Thursday, 21 March 2013

With Kindness in Mind

Kendall Benton with rescue cat Teddy
I'm very excited to be sharing this week's blog with you. For my first ever blog interview, I'm talking to Kendall Benton, creator of Kindness by Design, an awesome blog that champions fair and ethical design. Read all about Kendall's work and be inspired by Kindness!

Sarah: Kendall thanks so much for agreeing to be interviewed for my blog... Could you tell me a little more about yourself?

Kendall: Thanks so much for having me Sarah! I grew up as an only child in the Far North Queensland region of Australia, right between the rain forest and the Great Barrier Reef. After graduating high school I moved south to study at the University of Sydney, majoring in Environmental Politics and Archaeology, which was such candy for my brain! I started working for WWF-Australia while writing my honours thesis on tiger conservation and continued to work there for more than ten years! My roles with WWF have taken me all around Australia and my partner (who also worked for WWF at the time) and I were based in the Fiji Islands for three years working for WWF-South Pacific. About a year ago we moved back to Australia and I now work as for myself as an environmental consultant, Co-Founder and Director of Strategy for ScienceRewired, as well as Creator of Kindness by Design. I adore reading, writing, scuba diving, and playing with our little one-eyed rescue cat Teddy, who we brought to Australia from Fiji.  Teddy has an extremely well-developed vocabulary, so we have many an enlightening chat.

Sarah: What's your favourite thing in the world?
Kendall: Kindness!!! In all its forms.
Actually I always struggle with “name your favourite x” questions. Even in primary school when I was asked what my favourite colour was I would answer “multi-colour”. I love so many things (including love). I have many many favourites!

Sarah: What's your least favourite?
Kendall: Cruelty. It makes me feel physically and emotionally ill. The world needs to utterly reject it.

Sarah: Tell me a little more about Kindness by Design, what is the blog about?
Kendall: Kindness by Design – both the blog and associated social media accounts – is my platform for championing ethical and sustainable designers, brands and retailers. My goal is to show how amazing, stylish and fashion-forward ethical products can be! I am also committed to helping emerging designers and brands to reach a wider audience.

Sarah: You have been writing Kindness by Design for over two years now, why did you start it? What are you hoping Kindness by Design to become?
Kendall: The name “Kindness by Design” has a two-fold meaning for me: one is of course about designing items that are created in kind ways i.e. socially and environmentally ethical; and the second meaning is about deliberately choosing to live your life with kindness at the core. I truly believe in the power positive messages and I want Kindness by Design to be somewhere that people can go to feel empowered by the good being done in the world. I hope for Kindness by Design to become a catalyst contributing to the greater good. I want to continue to connect with and support designers both on and offline. I also would love to use my experience in working on issues such as: sustainable livelihoods, marine protection, threatened species conservation, climate change adaptation, and fresh water ecosystems to help create a better fashion future.

Sarah: What was your best "Kindness by Design blog moment"?
Kendall: Oh another “best” question! I’ve been very fortunate to have met some astounding people thanks to Kindness by Design. One of the best moments was being the Official Blogger for Fiji Fashion Week 2011. It was such a great experience getting to go behind the scenes and helping to promote a fledgling but overwhelmingly talented pool of designers. In October 2012 Kindness by Design was named by the International Fashion and Beauty Bloggers Organization as one of their 50International Bloggers to Watch & Learn From which was such an amazing surprise! And in January 2013 I was honoured when Kindness by Design was accepted into the Ethical Fashion Forum’s Fellowship 500

Sarah: What do you find most difficult?
Kendall: Working for yourself and starting projects from scratch is so exciting and incredibly rewarding from a creative standpoint. However, it’s also a really hard slog and you don’t have the benefits you get when you’re part of an established organisation. It’s been a real learning curve!

Sarah: Do you think a revolution in the fashion industry towards a more sustainable and ethical business model is possible? Have you seen signs of this happening?
Kendall: I’ve absolutely seen an increase in the depth and breadth of ethical fashion options and green-minded businesses. However, it still appears that fast fashion is firmly entrenched within the industry. I do think it’s possible for a sustainable fashion revolution to succeed but it won’t happen without support from designers, retailers, policy makers and consumers. Everyone has a part to play in creating a fair and ethical standard of doing business.

Sarah: What do you think would that look like?
Kendall: Every business would adhere to strict social and environmental guidelines and legislation while ensuring that their entire supply chain was transparent. Ideally all businesses would be certified Fair Trade, use cruelty-free, recycled and certified organic materials, operate in a zero-waste and carbon neutral environment, and somehow benefit the wider community.

Sarah: As you have been doing this for a while, you must have encountered a lot of great ethical and eco-friendly design initiatives, could you highlight your two for us?
Kendall: Oh my goodness. I am head over heels for all of the designers and brands featured on Kindness by Design! Two amazing initiatives include:

    Peace Cords by ARZU STUDIO HOPE are bracelets hand-woven by women in Afghanistan from authentic U.S. military parachute cord and fatigue or dress uniform buttons. This amazing fair trade fashion initiative has created employment for over 1,000 Afghans (95% of whom are women) and is providing the wider community with access to education and healthcare. Find out more here
Peace Cords bracelets
      Hearts is an ethical fashion brand founded on the idea that conscious minds create change. Their vision is to “create a legacy through which people understand that they need not sacrifice quality of life for beauty, and that true beauty emerges when we hold the vision of the highest good of all”. Their online store is amazing and allows you to shop via a number of categories including: materials; world causes; process; style; and how the product gives back to the community.
ethical fashion by heats

Sarah: Alright, last question: what are the top three things people can do to make this world a better place?
      1. Be kind to YOU! It might sound saccharine but I am learning that it’s a vital step in making the world a better place.
      2. Practice empathy as much as possible towards both humans and other living creatures. It’s an old adage but a vital one – treat others as you would wish to be treated.
      3. See something or someone that inspires you? Share it with the world…or at least with your loved ones. Spread the good stuff around :D.

I     Is there anyone that you find particularly inspiring? Who is it? Share it with us!


  1. Great interview! Love Kendall's work

  2. Huzzah! :D Thanks all and BIG thanks to Sarah for helping me promote ethical fashion + design :D xo

  3. Thanks guys! and again thanks so much Kendall!