In this fall edition of #GalsWeDig, we’re channeling some serious Canadain vibes with our first international girl-crush, Sara Brown of Hamilton, Ontario.
Sara’s blog, Petra Alexandra houses a wealth of information about literally everything we’re into, like slow fashion, home decor, green living, conscious style, and non-toxic beauty. We also love following her #OOTD posts on the ole IG to glean simple style inspiration and outfit hacks.
With so many triggering buzzwords in sustainable fashion, we love how Sara continues to keep the ethical space authentic with her honest commentary. Her commentary always garners a sense of engaging connection as she uses the platform along with her influence for the good of humanity.
And then there’s the visual aspect: with a background in marketing, Sara’s minimalistic, vintage eye is warm and inviting. Her clean style weaves beyond her outfits and home decor and seeps into everything she touches.
Without further ado, continue to scroll for our recent Q + A with Sara!
Tell us about the evolution of your blog, PetraAlexandra. How did you get started, and has anything shifted to get it to where it is today?
I work in marketing at a non-profit - which is a really great space to be in, and even though our salaries are less than a nice cushy corporate job, this job helped me buy a house! When I got it, I knew I would have zero money to spare - it was super tough at first! But it inspired me to get back to my roots in making, re-making and re-using things to their full potential.
Clothes were the biggest area I spent money on, so I knew I had to change my habits. I tried out @leevosburgh's 10x10 challenge, where you wear 10 items of clothing in 10 days, documenting it on Instagram to help myself stay accountable to loving what I owned. I captured the process of reno-ing my house, and growth started to happen organically! It was then that I thought, "okay, let's see if I can use my marketing skills outside of work," and I began in earnest to create content that was true to me but could also help other people on their way to living sustainably. I was taking everyone along on the ride with me while I navigated this new territory!
I would say what's shifted is a more defined focus on what I know people come to me for. Clothing, styling tips, conscious options, where to start, and sustainable living. At first, I was throwing spaghetti at a wall to see what stuck, but now I can spend more of my energy creating content that I know people want and expect.
How do you remain inspired?
I'm a huge Myers-Briggs personality type enthusiast, so I'm going to use that to guide this answer: I'm an INTJ, so having stimulating conversations along with plenty of peaceful alone time is my recipe for success!
I don't talk about clothes because they're clothes. I talk about them because of the people. I love seeing how the wearers use clothes as an expression, an exclamation - and how makers pour so much of themselves into their work. I mean, yes, I'll admit that as a visual person the fact that clothes are beautiful keeps me sticking around. But having meaningful conversations with makers to get a look at their process is a huge source of fuel for me.
Instagram is a great place to get inspired if you find the right corner. My favourite thing to do is just get visually stimulated by colour, composition...saving them on mood boards for later.
I get a lot of styling inspiration from people like @alissaetc who always have neat tricks on how to wear thrifted items multiple ways, too.
And if all else fails? A good long walk in the park, a book on the couch, and spinning some records is a sure-fire way to refuel.
Coffee or Tea?
Coffee. Black Americano from my stovetop percolator!
Do you have any daily rituals, or are you energized by spontaneity?
Somewhere in between. I like the peacefulness of rituals, because I know I don't have to spend energy on scheduling or remembering things. It gives me room to use my imagination! Now, this next bit is a very INTJ thing to say: I kind of schedule my spontaneity. For real. I love winging it, but it's got to be within a timeframe where I've already said, "anything can happen this weekend, and I'm game for it!"
What can't you get enough of right now?
Being outside now that the weather is finally beautiful! And gin and tonics. Preferably at the same time.
Favorite place you've traveled?
Scotland. It's where half my family is from, and I feel like a piece of my soul is still there. Plus, I really miss the winding roads and driving on the opposite side!
The best advice you've ever received?
Fake it 'til you make it. From one of my profs at film school. When I first heard it, I 100% thought it was a silly thing to say. Well, a decade later it turns out she was right!
What do you love the most about your corner of Canada?
I like the mix of city + wildness, and that I can do both. I live in an old industrial city that is still fuelled economically by iron and steel production. We're right on one of the great lakes, so you've got this huge industrial sector in the bay, contrasted with a ton of Canadian history, and on the escarpment, amazing hiking and dozens of scenic waterfalls - all less than 10 minutes from my house. Not to mention a population of wicked talented artists, musicians and business owners enthusiastic about supporting local culture and economy, while pushing the envelope on sustainability. It's a neat place to be.
What does a "conscious consumer" look like to you?
The people who do it in their own way - starting with what's easiest for them. Throwing everything out or doing everything all at once is a sure-fire way to shock yourself into going back to old habits - and ends up creating more waste for the landfill anyway! It can seem so overwhelming at first. So I always say, love what you have. USE what you have. And take it slow. One thing at a time, and two years from now you'll turn around and realize just how much you've changed. It's okay to still love and use your old things, your old fast fashion, the shampoo you still have some left of.
The thing is, if you feel pressured or guilty or shameful, it's not a healthy place to be. Being a conscious consumer is also about being conscious of what you need as a person, so being easy on yourself and allowing forgiveness and time is so important.
What changes in the fashion industry do you hope to see within the next decade?
True inclusivity. So we have people interested in conscious fashion, amazing. But it's time for all of us, brands included, to actively and earnestly look at how we can better partner with, represent and support the voices of those who are consistently overlooked or actively silenced. This is inclusive of gender, age, size, race, economic situation. For example, so few brands actually offer sizes above XL - and when they do, it's often for just one or two styles. This completely passes over an entire group of people who are valid and should be included, who have been ignored by fashion brands over and over. Conscious fashion is about more than the materials or the people making the clothes. It's time to take our view of conscious fashion full-circle.