Hello Catherine! Thank you so much for agreeing to this interview. First off, can you tell us about you and your blog? How did you get started and what are your passions?
Hi Maryam, thank you so much for inviting me onto your blog! For your readers who don’t know me, I’m Catherine and I’m a UK based teen blogger. My blog focuses on many topics, one of them being climate change awareness. So much more attention needs to be brought to the current crisis because, by 2030, our damage will be irreversible. Another thing I feel strongly about is literature. I absolutely love discussing books with other people. My current Instagram account used to be a bookstagram before it morphed into a platform to advertise my blog!
Where do you live and what is the best thing about your hometown?
I live in the North West of the UK! It’s so lovely around here, although we are suffering the worst with coronavirus out of the entirety of England. I live in a close-knit, small town where everyone knows everyone. My favourite part about where I live is definitely the scenery. There are so many good walks and good views!
What sustainability practices have you incorporated into your everyday life and what do you hope to do next?
Since sustainability became a priority of mine, I adopted a vegetarian lifestyle. Further along the line I decided to boycott fast fashion. However, coming from a money savvy family, buying second hand and making things last has been built in to my nature. You know those plastic sandwich bags? We rarely use them, but in the cases where we need to, we wash them out and hang them on the washing line. Sorry Mum – you didn’t want me to share that – but it’s true!
I would love to become vegan but living with my family makes that difficult. They already cater for my vegetarian needs which is more than enough! I make my breakfast and lunch vegan, but for dinner I’m just veggie. Why I want to be vegan requires a very long-winded answer and rightly deserves a post of its own.
What are your strengths and weaknesses as a blogger? What sets you apart from other creators?
For me, the ideas never stop coming. I’m brimming with new concepts and new blog post ideas. The problem? Well, I don’t always have the time to write them. My weaknesses are definitely the engagement side of things. Growth, especially on the messed up Instagram algorithm, is very hard to navigate. I am quite focused on my own content rather than watching out for other people’s. The content I love, like yours Maryam, I will never fail to read. It’s branching out to new people that is difficult for me!
Generally my anonymity sets me apart from other small bloggers. The more I grow, the more I prove that you don’t need to show your face to be successful. Sure, it does help. However, I started this blog as a budding writer but anxious teenager. I wanted to share my work without having to do all the selfies, shoots and other typically ‘blogger’ things. I hope a teenager stumbles across my blog and releases they can do it too. That’s my aim.
What impact does your introverted nature have on your writing style?
I never even thought it would have an impact on my writing style. Although introverted doesn’t mean quiet, I’m going to share this phrase: ‘Quiet people have the loudest minds’ – Stephen Hawking. Quiet people devote more time to thinking rather than talking. Your mind is like the filter that sorts ideas before they leave your mouth. People of an introverted nature think this is completely normal (to think before you speak), whereas for an extrovert they talk to enable thinking. Does that make sense? I think my introverted nature impacts my writing because I am more straight to the point. I don’t waver. My thoughts have already been filtered before they get typed out, rather than being typed out then chopped up. One method of thinking is not superior to another- I sometimes find my nature of holding back makes it harder to be transparent.
What does your creative process look like and what are your favourite outlets to channel this?
Just like other creators, inspiration comes to me in waves. Although I am never short of ideas, the motivation to complete those ideas can be difficult to find sometimes. One of my favourite places to look when I am feeling demotivated is Pinterest. I have a board called ‘quotes for days’ and it’s really helpful. My other outlets to channel creative energy are through music and video-making. I’ve started doing IGTVs regularly over on my Instagram which has been really exciting!
Tell us about your journey to boycotting fast fashion- what led you to make this lifestyle change and what have you learnt since? Do you believe switching to an entirely sustainable wardrobe is the right choice for everyone?
I think I have a long way to go before I finally reach ‘sustainable.’ Just because I’m not buying into fast fashion doesn’t mean my approach to fashion is sustainable! It was you, Maryam, that introduced me to minimalism. I have always had a pretty sparse wardrobe (only pieces that can be worn with multiple different things). This definitely helped when I switched to only buying second hand. However, for those that like the excitement of having different pieces and a new outfit every day – it’s different. If you know yourself, and you know you can’t thrift everything, don’t give up on the idea. The aim is not perfection – it is just small simple changes. Going cold turkey doesn’t always help either. I did it that way and it’s worked fine for me but I can’t speak for everyone.
I completely understand that it’s a financial struggle for people to afford clothes, never mind experimenting with different styles. If you can’t buy from charity shops because it’s too expensive (in terms of time and energy spent looking for items), then that’s okay. It’s not anything to be ashamed of. In an ideal world, fashion would be a sustainable practice where the workers get paid a living wage and shipping of goods wouldn’t harm the planet. Fashion companies like that at the moment are the minority and they’re really expensive. It will take a while to adjust to the fact that good quality fashion is more expensive than what we’re currently used to. Having a sustainable wardrobe is always the right choice, but it’s not always our place to choose.
You’ve mentioned that you shop primarily at charity stores- how do you thrift successfully and what would you describe your style as being?
I don’t have a style – I just wear what is comfortable and practical. If I ever attempted to wear something ‘fashionable’ my mum would just laugh at me. I take pride in the way I look, but at this current point in my life, putting effort into what I wear is not a priority of mine. Bright colours (especially red and blue) suit me, so that’s what I stick to. I choose to let the outfit speak for itself rather than having to dress it up with jewellery.
Thrifting successfully requires you to go in with an open mind. Don’t have your heart set on any ideas. Throw the expectations away and see what you come out with!
What does a typical day in your life look like? Tell us about your morning and night routine.
I like to start my days off early, between six and seven am. Sometimes I’ll watch a bit of telly first thing (even though it might be bad for me) and other times I’ll read my book. After doing my skincare and getting changed, I head downstairs to make my ritual porridge. After that I’ll double check I’ve got everything ready and head off to school. On the weekends it’s the same except without school.
On the days where school and revision don’t keep me busy, I enjoy bike rides, long walks and blogging. Fortunately I can still meet up with my friends which is lovely. I don’t know what I’d do without them!
At nighttime I find it really enjoyable to do my skincare. It’s very therapeutic and a lovely way to end the day. Depending on the day, I’ll either go downstairs to watch telly with mum or go straight to bed. One thing I never forget is to tidy up my room and set out the next day’s clothes!
These routines work for me because they’re not too strict and easy to carry out when I’m tired. I used to be very ambitious with yoga and cello and all of these healthy activities. Sometimes you’re just not up to it!
You’ve spoken freely about your mental health and are considered a wellness blogger. What inspired you to embrace this level of vulnerability and how do you maintain a positive outlook on situations?
Social media can be really ‘fake’ if you follow the wrong sorts of people. When people follow me, I want them to know that I am actually a human being. I do human things: cry, laugh, make a fool of myself, take days off, sleep forever then wake up and still feel tired. It didn’t even occur to me that I might be ‘oversharing’. I feel so comfortable with my following online that it feels natural to share my ups and downs.
I am so lucky. If I catch myself complaining, I reel back and consider all the things I am grateful for. Things do go wrong but these ‘wrongdoings’ happen for a reason. You’ve got to trust that what is happening now won’t last forever. You will outlast your problems. I like how you have said ‘positive outlook’ rather ‘happy’. Because no-one can smile all the time!
Thank you so much for having me, Maryam! Your questions were really thoughtful and I hope your readers have learned some more about me. I loved sitting down to answer them.