Tag Archives: Jyoti Stephens

BC Ferries Composting Kudo

“Earth knows no desolation.
She smells regeneration in the moist breath of decay.”

– George Meredith

On the BC Ferries from Horseshoe Bay to Nanaimo, I greeted this welcome sight with a delighted whoop and whipped out my phone to snap a photo.


Yay BC Ferries!

May you inspire all the other millions of travellers to think about composting.

This is something that my sister Jyoti and sustainability advocate did for Nature’s Path Foods many years ago. Nature’s Path has been named one of the top Green companies in Canada over and over again. When large corporations get behind solid earth-enhancing principles, then real change can occur. I dream of every company composting their paper towels, every company going Carbon Neutral, the Big Oil Companies investing in Sustainable Technology and the end to Canada’s Billion-dollar give-away to big oil.

I envision everyone recycling everything, returning to the Earth that which can be returned. I see more and more folks recycling soft plastics, from Saran Wrap to straws, bags our bread comes it to random bits of soiled plastic.

I dream of every person feeling personally responsible for the actions in the complex, and hefty consumer chain from clothes we wear to the food we buy to the air we breathe.

The Style Diet Shot – The Beginning

“On matters of style, swim with the current, on matters of principle, stand like a rock.”

– Thomas Jefferson

I have been following The Sartorialist (www.thesartorialist.com) for years now, watching him highlight people with unique style in fashion capitals around the world. When I lived in Florence, I regulary wondered if I’d bump into Scott Schumann at the Pitti or the Duomo. When we moved back to Canada, pictures of Florence’s stylish hotties (of all ages) helped heal my homesickness for Italy.

I discovered a Vancouver equivalent to The Sartorialist when my friend Edith popped up on Style Quotient http://www.stylequotient.ca/2010/03/31/no-288/. Edith is a beautiful singer with a silken voice and wicked sense of style. (If you’re lucky, you might catch her dulcet tones at Cheesecake Etc one fine evening)


Julia Roberts in 2001, wearing Vintage Valentino. The designer has said that dressing Ms Roberts for this event has been a career highlight.

What we wear cannot but echo part of our philosophy. I love fashion but want to celebrate common sense and sustainability. Yet style too. Is it possible? You bet your second-hand Fleuvogs yeah! Had to have a think and yay…

… I got a brain flash!

Wouldn’t it be awesome to show stylish peoples wearing a main item of clothing acquired according to the Stephens’ Sisters Shopping Diet Principles?!! Organic, local, sustainable, second-hand, ethically made. If none of the above, then clothes from countries with stellar human rights records. Quality, so you replace your stuff less often.

To kick off, here is Jyoti at the office. Her dress is Value Village Vintage.

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I acknowledge that some people don’t want to clothe themselves in the energy of strangers. My mother, born in India, is one of those people. She asked me to say this when I told her I would blog about The Diet. In India, there is a taboo about buying other people’s cast-off clothing. Fortunately, being born in Canada and being half English, I laughed off that cultural idea when I was young. Wearing clean, second-hand clothes that fit your style can be super cool, sustainable, hip and exciting to shop for. The quality of many well-made vintage clothes is such that they have lasted decades. Clothes back then were were made to last years, not a season.

I hope to make The Diet Style Shot a regular – if not frequent – section of my blog to celebrate those people who can rock your grand-dad’s clothes.

And look incredible.

Mom’s advice from the Social Venture Institute

I see people holding to their ideals.

My mother Ratana and sister Jyoti gave a talk yesterday at the Social Venture Institute.  Jyoti has been championing sustainability at Nature’s Path even before she got her Green MBA.  My mom, co-founder of Nature’s Path, steers the company forward with vision, style and a sense of greater purpose.  With their beautiful voices and complementary speaking styles, they got a well-deserved standing ovation after their talk.

Here they are today – unintentionally color-coordinated

Mom (Ratana Stephens) and Lil' Sista (Jyoti Stephens)

Mom (Ratana Stephens) and Sista (Jyoti Stephens)

My mom is uncannily wise.  Here is the advice she gave yesterday for making a difference in business.  I want to share it with you.  I daresay that this advice can be applied to most endeavours:

Mom’s advice number one: Choose the right life mate

Mom’s advice number two: Understand the finances of your company

Mom’s advice number 3: Create a business you belive in and are passionate about

Mom’s advice number 4: Surround yourself with people whom you respect

Mom’s advice number 5: Don’t wallow in mistakes, learn from them and accept and move on

Mom’s advice number 6: Welcome advice from those you trust

Mom’s advice number 7: Don’t compromise your beliefs

My Ezderza Dress

I see a world where locally-made fashion is worn as often as big brands.  Where delicately elegant, edible white fawn lilies and native wild flowers are purposefully planted as often or more as daffodils.  I want to fast forward into a world where the bold, beautiful iconic prints of the First Nations are worn proudly by fashionistas.


