My Sustainable Closet – Kara Billings

Kara Billings – Indigo Lion Global Handmade customer and workshop participant

Trying to be ‘conscious consumer’ and leading a sustainable lifestyle can seem daunting. Over the next few weeks, we will showcase loyal customers of some of our favourite brands, who are making strides to lead a sustainable lifestyle. We hope you are encouraged & inspired by the actions each of these individuals have taken. You may not think so, but you can and probably are taking actions towards being more sustainable, you’re just not ‘conscious’ of it!

Kara at the Indigo Lion writing workshop

“I brush my fingers over pale beads. They are bumpier than I expect and offer a joyful contrast to the soft woven fabric underneath. These beads are clouds in a pink and purple sunset. They form the triangles that sit in the corners of eyes that have seen many smiles. They create a pattern that gives way to tumbling tassels. Always trying to break free. Always trying to instill order.”

As a writer and advisory board member at Studio Pause  (a space for art, stories and community in Arlington, Virginia), Kara attended a writing workshop hosted by Indigo Lion Global Handmade (Indigo Lion). It was the opportunity to use her creativity and her writing skills in a different way, while learning about handmade textiles

A coin purse purchased for Kara’s sister

Indigo Lion’s workshops enable participants to learn more about how the textiles and products are made and about the artisans who made them. As Kara interacted with, and held the products, she let the colours, textures and design evoke memories and associations to guide her through the writing exercise.

“Learning about the stories of the women who made these items makes me appreciate how much creativity, love and tradition has gone into each product.” reflected Kara.

As Indigo Lion’s founder Mary Louise Marino talked about the production process, Kara was intrigued by the natural dye process used, many of which were plant based. It made her think about chemicals that are used in many products, as opposed to incorporating natural elements into the production process.

Handmade, artisan made products Kara has purchased at local artisan fairs

Over the past year Kara has sought out local artist fairs and finds herself drawn to learn more about the art and technique that goes into producing their work.

Kara describes her style as being ‘plain’ but with a deep appreciation for art. Attending workshops like those hosted by Indigo Lion and interacting with artisans at local craft fairs, has pushed her to add some forms of art into her wardrobe. Kara enjoys looking for unique items and seeks out items that fit in with her aesthetic.

Handwoven napkins

“Mary’s style has influenced me too. She seems to be very intentional in her colour choices” Kara added. It has encouraged Kara to be selective in her own purchases and though items might cost a little more, she sees it as buying pieces of art that aligns with her style.

Through these various interactions, Kara has found herself becoming more environmentally conscious in general. Whether it is clothing, accessories or food, she is trying to be more selective in her purchasing.

Table runner purchased for Kara’s mother

Websites such as Threadup have particularly appealed to her of late, as she undertakes a graduate degree and has less disposable income as a grad student. “Not only is it a cheaper option, but it is an opportunity to give an item another life”, explained Kara.

Kara is inspired by the women she has met through Studio Pause and the Indigo Lion workshop. Having conversations about shopping habits and sharing each others writing has created a great sense of community. Though Kara has normally written about artwork or paintings on a wall, she was challenged to write about the fabrics and products at the workshop. “It was harder to write about patterns and threads and it seemed almost abstract. But it put me in the moment and I found it to be a really fun activity”, Kara reflected.

For more information about Indigo Lion click here.

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