As we head into this new year, we are feeling hopeful for the future yet weary of the injustices and difficulties of our present moment. We’re not sure what to expect from 2021, but we know that we will be meeting it with intention, and thus I want to share with you some reflections that have been fueling my work.
At Ajaie Alaie, intentionality is a core value. Slow living and slow fashion are more than just trendy terms, for us they reflect a larger movement that’s all about thoughtfulness and connection.
From the way we make our clothes to the way we sell them to you, we are dedicated to operating at a pace that values human life, livelihood, and handcraft over growth and profit. I started Ajaie Alaie because I was drawn to the artistry in clothing, and I hope the time and care that we put into these designs will help inspire you to connect with that story, and find another layer of meaning in your garments.
Slow living is good for our wellbeing
The fashion industry and our dominant culture tend to prioritize convenience, money, and “success,” but the relentless pursuit of these things can make us physically and emotionally sick. Taking our time is health, wisdom, and healing.
When I find myself losing patience, rushing, and overworking, I remind myself of what brings me true happiness. Although I love what I do and value my work, I also know that it’s important to take time off to enjoy good food, spend time with loved ones, and have moments where I’m just relaxing and playing in nature. The beautiful thing is, when I do take time for myself, that’s when I find solutions to my problems and get my biggest inspirations. It turns out, ease is the key to success.
This is a practice that comes with commitment and attention, but I believe that it’s something we should all be fostering in our lives. It’s so easy to be influenced and made to feel like you’re “not enough” in our fast-paced society. Adopting a more forgiving and human dialogue with ourselves can help us find fulfillment, gratitude, and belonging in our lives—even during difficult times.
What slow fashion means to us
If there’s one lesson we learned in 2020 it’s that as humans, we all crave connection. At Ajaie Alaie, we seek that human connection at every step of the supply chain. We embrace the time that it takes to create beautiful, conscious clothing and reject the typical fashion calendar. We work at the pace of the artisans who weave, knit, dye, and sew our pieces and never go faster than our own creative process will allow.
It hasn’t been easy to build a slow fashion brand in a fast fashion world, but we’ve been committed to learning and improving over time. Now, I’m proud to look back and see how we’ve upheld our values of intentionality, craft, and sustainability, and how that’s shaped the brand over the years.
Last year we re-introduced our made-to-order model, which is specifically meant to cut down on waste and craft clothing with purpose. This means that we only make as much as we can sell, and we get to offer a more inclusive size-range, which is something we’ve been wanting to do for a long time. Our made-to-order releases also encourage customers to stop and think before they make their purchase, rather than reaching for instant gratification.
I get very sentimental about Ajaie Alaie garments because I see firsthand how much work, love, time, and resources go into them. Growing a company can be stressful, and that’s exactly why I’ve chosen to remain small and intimately involved in the design process. I never want my business to take over my life and energy, rather, I want to support myself in living a good life full of human connection and purpose.
Thoughts on consuming consciously
Being more intentional about how and what I purchase has helped me find more of that connection and fulfillment. When I need something, I follow the “buyerarchy of needs” by using what I have, borrowing, or swapping with a friend first. If I can’t do that, then I’ll buy something secondhand or make it myself. Only as a last resort do I buy something new.
I always look to shop with small businesses and people within my community first. Supporting independent artists, small brands, mom-and-pop shops, and ethical businesses will always be more meaningful to me than any product that’s commercially manufactured and sold by a big corporation.
Shopping small is a great way to encourage ourselves to pause and think about our local community. It helps us understand where things come from and who we’re supporting with our purchases. Personally, I find it gratifying to shop with small businesses because I feel aligned with where my money is going, and I know that my purchase is having a direct impact on someone’s livelihood.
I believe that everyone should be empowered and enabled to support their communities and take the time to be truly intentional about their needs. I know that not everyone is able to do this, which is why it’s so important for me to make Ajaie Alaie as thoughtful and conscious as possible. When we slow down and think about how our actions make an impact on our world, our collective lives are better for it. In 2021, we’re working for a world where global supply chains are sustainable and all humans are able to live with an abundance of dignity, community, and joy.
With love and gratitude,