At culthread we pride ourselves on working with like-minded individuals who represent our brand and the values we uphold, this is why when it comes to working with external parties we strive to find those who support our brand values. After being lucky enough to work with some amazing individuals, we thought we would create a new series called ‘CULTALKS’. Here we will be having conversations with everyone from our models to photographers, delving into their values and how these align with ours at culthread and simply highlighting just how amazing they are.
Our first guest for CULTALKS is a wonderful photographer from our most recent shoot, Alex Grace Jones (@alexgracejones_photos); she’s insanely talented, vegan and a sustainability advocate. To find out more about Alex head over to her website: alexgracejones.com.
In conversation with Alex Grace Jones
What made you want to become a photographer?
“My whole family have always been very into photography, my mum was a wedding photographer when I was growing up and my dad collects film cameras and knows more about photography than anyone I've ever met. I started taking photos of my friends when I was in my final year of drama school, realised I loved it and decided to make it into a career.”
What does being sustainable mean to you?
“To me, sustainability is all about trying to live my life in a way that causes the least amount of permanent damage to the world around me. Reducing the impact I have on the world by replacing things I use every day with better alternatives e.g., not eating meat, not buying fast fashion, avoiding single-use plastic.”
What made you start your sustainability blog?
“The main thing for me was trying to buy cruelty-free products, when I went vegan I changed my whole lifestyle, I stopped eating all animal products but I also stopped wearing leather and I only bought cruelty-free beauty products. Things weren't labelled as clearly as they are now 6 or 7 years ago and so I would spend hours in the aisles of Boots trying to find out what shampoo hadn't been tested on animals. I decided to make a blog with posts on what products were cruelty-free and vegan to make it easier for others trying to do the same.
These days a simple google can normally get you the answer if the bottles themselves aren't labelled, whereas back then I would have to email the company to ask on a daily basis to be able to put together lists for people.”
Does your sustainability mission impact your work? If so, how?
“This is an interesting question and something I think about a lot. There are two main things that I would say do. Firstly, the fact that I love shooting on film, and the film is not vegan. I honestly don't know how I feel about this, it's very very frustrating that no one has invented a film that doesn't use animal products yet and it's something I feel very hypocritical about. Over the years, PETA has pressured film manufacturers to find a gelatine substitute, and while Kodak and Fuji have researched non-animal alternatives, they still claim that they cannot replace animal gelatine in film. My bio used to be “plant-eating, photo taking northerner obsessed with 35mm film” which is a contradiction and something that really bothers me.
The second thing is that I am primarily a fashion photographer and sometimes jobs come up for fast-fashion retailers. On the one hand, it's sometimes a great career opportunity in terms of my photography and on the other I have personal objections to working with such brands.
I haven't solved either of these dilemmas so I'm always open to people’s opinions.”
Are you more likely to shop with a brand that has sustainable practices?
“Oh 100%, I fully appreciate it's a privilege that I am able to afford to shop at truly sustainable brands. However, I would always rather buy one high end/ sustainably made piece than ten cheap and poorly made, unethical ones.
My wardrobe is pretty sparse but I take a lot of pride in the fact that everything is either sustainably made or thrifted and something I will have for a very long time. Quality over quantity.”
How do you incorporate sustainability into your daily life? Are there any particular swaps you have made?
“I mean being vegan is a big one, and then things like taking public transport (I'm in London so that's an easy one), avoiding single-use plastic wherever possible, and trying to support small local businesses when shopping too.”
How long have you been vegan for and how come you became vegan?
“I have been vegan for about 6 years now I believe. I've been a pescatarian since I was 7 though.”
What advice would you give someone thinking about going vegan?
1) “Get really really solid on your ‘why?’. Why are you doing this, what makes you want to make these changes. If you don't have a clear why it's going to be so easy to 'fall off the wagon'.”
2) “There is no set way. Even having one vegan day a week is a massive help over a year so never let other people’s opinions or your own judgement of yourself stop you from making changes. To quote Tesco, every little helps!”
Which was your favourite culthread piece?
“The Ladbroke with cow print pockets. LOVE IT!”