Slow Down With
SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA
Meet Kestrel Jenkins, a fashion and sustainability advocate, storyteller @conciouschatter, and co-founder of @leftedit and @groupchat.social. She shares her experiences of following what drives hers and slow moments that bring reconnection. Hear her thoughts on life, mindful living, and personal style.
Tell us about your career journey thus far:
I love that I ended up working in fashion. The little kid version of myself secretly wanted to work in fashion but didn’t think it was possible or academic enough because of how society had aligned fashion with frivolity for me. I’m so grateful my path eventually led to this intersection of fashion and advocating for the health of people and the planet. It feels very aligned. I talk to super thoughtful, wise humans, which is an absolute joy. I’m grateful to be able to continue my neverending learning journey while sharing others’ unique stories.
Tell us about @consciouschatter, @leftedit, and @groupchat.social:
Conscious Chatter is a fashion and sustainability podcast I started over five years ago. The show has grown and evolved. It’s now focused on reimagining the narrative around sustainability, exploring the importance of resourcefulness, questioning conscious consumerism, and deconstructing oppressive systems that impact the fashion space. Episodes are generally released weekly. The current season is focused on ideas around degrowth and fashion thus far.
Left Edit is a small clothing brand that I developed and launched with a good friend of mine, Holly, in 2018. When we launched, we thought people were craving constant newness and options (I mean, they still are, considering the numbers). Still, we have discovered that our community is more interested in being involved in the process and supporting a made-to-order business model. So we now focus on developing one new style at a time and then release color drops throughout the year.
I founded Group Chat with Brittany Sierra of Sustainable Fashion Forum. It’s the first member-led platform dedicated to building a better fashion industry. We’re an online space where you can easily share ideas, resources, articles, and links. In addition, we host events, generally led by our members, to explore the intersections of fashion and sustainability.
What hobbies/interests/activities are a large part of your identity? Have any of these shaped who you are today?
I realized later in life that storytelling was instilled in me from a young age. We constantly debated, discussed, and had conversations that many may interpret as conflict when I was growing up. I didn’t realize it at the time, but having those hard conversations helped shape how I approach discussions and tell stories. I’m open to navigating the uncomfortable spaces in conversations but also want to ensure everyone feels welcome. Maybe storytelling isn’t a typical hobby, but you would understand how it’s all about stories if you met my family.
What is it like living in the Kumeyaay ancestral lands?
I love where we live, and I have so much respect for the Kumeyaay people, the original stewards of this land. Living in the San Diego area means we are close to the beach, the mountains, and the Mexican border. There are a lot of nuances there, but I feel very grateful to continue to learn more about and from this area, especially having grown up in Wisconsin amidst a very different environment and culture.
Where can we find you on the weekend?
Either volunteering to weed invasive plants/plant natives with our local canyon group, learning to skateboard with my two-year-old, or having a family happy hour at the cliffs around sunset.
How do you slow down and recharge after a long day/busy week?
I have to allow myself to disconnect from all the noise. Nowadays, there is so much – from the news to social media to our phones, emails, texts, etc. I get overwhelmed and feel like everything is coming at me at once. So I have to allow myself to step away from it. It usually means reading books with my daughter, going on a family hike to clear my head, reminding myself of my immense gratitude, and being present in the moment.
What slow moments in life do you savor/appreciate the most?
I love this ritual that my daughter and I have created. We go to the local coffee shop for oat lattes, walk over to the bookstore, explore the kid’s section, read, discover, and find at least one new book to bring home with us. It’s the simplest thing, but doing it together makes it magical.
What moments in life bring you the most joy and fill you up?
Connection has continued to drive me to record and publish podcasts. Talking intimately with people, hearing their stories, listening, learning, and exploring new ideas brings me joy. I feel connected to myself and what I should be doing.
What does mindful living look like to you? From the tangible to the philosophical:
For me, it continues to be a work in progress. I don’t think there will ever be an end destination. Being mindful is about slowing down and allowing myself time and space for joy, connection, and being present. But considering the many things that I do, being mindful isn’t always about slowing down. It’s also about ensuring that the different projects I am working on intersecting in meaningful ways and connect to my larger goal of advocating for a more equitable future for fashion.
What steps do you take to show up authentically each day?
Being a relatively new mom (my daughter is two now), I’m still working on this. But one thing that helps me set myself up for the day is having coffee together as a family in the living room (Wiley has an *oat milk latte*) before diving into our work and projects. Small moments like that ground me for the day ahead.
Do you have any rituals that help keep you on track/keep your mind clear?
The simplicity of going outside to get some fresh air can significantly impact me. I start losing my focus in the afternoon. Around that time of the day, I love going on a walk around the neighborhood with my daughter. She loves stopping to talk to the neighbors and just *connecting*. I feel like slow moments like this help me reconnect with myself.
What does shopping sustainably/thoughtfully mean to you?
Above all, it means slowing down. When we slow down, we understand whether or not we *really* need or love something enough to bring it into our wardrobe. I remember buying my first pair of Zou Xous. I was obsessed with the Eugenia Flats in Apio. I would visit the site every other day for a couple of months to admire them and gush over the color. Then, one day, I decided I had waited long enough, and I ordered them. It was so exciting to wait for them to be made for me so I could welcome them into my closet. That’s what shopping thoughtfully is all about for me.
How and when did you learn to dress for yourself?
Dressing has been my thing since I could walk. My parents tell stories about when someone would come over to our house. I would disappear to put on a new outfit to *share* with them. I would repeat this a few times throughout the visit to showcase my various looks.
What are you wearing when you feel the most like yourself?
Something I can move in. I get super irritated when my clothes work against me instead of with me. It’s about putting on something super comfortable with an edge, whether bright colors, textures, or just a unique composition. There has to be something a little *extra* in the look for it to feel totally like me.
What do you love about the ZX style you chose, and how has it filled gaps in your wardrobe?
The Uchi flat is quickly becoming my go-to shoe, fluidly taking me from day to night. The chunkiness of the sole is ideal and gives the shoe a little extra punch of boldness, which aligns perfectly with my style. Whenever I try on heels lately, I quickly swap them out for my beloved Uchis.