Last summer, we had the absolute pleasure of working with Xuesai Ma. After she completed her MPhil in Sociology at Cambridge University, she joined our team as a summer intern to learn about social media and content marketing. Nearly a year later, she reached out to share with us how much her experience at Mamoq has fundamentally changed the way she consumes. These are here words:
Last September, I stepped into a clothing shop, picked up a piece of clothing, and what popped into my mind was: What is it made of? Do I really need it and love it? Am I going to keep it for long or just buy it for fun? When the answers were all ‘No’, I left the shop and felt proud that I started to be a conscious consumer. Things like this happen from time to time after I finished my 10-week internship at Mamoq. This makes me feel grateful for the impact that Mamoq has had on me.
The mind-blowing moment: Getting to know ‘ethical fashion’
I got to know the concept of ‘ethical fashion’ and ‘conscious consumer’ when I talked to the co-founders of Mamoq and watched the documentary The True Cost. That was a mind-blowing time for me. However innocent the fashion industry may seem, the industry is expanding at a vast social and environmental cost.
For the first time ever in my life, I began to realise that I’m wearing clothes at a cost, and the modern production and commercial system have veiled these costs from my sight and my mind. As my work proceeded, more and more ‘dirty facts’ about the industry were unveiled to me. I felt thankful that it’s not too late for me to become conscious about what I am really consuming, and with this strong sense of gratitude, I was even more eager to spread the ideas to more people, in hope that the messages will change some people’s mind, make them ethical consumers, and encourage them to pass the message to even more people.
The fundamental change: Think twice before I buy
My life after the internship witnesses my change: I have become way more conscious when I want to buy a piece of clothing, and even when I would like to have a cup of coffee!
I started to re-examine the relationship between myself and the products that I’m consuming and my footprints on the earth. Buying things is not just a trade-off between me and the vendor, but between me and a series of social and environmental resources. Therefore, when I purchase something, I’m voting with my wallet, supporting some certain ways in which the industry is operating. What’s more, I started to build up a more authentic link between me and the materials – I love it, I need it, then I buy it, own it, and keep it; I stopped consuming just for its own sake and for pleasure.
The long-lasting echo: Recovering the original simplicity
Despite all the new concepts that I learned during the internship, surprisingly, many practices that we promote are not new at all – I often feel that the tips that we give are the same as the ones that my old grandma has told me. For example, my grandma cares a lot about the materials of clothes and encourages me to buy those made from more natural materials. Hand-washing and air-drying is also what she advocates. Instead of buying fast fashion products and throwing them away quickly, she told me to only buy things that are really good and those I really love, and then to take care of it for a long time. This is the original simplicity that people living in the past might all know, but the rapidly developing fast fashion trends and the modern commercial systems have made us blind to it.
I am very thankful for my 10-week internship at Mamoq. Of course, the actual work is beneficial to me in terms of learning social media operation skills, and it also offered me a chance to gain hands-on experience in a start-up social enterprise. But, most importantly, it opened up a whole new world of ethical fashion for me and fundamentally changed my mindset about ‘consuming’. I sincerely hope that more people will join us to support ethical fashion!
Today, Xuesai Ma lives in Nairobi, Kenya working with UN-Habitat on cross-cutting issues including gender equality, youth development, climate change, and human rights. We are immensely proud of Xuesai and grateful for all of her wonderful contributions to Mamoq and the world.