Small Talk Series: Kristin

Small Talk Series: Kristin

We are so excited to introduce you to another customer and one of our brand ambassadors, Kristin. We're so excited to share her story and journey with sustainability with you.

Meet Kristin,

Tell us a little about yourself.

Hey, I’m Kristin Mansky — I come by way of California through a Midwest upbringing in Wisconsin centered around a love for the outdoors and athletic endeavors. My passion for exploring is now rooted in van adventures with my two pups and  a camera or a glass of whiskey in my hand.

You’re the founder and head photographer ofMarra Creative Studio, how did you get into photography, and what made you decide to start your own company?

I found my way into photography by way of necessity. I had just launched a personal blog and knew that I needed to accompany my posts with good quality imagery. I borrowed my parents Olympus DSLR camera and got to work learning everything I could about how to take a decent photo. Fast forward 9 years later and brand + lifestyle photography is an integral part of my business here at Marra Creative Studio. 

Marra Creative Studio (formerly Modish Digital) was created organically in 2015 after being laid off from a job and not wanting to go back full-time into the corporate world. I found my passion was deeply rooted in a love for creativity and photography and ultimately slowly built a clientele from there.

Being an entrepreneur requires you to wear many hats, what are some things that you incorporate into your daily routine to keep you staying focused?

The hat stack is plentiful as a business owner and I have found that prioritizing my health + wellness is essential towards showing up as the best version of myself to my team and my clients. This usually involves a morning dog walk, an iced vegan matcha latte and a workout. Once I’m at work, we rely on Asana, a daily planner and Slack to keep us organized and focused on the day’s priorities.

 Where do you draw inspiration from?

95% of the time my inspiration comes from my experiences when traveling. My connection with nature has a direct correlation to my spark in creativity and the name Marra actually comes from Marrakech, Morocco. I took a trip there in October of 2019 and it was a life-changing experience — the people, the culture, the architecture, the textile and the food were all so invigorating and warm that I wanted that same feeling to translate into my work.

We love seeing all of your travel adventures with your amazing van, tell us some of your favorite places you’ve traveled to.

My van has opened my eyes up the amazing landscapes right here in our own backyard and I can’t get enough of exploring through adventurous road trips. Right now, I’d say my favorite places I’ve taken the van to are Bryce Canyon and Grand Teton National Parks. Actually camping inside these parks is next level amazing!

What are some key clothing pieces you always pack for a trip and why?

Gone are the days that I pack all the things. Whether I’m flying to a destination or taking the van, packing light is always the way to go. That means packing pieces that are versatile and can be worn with multiple outfits or can be layered. My favorite things to include are cozy sweaters + flannels, comfortable dresses that can be dressed up or down and leisure wear that still looks appropriate to pop into a coffee shop for a quick work session.

How did you get interested in sustainability and sustainable fashion?

I think my love for the outdoors has always kept sustainability as a thing to pay attention to, but it wasn’t until I started learning about ingredients in my skincare products that really got me interested in this concept as a whole. Things took off quickly for me once I did an overhaul on my skincare products and going all-natural that I then began to carry that over to the everyday products being brought into my house and from there taking it the next step further into my closet and caring about sustainable fashion.

Ignorance really is bliss because once you start to learn things about the fashion industry (or beauty industry) you can’t unhear them and it grabs ahold of you where it feels impossible to continue to ignore the damage that fast-fashion has over the world.

How do you define sustainability? What do you look for in brands/ products when you’re shopping?

Sustainability for me is sourcing ingredients or materials that are regenerated from existing products or from materials that are not causing depletion from natural resources. Technology has made the ability to use regenerated materials a huge player in the sustainability aspect of fashion in that you’re seeing recycled plastic bottles turn into socks or shoes, but we can take that one step further as a consumer and consciously decide if I really need to purchase “new” or “pre-loved.” Slow-fashion is so impactful in that it’s allowing an item to get loved again and again and making us more intentional with our buying power.

When it comes to shopping for products or with brands I’m constantly paying attention to (a) what & where do the ingredients or materials come from and (b) what are they doing as a whole to combat their impact on damage to this planet. This can be done by a brand in the form of consciously choosing to use eco-friendly packaging and shipping material (a huge environmental concern) and I’ll applaud them for this minor change that has a big impact. I just want to see more brands, especially big brands, make more effort because they can create real change.

What do you think the fashion industry needs to improve on so that more consumers can/ will shop more consciously and responsibly?

Make it easier for the consumer to see that they are purchasing something made with sustainable efforts. Don’t hide it in the paragraph long details, shout it from the rooftops because small changes can steam roll into a huge impact. Also, as I mentioned above, simply making the effort to streamline your packaging and shipping material to be plastic free or a renewable material can go a long ways. Nothing irks me more than to open a package that is filled with plastic bubble and plastic packaging. Simply put, it’s a brand being lazy or worried about their bottom line if they aren’t making the effort at this point in time.

Has your view of sustainable fashion changed over the years?

While I’m a LONG way from being perfect in that my closet doesn’t all come from sustainable, slow-fashion — I have made a considerable effort to make conscious decisions as to what is coming into my closet. Shopping from small, intentional brands like Paneros Clothing or from big brands who are now incorporating sustainable materials, it’s made me aware of where my money is being spent. I value quality over quantity ten-fold and make a conscious decision to not purchase clothing from the likes of Amazon for reasons that pertain to materials, lack of connection to the maker, shipping materials and so forth.

Simply put, my viewpoint has changed in that I now realize the power we have as consumers and that we can make a direct impact by choosing where our money goes.

What are some core/ timeless styles that you look for time and time again?

These days, I really only purchase timeless styles as the thought of purchasing something for a season seems incredibly wasteful. I’m looking for a good classic denim, a dress that can transition from fall to summer and layering pieces that work year round.

This past year and a half, we’ve all had the chance to really think about what means most to us and how we want to spend our time. What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?

If it involves my dogs + adventure, I’m all about it. I’m also really really close with my family who all lives in Wisconsin. We love to meet up in locations around the country for family getaways that mean the world to me. Connections + experiences are forever, things come and go.

Anything, in particular, you want to see from us at Paneros in the future?

Your dresses are timeless and I love seeing what’s coming out in new collections but I’d love to continue to see classic layering pieces that have a lot of versatility!

Anything else you would like to share with our community.

Most people are overwhelmed at where to begin their sustainability journey since it’s coming at them from all angles. My suggestion is to start small and work up from there. This can mean bringing your own produce bags to the grocery store so you don’t use the plastic options, or swapping out plastic sandwich bags for reusable options and learning to be ok with quality over quantity. Purchasing five Target t-shirts that won’t last you through a whole season versus investing in two high-quality, sustainably made options that will be with you for years to come. It all starts with the small acts.