KELLEY SHEENAN

Founder, Peppermint Magazine

Tell us about how you started the iconic Peppermint Magazine?

 

About 15 years ago I was working as a graphic designer in Auckland with a side hustle making a small clothing range that I sold every weekend at a local fashion market. I remember being introduced to ‘green cotton’ by one of my fabric suppliers – I had no idea what that meant, nor had I ever been made aware that the textiles I was using might have a negative environmental impact. It was certainly a light bulb moment. This led to more research about the fashion industry, uncovering some fairly inconvenient truths about fast fashion, workers rights, slave labour, ecological damage and the fast turnover and wastage by the industry and consumers. I eventually closed my label and realised that if I, as a designer, didn’t know this information, how on earth could the general public be expected to know these facts? I spent a few years delving deeper into the issues and became so passionate about it all that I decided I just had to do something. If not me, then who? I had a background in graphic design, photography and fashion, and so it seemed like a logical thing to start a magazine, to help educate the public and empower people to make better choices. Not many others around me had faith in my vision, and looking back, I can see that it was a slightly crazy idea: I didn’t understand how difficult the publishing industry was, I had an 18 month old at home and I had zero funding – but I had tunnel vision and extreme passion and nothing was going to stop me!

 

Have you seen your readers mature and evolve since the start of Peppermint?

 

Absolutely – when I started Peppermint, sustainability in fashion was in its infancy, and knowledge of the issues was minimal. Style was on the back foot in the beginning; over time this has changed. Our readers know what they want and what they stand for more these days, and they are more outspoken in making brands accountable, which is great!

 

Tell us about your portrait in Mighty Good Basics?

 

Seeing as we are in self-isolation, it involved my husband as photographer and our driveway! The thought of having photos taken in anything remotely resembling underwear made me slightly nervous (to say the least!) but I love Mighty Good and what you stand for, as well as the whole Fash Rev campaign, and there are many things in life that are more important than my cellulite.  


From your point of view, why is sustainability in the fashion industry so important? 

 

Because nothing matters more than people and our planet. Human rights are important, health is important, education, equality, waste management, food and water security, financial stability and eradication of poverty… all the most important issues of our time are interwoven through the question of why sustainability is important in the fashion industry.  

 

Given that 77% of UK retailers believe there is a likelihood of Modern Slavery in their supply chain, what do you think the fashion industry should be doing to prevent this?

 

Working on transparency in supply chains is crucial, along with educating the public on the real cost of clothing (and goods in general). I don’t believe in boycotting brands ‘doing wrong’, I think we need to hold them accountable and work with them to create change and overcome issues.

 

What practices do you think fashion brands should be focusing on to create a more sustainable business? 

 

There are many sides to the equation – whether garments are fair trade, upcycled, organic, handmade, locally produced, vegan or support traditional artisan practises etc. None is right or wrong or more important than the other – it all comes down to your own values and I believe that’s where you should start (as an individual or as a brand). I believe that one day all of these ideals will come together but for now, it can be overwhelming to know where to start. Just start somewhere. Any step is a good step.

 

What is your usual outfit for the office?

 

At the moment?! My office is the kitchen table, and my outfits are generally consisting of pjs and mismatched garments that seem passable for Zoom meetings. Otherwise, my Seaside Tones oversized linen dresses are a bit of a go-to for me.

 

What is your take on making your wardrobe more sustainable? 

 

The most sustainable wardrobe you have, is the one you have right now (apart from being mindful of plastic microfibres when washing polyester clothes). When buying new clothes, I try to think about its longevity and to make sure it’s a ‘forever’ garment, whether it’s secondhand or ethically made. Even buying too many ‘sustainable’ or secondhand products can be a problem, as it can help fuel the ‘never enough’ mentality.

 

What are your favourite sustainable fashion brands?

 

KowTow, Seaside Tones, Milk & Thistle, Little Tienda, Lucy & Yak, Cloth & Hide, Frank & Dollys, Everlane, and of course, Mighty Good Basics… I have too many to name! But these are some of my everyday staples.

 

Who is your style icon?

I actually can’t think of anyone in particular – I admire everyone’s style individuality (that might sound naff, but it’s true!).

 

What is your favourite item in your wardrobe and why? Tell us the story.

 

It’s actually an H&M wool shawl. It was sent to me as part of a promotion – I didn’t buy it, but I’ve made the most of that shawl and it’s now one of my most-loved items. It comes everywhere with me in winter or when I travel. My husband and I went to the US in November and I dropped it on a street in L.A. getting into an Uber. Unbelievably it was still on the street when we went back about eight hours later! 

 

What’s your favourite Mighty Good Basics style and why?

 

It might sound like I am making this up, but the Mighty Good spaghetti top is actually my current self-isolation and pre-iso uniform – I sleep in it every night and have been working in it too. I’m now bringing the tank top into the rotation too, along with the Granny knickers. Comfort and ethics all the way for me!