Nancy Turner, ethnobotanist just sent me this photo. This beautiful plant would have grown in Nixon’s Bog near my grandparent’s “Goldstream Berry Paradise” farm on Vancouver Island.

My beautiful stylista sister Jyoti got me on a shopping diet a few years ago.  She has a green MBA, champions sustainability at Nature’s Path Foods and is my go-to person on everything ‘sustainability’.  Confronted with confusing ideas of style, disposability, fast fashion, we are encouraged to buy buy buy.  At Paris Fashion week in 2011, I spoke at length about the perils of fast fashion with Laura and Martin McCarthy of The Couturier House of Worth.  We can’t escape wanting to look good, to change our image as our body changes.  But what is the guiding principle?  How do we navigate the perilous waterfalls and rapids of consumerism?  We all need this diet.  Picking up from Jyoti’s principles, here is the Stephens’ Sister’s Shopping Diet.

The Stephens’ Sisters’ Shopping Diet:  Whatever you buy, whatever category (food, clothing, household products, furniture, plants, gifts), you must buy either local, organic or second-hand.  If you cant find something local organic or second-hand, buy something that is made from a country that’s close by, or with a stellar record for human and environmental rights.  Above all, go for quality.  That way you don’t have to replace your stuff as often.   My hubby Pascal bought a pair of Church’s shoes when we lived in London over 15 years ago.  They still look fantastic.  I will talk about washing machines on another post (hold your breath peoples – washing machines – oooh!).

When I moved back to Canada 3.5 years ago, I was disappointed at the limited, locally-made clothing offerings.  Living in Barcelona, London and Florence for thirteen years had truly and utterly spoiled me.  But little by little and with a little more help from Jyoti, we found a wonderful crop of local young BC designers *making clothes locally*.  For example Laura Bemister of Muse Clothinghttp://museclothingcompany.com/ , David Chiang of Motherland http://www.gastown.org/shop/item/7783-motherland-gastown.  Stores in Victoria like Hemp and Company https://hempandcompany.com/ and Not Just Pretty http://www.notjustpretty.com/shop/index.php are to be praised for their vision.  Jyoti and I have a few-well kept secrets on Vancouver’s best quality consignment, that I’ll share if asked very (Very) nicely.

Sorting out my style as I reacclimatized to British Columbia’s weather and fashion (Vancouver has typically ranked quite low on fashion), I was always a little sad that I couldn’t find anything First Nations inspired.   Living in Europe plenty of folks thought I was First Nation when I told them I was “part Indian from Canada”.  I have grown up with a family who loves First Nations artwork.  My Uncle Godfrey speaks native some of the Native tongues.  My grandfather’s first wife was First Nations (she died young of influenza).  I have always wanted to wear First Nations clothing.  Let me clarify, there are plenty of prints and scarves, tea-towels and t-shirts, jewellery, Cowichan sweaters and slippers that are locally, beautifully, and quality-made.  I have both given and received these items over the years.  But never something cool that made me that made me feel hip and fashionable.

Me this morning in my Edzerza Gallery dress, shoes by Trippen

 A Facebook friend liked a dress from Edzera Artworks and online Gallery http://www.edzerzagallery.com/.  Grazie FB, this dress arrived in a little envelope yesterday and I am proudly wearing it in the photo above.  The dress itself is American Apparel made in the USA. The Shoes are Trippen made in Germany, bought in Rome about 6 or so years ago.  Trippen will repair your shoes for life. The stockings are made in Hungary, bought in Florence a few years ago.  I’ll stop there but I know you get the point.

 May each and every purchase be cherished and all the people and activities in the distribution chain leading you to the point of purchase  be honourable and honoured.  I would like to say more about the Idle No More movement, but I am not informed enough at this time.  Nevertheless, I support those who fearlessly stand up for their rights.

So I’m pretty happy this morning.  I’m looking and feeling good, supporting a chain of people and actions that I feel good about.  Plus I’m wearing this in solidarity for my First Nations friends….  May we all wake up and Idle no more.