INTERVIEW WITH JO LORENZ
Editor of Conscious Citizen
We've long admired your motivating others' to get engaged with the world around them and to care about their choices - all of which aligns with the #peopleandplanetkind ethos driving Real Pretty Kind
Briefly tell us what triggered your pursuit of this cause
For as long as I can remember, I’ve always been interested in environmental, cultural, social and political causes. I was never one to shy away from a healthy debate (sorry Mum and Dad) and I have always openly talked about my beliefs.
Here’s where this took me since being a Tween:
After finishing school, I started working as a writer - and continue to this day. Although I loved the people with whom I worked, I always felt like there was something missing and I never felt 100% fulfilled in my career.
When I really started to think about what was lacking in my world, I immediately realised the part of me not being satisfied was my creative and artistic side. So, I took a leap of faith and embarked on an entirely new journey, working as an editorial stylist – this 100% fulfilled my creative needs, but much to my amazement, also sat well with Instagram as a visual platform and there I built a pretty decent following. And while this was never the goal, I was certainly happy with this lovely bi-product of the creative process.
The bulk of my Instagram following was interested in my account for aesthetic and style-related reasons, so I gave the lovely people what they wanted in the form of high-conceptualised and styled photographs. Yet, as I still possessed the heart and soul of purpose, I always tried to couple the imagery with a little light humour, positivity, and brief social or political commentary.
HARNESSING BOTH TO MY PURPOSE:
And THEN it dawned on me that we (myself included) had all been talking around - and not about - the issues that mattered the most for far too long. So I decided to bring these issues to the forefront of my Instagram account and my website, in order to make these harder conversations more digestible. The account still stood for style, yet with complementary and significant social substance!
Through my work, I hope to help enable conscious citizens, who act based on a greater understanding of social, political and environmental nuance. Everything we do in our lifestyle has cause and effect - and I hope that my work can help people take ownership of this in the way they consume, the way interact with others, and with how they recognise and use their privilege.
FINDING MY VOICE. SHARING MY PURPOSE
Many of our Tween community have a passion or purpose but perhaps haven't found their voice yet - or the appropriate platform to share their message.
What practical and emotional barriers did you have to overcome to get your message out there?
I remember the exact moment I knew I wasn’t being heard.
I was 14 and I wrote an English essay on racism - specifically on the racism directed towards the black community in America. When the essay came back to me, my English teacher had not graded it, nor had she offered any critique of my structure or substance. How odd I thought? And then I saw it. Right there in red pen, at the bottom of the essay. “This is not your problem”, she had written. This is not your problem.
This occurrence - which was very likely simply a speck in time for my teacher - was ultimately a hugely significant and defining moment for me. Her comments left me horrified, angry and deeply disappointed. Not only did it completely change how I viewed this teacher - it also made me lose faith in the entire system.
Now, am I saying that school and education isn’t important? No, I am definitely NOT saying that. Education is vital. However, I am saying that sometimes the system can be wrong - or a person within it can be wrong. If you have a teacher or adult that doesn’t support your passions - or understand your goals - you are not the wrong one. They are!
My top tip for Tweens first of all, is to always follow and stick to your passions, regardless of what a teacher or adult may say about them. Don’t be swayed by any negativity, as only you know what is important to you. Trust your gut!
More than 25 years later I am still fiercely consumed by the injustice of race and the other social constructs that surround it. That teacher was, and possibly still is, 100% wrong! Of course racism is my problem. It is everyone’s problem!
Yet in relation to sharing your voice and passions with others, again I would say listen to your gut feelings. What type of communication do you feel most in ease within? Is it face-to-face communication, digital communication, or through art, for example?
Identify the communication medium you feel most comfortable within and then use it as a platform to share your views. I promise you, when your feelings are genuine (REAL), and come from a good place (KIND) it always, always shines through authentically and powerfully in your actions, voice and work.
MY PERSONAL WINS
Ok of course we HAVE to ask this question: what are you most proud of having achieved in the pursuit of your purpose?
The success of my website, Conscious Citizen, makes my heart and soul sing! On it - as well as on the corresponding Instagram accounts - we focus on enabling our readers to achieve cultural, environmental, social and political awareness.
We work with pioneers in the ethical sustainable fashion and clean beauty industries, as well as on features around environmentalism, intersectional feminism and social mindfulness*, to encourage readers to be invariably more aware of their personal impact and accordingly be #ConsciousCitizens.
* aware these are big concepts so worth a Google on their own rights. But basically it’s about equality of human rights, living in mindful ways to look after the planet as best possible and improve our todays and our tomorrows – all pretty much in line with the values of REAL PRETTY KIND ™ so if you’re reading this you’re probably thinking along these lines too and we’re glad to be on the journey with you. Happy Days.
Has it helped to empower you simply in having a purpose? If so please explain.
Yes definitely! What and how we consume, our political and social beliefs, our understanding of the effect we have on the environment and on other people’s livelihoods - all these things matter.
To live in a way in which you are conscious of your surroundings, your consumption, your words, your impact - means you can truly live with a sense of style and fulfilment. Feed your body and soul with quality, and your mind with light and truth!
YOUR PURPOSE - YOUR FRIENDSHIPS
Did your purpose affect your friendship group or popularity or socially gain you respect in any way?
Yes! As mentioned I had always spoken about cultural, environmental, social and political issues on Instagram (amongst other places), yet these topics were more in the background of the account’s aesthetics.
So when I brought these conversations to the forefront of the account my following dropped dramatically.
The more I spoke, the more followers I lost
and I realised that many of the people that had followed me perhaps didn’t want me to have a voice.
So I lost those followers - yet at the same time, I gained new and wonderful ones. I now find myself in such a privileged position, with an incredibly smart, conscious and switched on community of people (mainly women) following me on Instagram. I feel like there is no topic too taboo for us to discuss and I feel fulfilled, both creatively and with my writing. I will always be grateful to my Instagram followers (and to my husband for supporting my many career shifts!).
In Summary I guess living with purpose and owning my truth definitely lost me ‘friends’ and gained me friends too.
But - AND THIS IS IMPORTANT -
the friends I made are more valuable than the ones I lost by a million miles.
They respect me for who I truly am. And I respect myself more, which is ultimately the most valuable popularity.
EMPOWERED THROUGH PURPOSE
Please offer your best piece of practical or emotional advice to any Tweens feeling overwhelmed by climate change or other ethics based anxiety; and way to feel less guilt or stress, and more hope.
Climate change can be incredibly overwhelming - I get it. Yet I think it’s so very important that we all have constant conversations about it. The human mind becomes better equipped to manage and deal with serious problems and stress, when it faces and discusses the problems at hand.
So talk to your friends about your anxieties. Share your fears with your parents and teachers. Write letters to politicians and big corporations. At the end of the day, the more you do to combat your anxieties, head-on, the stronger you will feel.
Please offer your best piece of advice to any Tweens unsure if the putting yourself out there is really worth it/ whether they can make a difference
Every single person has the potential to have a huge, lasting and positive impact on our planet and her people. You are never too small - you are never too young.
Within your power - and within your passions - are the keys and solutions to our planet’s future.
Never think you can’t make a difference. Your very existence is your difference.
Use your voice - use your outrage - and use your passions!