What comes together when you mix suggested nudity, cheeky fruit, flowers and ethical production? A stunning Nude Ethics t-shirt, designed and created by Jessica. Based in Cornwall, designing prints which magically and ethically transform into t-shirts, flicking through cat memes and sipping on some gin, Jessica shares honestly with us the story of Nude Ethics, life in Cornwall during lockdown and her thoughts on sustainable fashion. Jessica is extremely insightful with her thoughts on the obstacles to ditching fast fashion, what shopping sustainable really means and she night time rituals (often thwarted by cat memes). Her motto, “wear something honest or wear nothing at all” is easy to live by when dressed in her stunning prints, I mean, who doesn’t want to walk about with a pear bum on their chest?
Hi Jessica, Nude Ethics is such a fabulous brand, I love the prints and the t-shirts! What inspired you to start nude ethics in the first place?
I'm a Graphic Designer, and I used to work in a screen printing and embroidery studio. I wasn't hands on though, I was of course in Marketing, so to this day I still don't know how to use those machines. After being there for three years, one day I thought, why don't I start doing my own T Shirt designs. At that point I was heavily invested in an ethical lifestyle and realising the struggles of it all. I just couldn't find anything I liked that I could afford. I couldn't understand why ethical clothing couldn't be modern and affordable. So, in 2017, Nude Ethics was born. I couldn't imagine at that point that anyone would actually be interested in my T Shirt designs, but I thought it was worth a try. It still surprises me that people wear them. I don't work at that studio anymore but my T Shirts are still printed there.
You are based in Cornwall, how has it been being back there during the past few months? Did you start any new rituals or activities to keep spirits high during the lockdown?
Lockdown in Cornwall isn't too bad - I could definitely be in a worse situation. I live near the woods and the coastline so I can escape that feeling of being trapped. Going to the beach hasn't been an option though - with people coming here to 'escape the pandemic', it's just created a lot of hostility. I would describe myself as a harmless person, almost invisible, but I've had a lot of interactions with pretty nasty people recently and it's been a massive shock. People are lovely on social media, and then you leave the house, and you realise that not only is the planet deteriorating at a rapid pace, so is the ability for people to get on. So to maintain my mood, I mostly stay at home. I've been reading a lot and drinking a lot of gin. I also created what I like to call my 'spam' account on Instagram. Instagram has always been for work, so I created a private account with a weird name, just so I could follow animal meme accounts. Goodbye work, goodbye problems with the world, goodbye brands that want money I don't have, hello cat memes. That doesn't sound very exciting, but it works for me.
You describe Nude Ethics as a one woman shop, how do you find running a business all by yourself?!
With so many things out of my control in life, it's pretty empowering having this thing that is just my creation, that has come from my mind. It's an incredibly personal space. I also tell the world it's a one woman shop, not just because I'm proud of it, but also because people expect too much. People expect brands to be 'perfect' but they don't have the same idea when they know there's just one person. It is tiring doing it on my own, and I can make mistakes by doing things when I'm running on empty. Sometimes I wish I had a friend who worked on it with me, but the creative freedom of running your own business is just exciting. It's a great way to learn fast. I can look back at any stage, and be proud of what I've created. Maybe one day there will be a little team. I'll have to quit the day job first.
The Nude Ethics t-shirts are stunning and you design them yourself, what inspires you to create each print?
Well you may have noticed that there's a theme. Suggested nudity, cheeky fruit, bold florals. It's what comes together when you mix nature, shapes and playfulness. Life can just be too serious, so when I see an object, I think how can I make that fun and how can I add a subtle twist to it. For example, 'Orange Nude' came about when I drew some oranges and the shape of my own body separately, I never planned the design to come together. It was originally just a joke. 'Fruit bowl' is like any other drawing of fruit in a bowl, but then I added the signature Nude Ethics style, I of course made the pear a bum. I doubt everyone would notice that - but that's what makes it even better for me. If someone is walking around not realising there's a bum on their chest, well that's amazing. The most popular designs are the ones where I've created them for fun.
I love your approach of “wear something honest or wear nothing at all” and I was wondering what sustainable and honest clothing means to you?
I think I should get my slogan embroidered on a T Shirt. For me it has to be everything: Carbon Neutral, ethical materials, fair wear, transparent, biodegradable, you name it. The most important aspect for me is the labour behind a brand. I can't believe that people, that can afford better, are comfortable in buying into modern day slavery. I just don't understand it. My wardrobe is equally split into second hand clothing, ethical brands, nude ethics (of course!) and old clothes. It's taken a long time to get to this point. I admit it's not easy and it's not always cheap, but I believe clothes should make you feel amazing, without harming the earth or other people in the process. My £4 baby blue charity shop jumper, that I've worn every day since buying it last week, makes me feel so happy, and maybe more importantly, it keeps me warm.
On your platform you also stock other sustainable brands, what is your criteria for choosing which brands to promote and sell?
I'm no longer stocking brands, I'm planning to focus on Nude Ethics going forward. I was originally looking for brands that are small, honest, transparent and cute. Being cute was pretty important. Being made of ethical materials and having a zero chance of there being any form modern slavery was a must. I also bought clothes that I wanted to keep for myself as well.
Ethical and sustainable shopping is thankfully gaining immense popularity, what do you think is the main obstacle which consumers face when choosing to shop sustainably?
The model of fast fashion has been built on ever changing seasons and the need for new new new. Ethical brands just don't work this way, for obvious reasons, but consumers' habits don't just change that quickly. I know that everyone likes something different and there's this constant pressure to keep releasing new designs to fulfil that need. As someone that finds fashion incredibly important, I do struggle with it myself. My biggest issue is that I'll have something in my head, for example I'm desperate for a navy vinyl trench coat now that I feel the temperature drop, but I can't find exactly what is in my head. Searching for an ethical brand that makes this, whilst also being at the price point that I can afford feels impossible. Whereas with fast fashion, it won't take me long to find a brand making this for cheap. You just can't buy exactly what you want, and it feels a lot like you're settling. Basically all of my coats are from charity shops and I do like them, but I can't say I love them. I don't know if this is just my biggest issue!
On your blog you have a great post on ethical personal products, I was wondering as an extension of self care, what role does sleep have in your life and you do have any sleep rituals?
I need to update that, I have some amazing new beauty products! I love sleep and I hate it. I just wish I had more time in the day, so sometimes I just don't want to sleep. I have three routines. 1. Being forced to go to bed by my partner who has become very grumpy at that point. I'll use 'ede - cleanse it back', to clean my face and then brush my teeth with ecodenta toothpaste. Then, I'll scroll through memes on Insta and then force myself to sleep. I don't sleep very well on those nights. 2. Get into bed too late but by choice. I'll have mint tea. I'll read my book and sleep okay. 3. Go to bed on time. I'll cleanse my face and then use Sukin night cream. I'll then use Peep Club coconut eye balm and eye wand. I'll read loads, have mint tea and a glass of water. That's the better night sleep. Not looking at my phone before I go to sleep is the best way. I plan to buy an alarm clock so I can leave my phone in a different room. I'll let you know how that goes, I'll have less time for cat memes though...
To shop amazing t-shirts head here: https://www.nudeethics.com/
To scroll endlessly head here: https://www.instagram.com/thenudeethics/