A Tour of the Nation's Capital With D.C.'s Most Stylish Eco Blogger
We have a soft spot for Washington, D.C.-based blogger Rachel Mlinarchik. Mere days after our quiet beta launch, she'd already populated her pretty Pinterest boards with products from Ethica. Coming across her pins was a fantastic "We're real!" moment for us–and it also let us know that this is a woman who's seriously on top of the ethical fashion scene.
More than a year later, her site, My Fair Vanity, still tops our bookmark list. Full of personal style snaps, ethical sale alerts and gorgeous moodboards, it's got everything we look for in a blog. But beyond a shared aesthetic, there's also a smarter–dare we say, D.C.-esque–point of view at work. "On My Fair Vanity, I celebrate style that is kind to the earth and the people on it," Mlinarchik says.
Read on to get to know her–and her favorite spots in the nation's capital.
What first drew you to ethical and sustainable fashion? Probably reading Upton Sinclair's The Jungle in seventh grade. Once I started wondering where our families' meat products came from and how they got to our plates, I was an eco girl for life. As an adult, I chose to work for organizations that address the inequities and injustices that are often (not always) created by the type of world markets we've established. Starting My Fair Vanity was my way of doing less harm in the world, and helping others to do the same.
When I saw the explosion of fashion blogs in the mid-2000s, I felt like there was an elephant in the room that wasn't being addressed. While so many young women were being empowered by this new platform, there were also many times when they were unknowingly contributing to the oppression of their counterparts in lower-income countries by helping to sell goods made by unethical manufacturers. I felt like if I could create a style blog that was interesting and relevant to the women who were reading these blogs, then perhaps my voice and perspective could make some small difference in their awareness as consumers, while I tried to increase my own awareness and understanding of the fashion industry.
What have been the most rewarding and challenging parts of your journey with My Fair Vanity so far? One of the most challenging aspects of My Fair Vanity, at first, was finding brands and retailers that were offering high-quality, on-trend apparel that was ethical. Finding Ethica was like receiving manna from the heavens, and I'm happy to report that over the last year I've found many more wonderful labels to report on, with more and more popping up each day.
The most rewarding part of blogging is having friends or readers tell me that they've purchased something I wrote about–knowing that I've helped just one person to invest in ethical clothing they love makes me so, so happy! It tells me that what I am doing is making a difference in some small way, and that feels good.
Knowing that I've helped just one person to invest in ethical clothing they love makes me so, so happy! It tells me that what I am doing is making a difference in some small way, and that feels good.
Where did you grow up, and what's your favorite part about living in D.C.? I was born in Alexandria, Va. Even though I've lived in Australia, England, Japan and Thailand, I still somehow found my way right back to where I started by settling in Washington, D.C. There are so many things I have come to love about D.C.! I love that we have so many trees lining our streets. I love that it's a very walkable city, and when you can't walk, there's always a bus or metro line that can get you where you want to go. I love our local consignment stores and our free museums, but most of all, I love the restaurants. In the downtown area and lining 14th Street, there are so many wonderful local restaurants that I could eat at a different place for months without ever visiting a chain, and there has been an explosion in attention to using fresh, local ingredients.
I live in Dupont Circle, which is an important stop to make in any D.C. tour, and great place to stay if you want to be within walking distance of (or a brief cab ride to) all of the awesome bars and restaurants on 14th Street, the White House and Georgetown. Grab a gelato from Dolcezza and people-watch from the fountain. Then, stop into Kramerbooks to browse for good reads, but be sure to finish up with a gigantic slice of their homemade pie–and feel free to wash it down with a glass of wine at the bar!
For dinner, head to Founding Farmers for local, organic fare housed in a gold-LEED-certified building. Or check out their sister restaurant, Farmers Fishers Bakers, on the Georgetown waterfront. You’ll dine in a silver-LEED-certified building and choose from a menu that incorporates only fresh, locally farmed and seasonal ingredients. Even the tequila is local–you won’t find any Patron here, but you will find that all elixirs, infusions and simple syrups are made in-house, which makes for amazing sodas and cocktails.
For eco-friendly shopping, I recommend Secondi for well-edited and well-priced consignment, and The Proper Topper for a unique selection of hats, jewelry, clothing and gifts with a strong contingent of local designers and sustainable materials on offer by the knowledgeable staff.
Last but not least, no trip to D.C. would be complete without visiting our free museums! No matter what era or genre of art you prefer, you can see the very best at no cost via the Smithsonian Institution Museums.