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If we had to use a few words to sum up Shreni Chauhan, it would have to be: fashionable, stylish and sustainable. In the era of mass consumption, this fashion stylist and blogger promotes sustainable and ethical fashion through her engaging feed.
Using graphic design and fashion as a medium of expression, she reiterates the importance of living a conscious life. Young, mindful and extremely talented, her bubbly personality had us hooked from the start when we sat down to have an honest conscious conversation with her.
Tell us a little about you. What do you do?
Hellooo! I’m Shreni, born and brought up in a small city in Uttar Pradesh. I have been taking unconventional routes since 1993. Although I am a NIFT graduate who specialised in accessory design, I do a lot of things under the umbrella of creativity and sustainability, especially through my Instagram feed. Currently, I am pursuing Masters in Fashion Business & Sustainability in Italy. I love having conversations and exchanging ideas so no matter the topic, I’m all ears!☺
What led you down the path of sustainability?
As my mother has been a follower of sustainable practices, I too was following the same route unconsciously. Which, when I think about it, may not have been the best way to be sustainable as being conscious is a huge part of sustainability. It brings mindfulness to your activities and it's one of the foremost steps one should indulge in to be able to walk on the path of sustainability.
It was at the end of 2018 when I got the opportunity to collaborate with a sustainable brand to develop the concept of photoshoot as well as model for them. While the brand was telling me their story and explaining why they chose to work with specific materials and techniques, I realised the importance of each and every small action to lead to a bigger change. In hindsight, as a designer, I was told to be a problem solver but these things didn’t strike me until there was a direct discussion.
What role does consciousness play in your daily life?
It’s the most important one– to be able to live life in the best form availed to us by this planet. It’s as simple as storing the water from your overnight water soaked nuts to use in a face pack you know! Being conscious helps me better understand the details of living a life that benefits the environment too.
What has been a driving force for you?
While being sustainable has a lot of positive impacts on the environment, what drives me is my growth as a human being. It’s all about leading a better, more conscious life than before. Being sustainable is one of the most creative ways to live as it covers every aspect of your living– from healthy food to saving you from consuming a lot of crap. So, I see it as personal growth and being more humane, to know that your own growth can help save the ecosystem is the most comforting thought. We, being at the top of the food chain on this planet, are entitled to bring change to develop better through our capabilities of understanding and adapting. Are we responding in that manner? Unfortunately, not very well.
You’ve always been a big supporter of Indian craft. Tell us a little about it.
This goes back to my college days when I got the opportunity to do a project with a craft cluster and visit multiple villages of artisans in Rajasthan and Himachal. Not only did it make me proud, but it also gave me a sense of responsibility as a designer to preserve these amazing sets of skills cultivated over a millennium. It’s our very own identity and we are losing it. It pains me to listen to the stories of craft extinctions and manipulations of artisans… It belongs to us and we belong to it. Currently, being in Italy, I can tell you that’s what India is known for in the fashion industry.
Has being in Italy affected the way you view sustainability? Could you share some particular instances?
Oh absolutely! In a lot of ways actually. One of the most critical one is getting to observe my own lifestyle quite closely. Here in Italy, I do not have house help. I have to do everything from cooking all my meals to taking out garbage to grocery shopping, doing chores while taking care of myself and finding time to study. These activities have made me realise my day to day consumption patterns and my requirements to sustain myself. I am able to think better for myself now because I know the process! I know what goes into making a certain food item and what ingredients I can grow myself which can be used for other recipes I would eat or how much garbage I have accumulated this week and how I can mindfully reduce it over the days by slightly reworking on my consumptions. I am the owner of my every decision, I know what would be its result and the fact that I can control it has made me see the most powerful advantage of adapting a sustainable lifestyle.
How hard has it been being away from India during these past few months, especially with the on-going pandemic?
Being away from family and my loved ones, especially in these times, was pretty exhausting and even annoying at times. I value these relationships more than ever before and strangely I am closer to my friends and family now. We held each other during this unprecedented time and that has made the bond somehow stronger and more beautiful. I know better now the people I’m gonna have for the rest of my life.
What are some tips and tricks you would recommend to someone who is trying to be more conscious in their daily life?
I guess the key is to first know your lifestyle, your consumption patterns and evaluate that. Because you might forcefully adapt something and follow it for a while but that won’t last. Consuming from a sustainable brand shouldn’t be your first reason, it should always be why you would do so as per your own way of living. It’s a slow process and that’s how it should be, slowly you can start picking the areas you can make a switch easily and you will be good to go.