Conscious Creators: Kara Fabella (@theflippside)
We’re SO excited to finally launch our Conscious Creators series where we chat with creators/influencers who use their platform and voice for good. If you follow us on Instagram, you know we’ve worked on many fun projects with Kara from @theflippside. Kara is a BIPOC content creator, sustainable lifestyle advocate, and ethical fashion stylist. Her distinctive and vibrant feed gives our soul the color it so deeply craves, especially on those gloomy San Francisco days. Kara's eye for detail, styling, genuineness, and creative direction is unmatched -- it's no wonder she has already achieved so much success, and we're all for it. Read on to learn more about Kara and her blog, @theflippside, and her journey into becoming a sustainable fashion stylist.
What's the inspiration behind The Flipp Side?
The Flipp Side is both a tribute to my Filipina roots and highlighting the other side of fashion that was not often talked about in the influencer space when it first started. I remember seeing a sea of designer fashion labels on former budget-conscious folks when, in fact, it was their ability to achieve that individual style with thrifted and/or vintage finds that drew me to them in the first place. The Flipp Side also offers a glimpse into my imperfect journey as a conscious consumer and advocate. I want people to know that sustainable and ethical fashion can be thoughtful, fun, and community-driven.
What does sustainable fashion mean to you?
I have so many thoughts here, but at the end of the day, sustainable fashion is the antithesis of what fast fashion represents. Sustainable fashion does not exploit BIPoC communities in their production of goods. It means that there is genuine commitment to supply chain transparency from production to labor to packaging. Sustainable fashion means using what's already in your closet and finding creative ways to give your pieces new life. It also means inclusivity of all body types, genders, and cultures. Sustainable fashion means paying proper tribute to the BIPoC designers and makers whose roots really championed and have always advocated for the people and our environment before sustainability was labeled as "cool”.
How does your upbringing contribute to your passions today?
I've always admired my mother's style from an early age. She was brought up in a time where looking pristine was an art form. I remember staring in awe as she threw on her bright floral silky button-up with the shoulder pads, meticulously applying that complementary pink lipstick shade, and just thinking to myself she was the most glamorous woman. I'm sure a lot of daughters think that of their mothers/aunties/grandmas, but I still do today. I think that's where my love of putting a look together came from. On the flip side, I also grew up in a time where fast fashion was rising and running to H&M, Forever 21, and Zara to grab that last-minute weekend outfit was normal. At a certain point, I realized how unsustainable that was, for myself and for the planet. Watching The True Cost really opened up my eyes to the injustices and how exploiting communities both locally and internationally were inextricably linked to climate change.
Shop Kara's Lounge Set
Who are some of your favorite BIPOC creators and/or designers?
Creators: @thatcurlytop (how could you NOT love her?!), @gabrielasage, @callmeflowerchild, @chloegoslowly, @marikoashley, @mayetteraisa, @jazminvegaz, @msnerriss, @tiffanyalex_, @greengirlleah, @aditimayer...the list could go on forever.
How would you describe your style?
Unfussy! I'd say Southern California-laidback meets vacation/loungewear ready? If that makes any sense! As much as I appreciate the art form of contrasting patterns, colors, and silhouettes, I personally feel most sexy and confident when an outfit is super easy to throw on and takes minimal effort. I tend to wear a lot of the same jewelry minus changing up my earrings.
What's one piece of advice you'd give to readers wanting to live more consciously?
There is a lot of pressure to have the RIGHT tools or products to live more sustainably. I don't think that is sustainable or feasible for most people. Living consciously for me means finding multiple ways to use what's already within reach. For BIPoC, it means going back to our roots and remembering what our ancestors did to thrive in harmony with our natural environment. Living consciously means looking out and learning from one another.
What's lead you to be interested in styling and how do you differentiate yourself as a stylist?
This goes back to the days I would watch my mother get ready. I've always had this fascination with seeing how women reimagine pieces to work with their wardrobe and body type. A combination of that, a series of retail jobs in college and then starting this account, the path to becoming a stylist just clicked. While this is in its baby stages, I know that I want to focus on partnering with brands and businesses with sustainability and inclusivity in mind. I want to make sure I work towards all body types seeing themselves represented and truly being able to wear the pieces that we come up with for campaigns. I want to make sure that we aren't just checking a box when it comes to diverse representation. I not only want to work with models of diverse backgrounds, but ones who also advocate for people and the planet.
With it being Earth Month, what have you been doing to live more mindfully?
This is an incredibly thoughtful question. While many are taking steps to work towards how they can better the environment, donate to environmentally-conscious organizations, etc. -- I've been focusing on educating myself more. There is still so much I don't know about how corporations and governments are exploiting marginalized communities and their resources, and in turn what impact that has on all of us. I've been on and off attending courses with Slow Factory Foundation's Open Education, a series of Zoom equity-centered educational series taught by Black, Brown, and Indigenous creators and scholars, ranging from topics like fashion as a form of resistance to a history of micro-plastics to regenerative agriculture. Additionally, I've been cultivating whatever free time I have to read up on/listen to podcasts about my own cultural heritage and our Indigenous roots and what re-engaging in that learning and unlearning means for our generation and future generations in the fight towards climate justice. I don't think any of us can truly do the work if we ignore our roots.
What’s your biggest takeaway from the day of our Earth Month shoot? And tell us about your process, the concept, models, and how you think about colors and textures.
I look back on that day and feel that rush of adrenaline all over again! So many good vibes from start to finish. After discussing in length with Maisa, the founder of Consciously, I knew that we wanted the backdrop for the shoot to be neutral, with hints of greenery, to really show off the colors and textures of each look. With it being Earth Month, it just made so much sense to shoot where we did. Sutro Heights Park is one of SF's hidden gems in my opinion. The warm tones of the rocky remnants of an old estate, the steps still in pristine condition. Everything just clicked for this place when we went location scouting.
As far as the color scheme goes, I really wanted to play off of my love for bold colors as well as the earth, wind, water, and fire elements. Most of the pieces that I chose were natural fibers like cotton, hemp, etc. I also wanted a lot of the silhouettes to have an ease to them, where you can see yourself just effortlessly throwing each layer on and letting the textures and colors speak for themselves in the natural elements. I made sure to use as many female/WOC-founded makers and brands like @leftedit, @whimsyandrow, @meeshafarzaneh, and @shopconrado.
There's always a signature element to stylists and how their personal style plays into the looks that they create. Mine is, of course, bold colors, but also bold, statement earrings. You can definitely see that on pretty much all of the looks, and that's something I intend to continue doing as I style more campaigns in the future.
As for choosing the models, it was a no-brainer to reach out to these 3. Chloe, Dani, and Emily are each badass local creators and/or sustainability advocates. Follow @chloegoslowly for her thoughtful witticisms and pattern play as she juggles the world of academia. Follow @alsoknownas.luna for her lust-worthy imagery. Follow @emilyamerrell, a personal business coach and podcast host of The Sixth Degree Podcast.
I think my biggest takeaway from this first of many campaigns is that teamwork really does make the dream work. Obviously, it helps to have a level of faith in yourself, your leadership, and your skillset, but you can move mountains if you align yourself with the right people. It's very rare that I've been involved in something where I knew a client/co-worker had complete faith in me and we worked together to really make our collective vision come to life. It can only grow from here, and I am so excited to not only continue partnering with Consciously, but to see how we each nurture our unique abilities.
We hope you’ve enjoyed this interview! You can follow Kara here.
Who should we talk to next? To nominate a Conscious Creator, reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org