ZERRIN’s Shared Journeys series spotlights individuals from various walks of life. Their backgrounds and experiences may differ, but they have all developed one thing in common: a strong sense of connectedness to themselves, to others and to the world around them.
Here we chat to Elisa Naquevi, a marketing manager and the founder of Tropikelle, a blog which raises awareness of conscious living and sustainable brands.
Elisa wears the Talee Aru Loops in Wine & Mustard, and dress by ESSE
Not many people are blogging about sustainability in Asia. Why choose this niche?
It wasn’t until I arrived in Singapore that it hit me. There’s little environmental awareness in Asia in general, so that’s probably why there aren’t as many people talking about it online in the region.
It was here that I dug deeper into the topic, and thought about how I could contribute to raising awareness. Being a fashion lover, I quickly discovered how the industry contributes to the disastrous environmental situation that we’re facing today. That’s what led me to start a blog to address the topic.
What inspired the name Tropikelle?
I’m a lover of sun, beaches and the slow life. After an unforgettable road trip through the Dominican Republic, I fell even more in love with that lifestyle. I love how everything goes at a “slower” pace in tropical countries. People seem to enjoy life more and are conscious of the wonderful things it has to offer. All of us could use some more of that attitude, especially in fast-paced Singapore!
I wanted the name of the blog to reflect that. I associate tropical with beaches, pineapples, nature and the environment. A friend of mine calls me “Elle” and I thought I would add that for a more personal touch!
Explain your mission behind the blog, Tropikelle and what you stand for.
Tropikelle is a platform to discover tips for living a more conscious lifestyle. I like to talk about topics that will inspire readers to make better choices for themselves and for the environment. That involves a wide range of things, but I largely focus on healthy habits that anyone can adopt, like sharing nutritious recipes that are free of refined sugars and saturated fats or clean beauty routines with products that are free of nasty chemicals.
Of course, last but not least, I talk about fashion brands that care about the people that make their clothes as much as the textiles that they use for their garments. I believe that when you’re aware of who made your clothes and how – you feel more empowered by your choices. There’s something powerful about knowing where your clothes come from. It’s a special feeling and makes the piece of clothing or accessory that much more meaningful. Loved clothes last and they don’t end up forgotten in a corner of your closet.
“Loved clothes last and they don’t end up forgotten in a corner of your closet.”
Tell us about some of your favourite conscious brands you’ve discovered. What drew you to them?
Through searching for brands to write about on Tropikelle, I’ve found some great ones that have become favourites of mine. Some of my favourites are brands from Singapore. I love designs from Matter Prints. I’d never seen anything like it until I arrived here, and I’m a sucker for great design. Their jumpsuits are so comfy and are perfect for travelling around the region. They use traditional block printing techniques, natural dyes and also organic cotton. They empower local artisans from different countries in the region and bring them to the spotlight so that their amazing work is recognised. I think the work of the whole team is remarkable.
Baliza is another brand that I love, and it produces beautiful resort wear. They work with Ladli Jaipur, an NGO that empowers women in India. Their beautiful kaftans are made by hand with beautiful attention to detail. They have also launched an organic cotton collection which feels amazing. It was also a nice surprise to discover that the founder of the brand is a Spaniard. That was another extra point for me!
I also love ESSE, a Singapore brand with the most beautiful ethereal vibe. They use natural fabrics for their designs that have that chic and effortless Asian look that we admire so much in the West.
A recent discovery was the brand GRANA, from Hong Kong, which makes more everyday wear and uses quality natural materials like silk and Tencel. I was speaking with one of the guys at their pop up in Singapore and he explained how they really get to know the factories they work with and how they care about the whole supply chain, which is important to me.
For skincare, my favourite brand in Singapore is Biconi. Their products are carefully made by hand with natural ingredients only. I noticed a big difference in my complexion soon after I started using their cleanser and glow serum.
How do you perceive the sustainable fashion industry in Singapore/Asia?
I feel like the rate of awareness has grown a lot in the past years. Organisations like Fashion Revolution Singapore, Green is the New Black or Connected Threads Asia are doing an amazing job to spread the word.
There’s a lot more to do to help consumers become more aware of what’s behind the clothes they buy. And more sustainable fashion brands are appearing in the region, which is amazing. It means two great things are happening. First, brands are caring more about the environment and the people that make their clothes. Second, there’s a growing demand for conscious fashion that needs to be satisfied. I think that’s a big step forward.
What is one thing you stand for and believe in and why?
I believe that we as consumers have the power to change the demand and encourage companies to be more sustainable. Even the big fast fashion companies. For example, if you go to Zara or H&M and buy an organic cotton t-shirt instead of the regular cotton one, next time their purchasing department makes an order they will increase the budget for organic cotton t-shirts. We have the power to control the industry. Every purchase is a vote, and we should use that power every single time.
To you, #shopmeaningfully means…
Being aware of what’s behind the brand I’m giving my money to. Shopping meaningfully in fashion becomes easier when you are making considered actions. Knowing that you’re not just shopping because you’re sad or because something is cheap. It means buying consciously. Knowing what is behind the product. When I know that I’m buying something that I truly love and that I can combine with the rest of my closet, it’s a guarantee that I’ll wear that piece many times to come.
We hope you enjoyed the read about Elisa and Tropikelle! For a weekly dose of inspiration and to find out about our latest interviews, features and new arrivals delivered straight to your inbox, join our community here.
Susannah believes better design can help create a brighter future. A former magazine editor, she now runs ZERRIN and works at the intersection of consumers, brands and sustainability advocacy.