Conrado Girl: Kara

It's amazing to see how you, Conrado Girls, have been outfitting your Conrado pieces. It's also lovely when you share your outfit photos with us!

I met Kara at our San Francisco Pop-Up at Seedstore in the Richmond district last May. She's also works in fashion and is on the hunt for sustainable and ethical fashion and living. Also a fellow Filpina.

Kara and I talked a little about more about the growing up with the Filipino culture, styling and sustainability!

Conrado: Can you tell us a little about yourself? How have you become the woman you are today?tell us a little about yourself? How have you become the woman you are today?

Kara: I’ve always loved people-watching — and by people-watching I mean seeing someone’s outfit across the street or as they enter a room.  It’s a conversation starter, an ice breaker.  Any look can be a representation of a culture, feeling, or generation.  Style really can bring a whole melting pot of people together.  

As a 1st generation American, I grew up, like many, bridging the gap between two different worlds.  As a fellow Filipina, I’m sure you know, we have what seems like an endless amount of cousins, aunts, and uncles.  Growing up, I’d meet so many so frequently most weekends, I’d forget who was who.  I loved those gatherings.  Hearty meals and loud Titas, just Filipinos being unapologetically themselves.  My family and I would drive down to be a part of a Philippine group based in San Diego, where all the kids and adults would put on dance performances and dress up in traditional Filipino garb, really celebrating our Pinoy pride.  

During the week, though, it was definitely a different vibe.  I was fortunate enough to attend schools where there was a lot of diversity, but there was an unspoken rule that you had to adhere to certain American cultural norms.   Because I switched schools fairly often, I learned to adapt quickly.  It could range from something as simple as bringing Lunchables instead of Adobo and rice so as not to bring too much attention to myself to obsessively straightening my frizzy, natural waves every day.  I should’ve totally rocked the frizzy ‘do growing up!

I’m sure I’m not alone in feeling like it was a constant struggle walking that fine line between a culture that is inherently a part of oneself and one that you grow up feeling you need to be a part of.  

I feel that struggle less so these days.  Maybe it’s because I live in a place that does a pretty good job at celebrating diversity.  I feel very fortunate living in SF to be able to balance both and not have to choose.

The one thing I’ve always felt is my own, is expressing myself through my style.  I consider personal style an art form, and just like any painting, sculpture or photo, you can interpret and appreciate that art in different ways no matter who you are.  It has no cultural boundaries.  There’s a reason why street style and street style bloggers are so essential to our time.  I love that there’s started to be more representation of other cultures through fashion blogging, and I hope we keep moving forward towards more inclusivity.

C: What ethical practices do you do at home?

K: Recycle!  But really, we’re big on recycling. 

Definitely cooking more and eating out less.  I’m pescatarian, and as a Filipino-American, even switching to just that as opposed to going full vegetarian or vegan was hard for me at first.  Thankfully living in SF, we’re blessed with a lot of healthy options.  I usually buy local produce with the occasional Trader Joe’s run.

This sounds slightly gross, but I don’t shower every day, haha. Every other day.  I rarely sweat throughout the day unless I work out, so I don’t feel it’s necessary as long as I wash my face and slather on deodorant.  Doing laundry less frequently!  Minimal water usage whenever possible.

I like to use organic cotton rounds with my makeup remover and toner, and I’ve been slowly switching to cleaner and more sustainable skincare and makeup brands.  Biossance is a really earth-friendly and effective skincare line.  I’m also making the switch to biodegradable bamboo toothbrushes with BPA-free bristles. Baby steps!

C:  Describe something that you love to learn for yourself.

K: I’m learning how to edit photos and play with lighting.  As someone who has to edit her own content on her IG handle, Lightroom is a super beginner-friendly editing tool.  I’m having a lot of fun with it.  Every once in a while I’ll also break out my film camera and take landscape shots during hikes.  My boyfriend and my best friend, both in the film and photography world, are teaching me a lot about lighting. 

I’d love to learn how to scuba dive, surf, and actually speak Tagalog, instead of understanding bits and pieces here and there.

C:5. What is your dream destination?

K: That’s a really tough one.  Top 3? Greece, Morroco & Lisbon

C: What are you reading? 

K: Most recently The Power, by Naomi Alderman.

C: Do you remember that moment that made you think to switch to an ethical lifestyle?

K: I think it was more of a gradual process for me.  

Part of this change in lifestyle happened when I started shopping at certain sites like Reformation and Everlane where, in each of their own ways, these brands really try to help the environment and/or incorporate ethical practices into their business.

Part of it was moving to SF where conscious consumerism is being practiced more than other cities I’ve lived in.  Maybe even just as much as we stress using compost bins, recycling bins and eating healthy.  I’ve heard we’re now considering banning plastic straws, which is awesome.  I hope that comes into effect soon.

A huge chunk of this decision stemmed from my own shopping habits.  I grew up with a love for fashion and design, something that my mom and I really bonded over.  She’s a woman who has an eye for style.  Shopping with her made me excited to see the new trends and colors of each season (Fall is my favorite one).   That need to have the next trend before anyone else is not unheard of (umm hi, fast fashion), but wanting to be a trendsetter definitely influenced my shopping habits for a while.  It got to the point where I was sitting at a Buffalo Exchange one day wondering why I found myself there for, maybe the 3rd or 4th time in one month, selling more clothes as my closet started filling up from unnecessary shopping splurges.  I’m cringing just admitting this, but I’m sure I’m not alone in this sentiment.

Knowing that I’ve been an active contributor to the wastefulness of the fast fashion industry and the harmful working conditions of its workers, has really shaped the way I am as a consumer now—never be afraid to ask more questions about an item that you’re considering purchasing.  ‘Who made it? What’s the story behind a collection? Are these materials truly sustainable?’ It’s no longer just seeing an item at face value for me now.  It’s also consuming less or repurposing old clothes, getting creative with them.  I’m still learning a lot through sites like Fashion Revolution, but I think any small, individual change in habits can create a ripple effect.