Story by Lia Aprile and Photography by Claudia Lucia
I met Chandra while hosting a dinner for the Full Moon in January. She walked in the door and I instantly loved her! She is warm, poised, engaging, and a total natural beauty. And she's my neighbor!!!! Chandra is the founder of the website These Native Goods which features a curated directory of companies who manufacture locally. I'm so excited to feature my new friend Chandra on our stories!
- Rachel Pally
Chandra....What did you see in our consuming culture that you wanted to challenge? Tell us more about your website!
I saw something that I was guilty of myself, we tend to be drawn to things that are easy and convenient. As a culture we want everything fast and for cheap; and we over consume (partly because low prices encourage it). This mindset has gotten us in a lot of trouble, both environmentally and on a human level. With These Native Goods I wanted to simplify the process of finding locally made, ethical labels. If it was more convenient then perhaps people would be more inclined to shop consciously. There are so many beautiful alternatives to mass produced goods, you just have to know where to look! These are companies who design in a conscious way; pay their workers fairly and try to decrease their environmental footprint.
I personally realized that I didn’t need as much as I once thought, I didn’t feel good spending my money on companies who take advantage of people or the planet and I wanted to support makers in my community. So I spent a lot of time researching labels, speaking with them and checking out their products. Then I compiled a list of USA made companies that I felt good supporting (the list is still always growing) and that is basically what These native Goods is. A database of locally made, ethical labels. I hope it encourages people to slow down a little, to be more conscious with their consumption and to support worthwhile companies.
It seems that you are offering the public a way to be socially conscious with their purchases (local, environmental, ).....a much needed service for an overwhelmed population......and at the same time designing a business for yourself that you believed in--- and that could offer you a opportunity to be a mom and be home as well. Was this intentional? How did you pull this off?
I was definitely looking for something that I could do from home, that would still allow me to spend time with my daughter. When I started brainstorming ideas for the site that was one of the major benefits for me. I really felt like the directory was something that could be a positive tool for people and wanted to provide that service, but it also didn’t strike me as a big money maker from the get go (because I’m not working with massive cooperations/bottomless pockets). I needed to build relationships and build trust with an audience before paid work started coming in. So I have done a lot of work in the name of the cause, which is ok, because its important to me and it has helped build a business. Even now because I work with a lot of smaller brands I sometimes end up doing things for trade, as long as its an item I can use/enjoy and a brand I believe in. Staying true to my mission is still the most important thing for me. I have said no to well paid jobs when they came from companies who I felt were just greenwashing and said yes to free projects when I really believed in the brand. Not the most money savvy move maybe, but I don’t want to comprise my values.
If you are not working outside your home, do you make a clear distinction from work life and family life....or do they continue to overlap after hours?
Honestly, I try to set a work/family time schedule but it never pans out quite like I planned. My daughter is only at school a couple days a week right now so the majority of the time she is with me. I will sent her up with craft projects or work outside so she can play on the patio, if I have something pressing. When I take product shots at home I ask her to help so that we’re doing something together, she likes to arrange the items or be my “lighting assistant”. Dinner is something that I always try to make strictly family time. But in general things overlap a bit. I squeeze in work where ever I can, but also make sure to set aside quality time with my daughter where I’m 100% focused on her. She comes with me quite a bit for things like studio visits and even photoshoots, which is both fun and sometimes crazy!
If you had 2 extra hours in your day, how would you spend it?
Man I would love a couple more hours! I would probably be greedy with one of those hours and just spend it alone, having some quiet time! A glass of wine, a good book, some gardening, Netflix and chill, just something to unwind. The other hour would be for more quality family time. My husband works long days, by the time he gets home it’s like the dinner and bedtime scramble. More time to just hang would be great!
Technology seems to be very present in our lives. Is there an app that you use on an ongoing basis that is helpful?
I like to check things out on the Think Dirty and EWG apps, they are both kind of nice guides for natural home and beauty products. I typically see what they have to say and then do a little research of my own too.
If you made Fashion Rules....what would one or two be? Would you toss any ‘rules’? Do you think the Rachel Pally brand is listening?
I’ve never been big on rules, especially with something as self expressive as fashion. If I had “rules” I think they would be for the manufacturing side, like “employ don’t enslave” and “thread well, tread lightly”..... or something a bit more clever.
I think the Rachel Pally brand has a really amazing grasp on what women want. I think that comes from Rachel following her own heart, plus listening to and observing the women in her life. She is creating what she wants to wear and inevitably other women want to wear it as well. And that kind of sums up how I feel about fashion, wear what you want, wear what makes you happy. With the amount of ethical brands on the market right now (and other sustainable options like vintage and second hand) you have a lot of creative freedom.
What are 4 influences that have affected your Vision or life until now? If they were/are people, did you know them personally or read of them? Do you think role models and mentors are important?
My husband is one of my biggest influences, I’m kind of shy and an introvert, he has this confidence and strength that I’ve always admired. If he wants something he just makes it happen, it’s very motivating.
My mom is like this total nature mama, she has influenced me in so many ways, one being my own love of nature. She just has this connection to the earth that I don’t see in a lot of people. My dad is also a big influence, he’s always been very environmentally conscious and is the opposite of an over consumer. He’s not totally zero waste, but in a full year he doesn’t even produce enough trash to fill one typical kitchen bag. I’m trying to be more like this.
I do think mentors and role models are very important, they can give us the courage to go after our dreams, teach us to appreciate things that we may have missed and provide guidance, sometimes without even realizing it.
I also find a lot of inspiration from the women in my life, seeing strong, successful women (especially other mamas) is always so upliftings. Looking at you Rachel!
When or how or where do you feel most beautiful?
At the beach or by a river, something about being surrounded by all that natural beauty and some much life. You can feel the water, the sand, the rocks, the wind. I just kind of get this connected feeling, like I am part of it all and that makes me feel beautiful. Plus they’re both so calming, that peace makes me feel internally beautiful.
What is your favorite Rachel Pally piece in your closet?
I have been wearing the Linen Romi Dress in Maple Sugar none stop! I’m a sucker for easy, loose fitting pieces and this one is perfect. The color, the buttons up the side...such a pretty detail and you can unbutton one or two if you want a little breeze. I really love everything I have seen from the current collection, you can tell Rachel put a lot of thought and a lot of love into the designs.