong without marginalising and oppressing others in the process. We really can have our cake and eat it too. We feel empowered and we are bold, but we also provide income, economic growth and stability to others. We can be fearless and free, but we can also be the providers of  these same qualities to others, simply by choosing well.

I guess this is why I love Lea & V so much. The brand is named after its founders, Léa and Valentina, who met in 2016 and bonded over the shared childhood dream of owning their own fashion brand and making the world a better place. Together they founded Lea & V to combine their love of fashion and their desire to make an impact. They dream of a world where fast fashion, unethical production, child labour and sweatshops are eradicated; a place where they can play their part in reversing mankind’s wrongs and bringing an end  to poverty and homelessness. They only work with partners that treat their employees well, with good pay and working conditions.

 ‘We love our partners! They work hard but they do it with love and dedication. What we also love is that they work as a family, in a place that looks more like a home rather than a factory, with even their children running around playing’

All of Lea & V‘s  designs are created with love in the hopes to inspire anyone and everyone to feel confident and empowered, inside and out. Each item is ethically handmade, and comprised of natural fabrics. Most of their items are ethically made in Bali, so they also partner with the SOS Children’s Village in Bali, aiming to give back at the source by helping to provide a loving home, education and food to children in need on their doorstep. As a very new brand, Lea & V are also very open about where they’re at and where they’re still working to improve. They’ve started with ethical production and treatment of people, which is already a lot more than most mainstream brands, and are now moving on to materials. They are currently working on investigating the cotton industry, particularly where their materials are grown and sourced, an endeavour which I hope will end in a full transition to organic cotton very soon. They’re pushing forward and trying to improve, as I also hope to do over the next year.

2018 is already setting up to be a huge year for me, and I know that not everything that comes my way next year is going to be good. I’m going to need to be strong more than once. So I’m writing the words fearless and free over 2018 now, before it begins. In a year that’s going to see a lot of life changes and some bold moves, I’m going to keep reminding myself to be fearless, and to be free. I’m going to keep trying to consume well and educate others. I’m going to try and have more grace and compassion alongside more in depth knowledge and analytical ability. I’m going to allow myself more freedom, and try and foster it in others. I’m going to keep pushing for better.

‘The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.’

Wearing: Lea & V Nama-Slay Top and Lea & V Dining With The Fairies Gown

Photos by Saturao Studio

Until next time, stay magic y’all.