S05 Episode 241 | Reimagining waste as a resource, creativity's battle against commerce & the importance of welcoming financial sustainability into the larger conversation


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In episode 241, Kestrel welcomes Akilah Stewart, the founder and creative director of FATRA, to the show. A creative waste management company, FATRA makes luxury bags from recycled plastics and fabric.

On this week’s show, Akilah shares stories about some of the ways her grandmothers have influenced her and her work today. She also reminds us of the importance of thinking about creativity as a tool for building solutions — and not just an aesthetics-oriented idea.

Kestrel and Akilah talk about the way in which we must be reimagining waste, and truly looking at it as a resource. As Akilah highlights, when so-called “waste” is generated by other animals, they are always finding creative ways to use it in different ways — it’s not something to be simply “thrown away”.

Another big topic that comes up in this conversation is financial sustainability, and some of the ways that the nuances around it have been missing from the sustainability conversation.

  • “I just want to keep it going in that manner — you know, working with immigrant women, working with women who want to develop their skill sets, working with lots of marginalized groups of people — so I think that ultimately, the growth doesn’t have to mean exploitation anywhere — it just means literally doing more good for more people.” -Akilah

  • Episode 4 of The Root, mentioned in the conversation — Akilah was featured in part 3 of this episode

  • “We can’t be puritans to the point where we’re not seeing action.” -Akilah

  • “This is where I feel the creativity is lacking — because generally, when you’re making a product, your creativity is only bound and limited to what’s viable to commerce, to how you can sell that creativity, so therefore, you cannot be fully creative if it doesn’t sell, if it’s something that doesn’t make money.” -Akilah

  • “Lived experiences should be way more valued than they have been.” -Akilah

  • Akilah featured on EMPOWHER NY

  • Akilah featured on Metal Magazine

  • Akilah quoted in Architectural Digest’s Clever

  • Akilah's Upcycling Workshop on Slow Factory

  • Akilah’s CashApp: $FATRA

  • Follow Fatra on Instagram >

This week's episode is brought to you by OEKO-TEX® - a worldwide association of 18 independent research and test institutes that sets standards for safer textile and leather production and products. The OEKO-TEX® portfolio of independent certifications and product labels help all of us make responsible decisions to choose products that are safer, more environmentally friendly, and manufactured in a socially responsible way.

Learn more about their labels at www.oeko-tex.com.

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