Meet Kathleen Elie. You may know her as the ray of sunshine-y motivation on your instagram feed ( hello @consciousnchic), the one to consistently rock any look she tries, or the powerhouse behind raising awareness and passion for more sustainable lifestyles. Today, we're letting you in on a little conversation we had about diversity, black history month, and motivation.
What are you passionate about? Personally and professionally.
I’m passionate about making people’s lives better. The belief that everyone should have the opportunity to do work that they love and want to give themselves to wholeheartedly is at the core of who I am. I want to see people’s dreams come true and help them live their best sustainable lives. My goal is to inspire others to pursue their purpose, give back, and understand how their everyday decisions can impact others negatively or positively. I look at life from a holistic viewpoint and care about all that it encompasses from significant areas like health and faith to glossier ones like beauty and style.
Can you tell us a bit more about your background and what made you who you are today?
A lot has gone into making me the woman I am today. I don’t believe I could summarize it in a paragraph. At my core, there is my family. I come from a long line of strong-willed, loving, and united people. My parents are unlike any humans I’ve ever met, and I am so blessed to be their daughter. They gave me a solid foundation of values, faith and work ethic that I will never be able to repay them for. I grew up with three older brothers who made me strong, confident and gave me my risk-taking ‘up for anything’ attitude. Education was very important in our house, and thankfully I liked school partially because I was really good at it. I graduated from Business School and Fashion School, and to this day I am still a learner through books, podcasts, conferences, and so forth. Don’t be surprised if I get a few more degrees in the future. Lastly, I got my love and appreciation for quality fashion from my mom.
What drives your passion for sustainability?
I believe that sustainability is not a luxury, but a necessity. Our lives depend on it, and when speaking about sustainability, we should always include the people our decisions impact, not only our impact on the environment. We’ve come a long way in this regard, but we still have work to do. We need to figure out how to make sustainability accessible for everyone IRL. Since necessity is the mother of invention, I am confident that as we continue to collaborate and appreciate how nuanced this topic is, we will get there. This drives my passion to talk about sustainability in every area of life and raise awareness. You can always count on me to remind people that sustainability is common sense for anyone who has a long term vision for the future.
What or who is your biggest motivator or inspiration?
I have many inspirations but to name a few, my mom and dad would definitely make the list. How they’ve left their birthplace, immigrated, and worked for everything they have and gave us is a constant motivator for me. They are my heroes. Also on my list are women of color like Oprah and Michelle Obama who are successful in their own rights and continue to find ways to encourage others to live fully and authentically. As for my passion to see people freed from all forms of exploitation, I am very inspired by abolitionist, Christine Caine, founder of the A21 Campaign. Lastly, people I’ve never met, who wake up every day to go to work in unfair conditions in garment factories motivate me.
What do you think about when you hear “Black History Month?”
I think of triumph, resilience, and joy in the midst of hardship. Black History Month is a celebration of all things black from the extraordinary history, willpower, and sheer genius we bear witness to today. I also can’t help but realize that there are more facts that need to be brought to the forefront. There is so much about black history that hasn’t yet been told– real life stories that demonstrate the brilliance, innovation, and genius of people of color.
Why do you think diversity is important in leadership roles?
Diversity brings abundance. Without it, you can only paint one side of the picture and are missing out on ideas, perspectives, and invaluable insights, quite frankly. As we’ve seen, diversity can help avoid many embarrassing, PR-nightmare situations. As an organization works to motivate a group of people towards a common goal, diversity in leadership roles enhances creativity, innovation, buy-in, and helps minimize blind spots.
What’s one thing everyone can do to participate in Black History Month?
Learn everything you can about black history by doing research, having conversations, and watching documentaries. Ask the people of color in your life to tell you about their family history, what Black History Month means to them and any other questions you might have. Look up events and activities taking place in your community this month, and go with an open mind. These events are for everyone, not only for people of color. Don’t be afraid to dive into how our horrific past still affects us all today and how it’s taking form in your own life. If you are not a person of color, no matter what you do, seek to understand and not to be understood. Lastly, don’t engage in this only in February, but every month of the year for the rest of your life, because it’s not a momentary holiday but a way of life.