Originally published on April 22, 2019
adjective. Being or offering no more than what is required essential.
HOW DOES IRINA VICTORIA JEWELRY PRACTICE MINIMALISM?
Embrace slow fashion. We’re all familiar with the cheap prices, high volume sales, quick turnover and wasteful model of fast fashion, right? Well let us introduce you to Slow Fashion: it prioritizes craftsmanship, quality, customer service and low-waste practices. We intentionally create our jewelry made-to-order or in small batches (no more than 10 pieces) to decrease the amount of “stuff” we accumulate and waste we produce. Designs are priced to reflect the fair market value of materials, living wage labor and the care that is put into each piece.
Less is more. Our goal is to create jewelry that is evergreen and for our site be a source of intentional shopping.
Pack with purpose. Fine jewelry inherently requires sturdy packaging to prevent damage in transit, but you’ll rarely find additional marketing flyers or excessive fillers inside.
WHAT DOES MINIMALISM MEAN TO YOU, PERSONALLY?
Irina: Minimalism means being aware of my choices. My life feels less cluttered and chaotic because I’m narrowing my focus on gathering and maintaining only what is essential for me and my home. Accumulating material possessions isn’t important to me anymore so I buy less, but each purchase I make holds a lot of weight... How does it impact the planet? Is the labor fair and ethical? Do I trust this company to use my money for good? Will this last for a long time? Do I actually need this?
Lauren: for me, minimalism is a breath of fresh air, literally! It encompasses most of the values I currently hold near and dear to my heart. Living a life with less clutter is so freeing physically and mentally. Doing my best to control as little impact on the environment as I can is extremely fulfilling.
WHAT GOT YOU INTO THE MINIMALIST MOVEMENT?
I: Being broke. I quit my job as a research scientist to start Irina Victoria Jewelry so I went from a steady paycheck to needing financial assistance from my fiance. Thankfully we were able to cover the bare minimum living expenses on one income, but I had to cut out frivolous spending real quick. That included spontaneous trips to coffee shops, going out for brunch or lunch, buying new clothes, buying home furnishings, buying beauty products... pretty much any sort of unjustified spending. You don’t realize how much mindless shopping you do until you have to stop!
L: in short, Irina (lol). I did not grow up in a minimalist household nor was I living anything near a minimalist lifestyle. When I started helping with IVJ and learning more about sustainability it all just kind of clicked. By trying a little harder and doing some research, I’m making things a lot easier for myself and the people around me.
WHAT DOES YOUR MINIMALIST LIFESTYLE LOOK LIKE?
I: For reference, I live in a 750 sq ft apartment with my husband and our kitty. I think it’s important to acknowledge that minimalism looks different for everyone because we all have individual needs. Our walls, bedding and furniture are not pristine white like a Pinterest search for minimalism would have you believe. Our home feels cozy and chock-full of the usual first-world amenities. By some standards we may not appear to be minimalists, but our habits tell another story.
Once minimalism became voluntary I started shopping again, but with a refreshed perspective. Firstly, I let go of the notion that I needed to keep up with everyone else. Secondly, with every purchase I consider my impact on the environment.
Excluding groceries, the 1-2 times/month I shop is typically to replace something I’ve run out of or donated. I rarely shop at Target, the mall or Amazon unless there’s something specific I need. My wardrobe is the opposite of extensive; all four seasons (not packed in bins) can comfortably fit into a single small closet. I try to support as many small and eco-friendly/cruelty-free businesses as I can when I shop. I rarely buy things on sale anymore because I’ve shifted my mindset to consider cost per use. When you spend less overall you have more to spend and I fully expect to pay more for something high quality that has a long life span. I was once told, “you buy cheap, you buy twice”, top 5 best advice I’ve received in my adult life.
Any money saved is used for date nights, travel and long-term savings/investment. I still have moments where I envy what others have-- ahem, love/hate relationship with social media-- but when I stop to think about my life I realize I have everything I need and that's all that matters at the end of the day.
L: A work in progress. I recently moved and while packing up, the amount of stuff I donated was truly liberating, but I still had so much stuff. Little by little I’m continuing to donate and parting with belongings gets easier every time. With minimalism I live for the small victories. These include: seeing my fiancé recycling items he would not have in the past, getting my work office involved in recycling all the unused paper we print regularly and stopping to ask myself, “do I really need this?” before impulsively buying something.
WHAT’S THE MOST FRUSTRATING PART OF MINIMALISM?
I: Something I want to buy doesn’t align with what I need or my values and having that inner conversation to walk away/close the browser tab. Ugh.
L: Instant gratification. As a consumer today, everything is at our fingertips! I can google anything and it will appear at my doorstep within days- it’s really dangerous for me when I’m trying to adapt to a minimalist lifestyle! Another thing is guilt. Like I said above, I’m still a work in progress and I’m able to recognize when I’m not practicing what I preach. When that happens I honestly feel a wave of guilt that in time, I hope to relieve myself from.
Final Thought: HOW DOES MINIMALISM AFFECT THE PLANET?
The planet is a living, breathing eco-system. Though there may be miles of land and ocean separating countries and cultures, our daily choices compound and affect one another. The impermanence of material possessions makes it easy to forget that our decisions can have a lasting impact beyond a single lifetime. Imagine how much pollution can be avoided simply by changing our shopping habits.
Shopping in a way that doesn't hurt others or our planet should be accessible to all. Ethical fashion should be an industry standard, not a costly privilege.
Fashion writer, The Cut