We were lucky enough to sit down with a DIY connoisseur and sustainability content creator Maddy Rawlings (or @theessentialsclub). We spoke to her about life as a content creator and sustainability advocate...
Tell us a bit about yourself and what you do for work?
I’m Maddy, a graphic designer by trade who’s shifted more towards being a DIY and sustainability content creator for my channel The Essentials Club. I’m a creative to my core and along the way of making whatever I can for my wardrobe and home, I started to be more conscious about my impact. This led me to prioritising sustainable practices within my projects by utilising materials which already exist, as well as making changes within our everyday life to be more resourceful. From opting for secondhand where possible to supporting brands and other creators who do their bit for the planet!
When I’m not getting hands on with the sewing machine or tools, you’ll most likely find me going on some outdoorsy adventure (probably by the ocean), cafe hopping, thrifting, watching the sunrise, baking or just snuggling my pug. It really is the simple life that makes me happiest!
Tell us about your career journey and how you fell into your current line of work as a content creator.
As a graphic designer, I was glued to my screen all day for work and wanted to get more hands-on creative. So I leaned more into my existing hobby of sewing and created an Insta page to help hold me accountable to continue making my own clothes regularly. The more creations I showed, the more questions were asked about how they were made. So eventually I started sharing written tutorials on my blog and that began to get some good traction from other creatives who wanted to replicate what I was making. Naturally this evolved into wanting to create videos as a more guided way to share the ins and outs of each step. That’s what drove me to start my YouTube channel and that’s where it all really took off!
At the same time I was sharing my imperfect sustainability journey and what I was discovering and prioritising within my projects and general lifestyle. So I think this balance of inspiring people to get creative and also consider their impact has been a perfect blend of being able to grow an intrigued community as well as partner up with brands and opportunities that share this same ethos.
How does your style reflect your personality and how do you approach incorporating sustainable practices into your personal style?
I think my personal style is quite easy going, comfy and practical with a splash of whatever era is most intriguing me at that time. It definitely lives up to the easy going flow of being a Pisces! I enjoy revolving my outfit around one piece which is really capturing my attention to wear, and then experimenting with layering, adding textures, and clashing colours or prints if it feels right. Overall, I’ll still aim for a simple silhouette that feels true to me and comfortable to wear.
The way I interweave sustainability and fashion is by maintaining the process of only introducing pieces into my wardrobe with the intention to love it for years to come. Feeling satisfied with what I have and extending the life of each garment is the basis to a responsible collection. Because at the end of the day, using and adoring what you already own is the most sustainable thing you can do. If there is ever a need to add something new, that involves focusing on thrifting or making what I can as well as prioritising brands who use natural fibres, are transparent about their ethical practices and do whatever else they can to minimise their impact.
In your opinion what are some of the biggest challenges or misconceptions people face when trying to adopt a more sustainable lifestyle? How do you address these challenges through your content and engage your audience in the journey towards sustainability?
I think the biggest misconception is that we need to have every area of our life perfectly sustainable (and right now!!). All that does is just fill us with eco-guilt. We can definitely be doing our best to realistically improve our daily rituals and habits, but that doesn’t just happen overnight. It’s a journey to switch out staples for more eco-friendly options and shift our mindset to automatically opt for the more conscious approaches to fashion, food, transport, money, homewares, cleaning, beauty and all the other facets of life. And everyone’s preferences, budget and way of living is different too.
I know I used to put so much pressure on myself to show up as the perfect version online who only posted the best of this journey. But I’ve come to realise that doesn’t feel authentic. So now I try to share my daily life and highlight something if it’s been a good switch or maybe areas we’re still working on improving. Hopefully the ebbs and flows of our attempt to live a more sustainable life can encourage others to not give up when it feels all too much. That’s the beauty of the sustainability journey, there are so many ways to approach it and I hope everyone can find the things that help them get excited about this lifestyle!
How do you practise sustainability in your everyday life?
I personally think it’s more about the smaller everyday rituals where we can make the most impact! Essentially at every point of our day, we try to prioritise what will minimise our impact. This includes reusable takeaway cups and bottles, washable or compostable cleaning tools, refillable beauty and cleaning products, repeating outfits, bulk food essentials, prioritising farmers markets, and so much more.
We didn’t switch this all in one day either. It’s been years in the making of using up what we have and then evolving into more eco-friendly alternatives when it suited us.
With the right intention and willingness to keep trying, I believe we can all do our bit and create big change!