Q and A with Ethel Studio

Written by Kajsa IngelssonApril 16, 2019

There’s plenty of benefits coming from taking up a meditation practice. For me, its been creating more space where I can let things, and myself, flow. Not needing to be anywhere or anyone else, just here and now. Perfectly Present.

I do various different meditations, from chanting to guided ones (here’s my top 10 of the latter on youtube). Lately, I have been able to make my meditations longer. The reason? My amazing and sustainable meditation cushion, removing my back-pain from the equation!

In-love with my new pillow bff, I hit up Maggie Dimmick, the founder of Ethel Studio for a chat about her business and sustainability.

So, what’s the brand mission behind Ethel Studio?

Our mission is to eliminate pre-consumer textile waste and promote personal well-being through meditation. So, we are set out to tackle two pretty massive problems right now. Regarding textile waste, there’s always a fabric wastage of 10-30% when fabric is cut during the garment manufacturing process. Since there isn’t much transparency into the entire global textile industry, the amount of textile waste generated each year is actually unknown, but I’ve seen estimates in the millions of tons each year ending up in landfills and incinerators.

That’s insane. We are trying to change that by starting in our region around Minneapolis and St. Paul, working with local designers to collect all their scraps, from which we can extract fabrics for our products and then find solutions for the rest. It’s an uphill battle, but we are gradually growing our positive impact!

Then there’s the well-being side of our mission: one in five adults in the US deals with mental illness. Anxiety, and depression are showing up in more lives more frequently, while there’s still a stigma against it. And then there’s chronic stress and our fast-paced lifestyles…. Luckily, meditation is being proven in countless studies again and again to help treat and prevent mental illness and elevated stress levels. Also, on a personal note, meditation and mindfulness honestly have changed my life for the better, and I wanted to help people even if as simply as providing support with a meditation cushion for them in starting or deepening their practice.

Photo credit; Camille Lizama

What inspires you as a designer and human being?

So many things! My sources of inspiration are always changing. Being in nature, going to museums, reading, going to art galleries, conversations with new people, traveling, getting out of my comfort zone, dreaming, sleeping, experimenting with colors and materials…  I think what inspires me as a human overlaps with what inspires me as a designer and artist – it’s all intertwined.

I’m so impressed that you are running a zero waste business. Are you adapting a zero waste lifestyle in your personal life as well?

I’m not fully zero-waste at home right now. I’d love to fit all my waste from a year into a glass jar, but I’ve got a ways to go. I think packaging is the biggest problem in my household currently. It’s still a work in progress, but luckily Minneapolis has some great resources like city organics collection, amazing food co-ops with bulk everything, and a new zero-waste market called Tare Market! There’s a saying out there – not sure who said it – about how we need millions of people doing zero-waste imperfectly instead of a few doing zero-waste perfectly. I fit into the imperfect category right now.

Photo credit;  Abbi Miller

Do you agree on the statement that meditation is one of the most important parts in saving the planet? Why?

I think meditation is just one aspect of it. I’m a believer that there’s never one fix to any problem. Saving the planet will require everything to change: consumer behaviour, government policies, technology, companies large and small, education systems, systems of oppression, racial injustice, how we eat, how we travel, how we use and dispose of materials, our relationship to animals and the earth, so many things.

Meditation is a practice towards cultivating awareness. If we have more awareness of our own psychology, our own actions, impulses, and the systems we are upholding by continuing to go about our lives as we have been, then we can start to question them all, and move in the direction toward making a positive change.  Meditation can create a transformation from the inside and help us understand how we are all connected.

Tell us about the inhale/exhale part of your webpage.

INHALE//EXHALE is the “blog” or “journal” part of our site. I’m not 100% sold on the name, but one of my strategies as an entrepreneur is to just try something out and see how it goes, so here we are! But the idea behind it is that we are inhaling and exhaling all day to stay alive, just as we are taking in ideas and concepts, processing them, and then sharing or turning them into action.

Our breath is such an essential ingredient to our life energy, and we all share the same air. Our blog is a place for all kinds of ideas and stories and information to be shared with our community. We are slowly expanding it, so stay tuned!

Credit;  Katie Kelly

What are your top three tips on how to be a green eco-warrior?

This is hard. Only three?

I think questioning and building awareness is important. Develop an awareness of your footprint by asking yourself what materials are passing through my hands each day? What am I choosing to purchase to put on my body? What went into this food that I’m about to eat? I wonder how much the garment worker got paid to make this t-shirt? Where does my tap water come from?

The second is education. There are more books and blogs and information out there than ever before about sustainability. Read up! Take a class, learn! My gateway drug was the book Cradle-to-Cradle; it opened my eyes and gave me nightmares, but completely changed how I approach sustainable design.

Third is defining a focus for yourself, narrowing down how you can use your unique skills and help most effectively to make positive change. For me, I got so overwhelmed by all aspects of sustainability: Fluorocarbons! Pollution, carbon emissions, mono-crops! The bees! It’s a lot, and I felt like there was so much that I couldn’t make a difference. It took some soul-searching, but I came back to the place where I knew I could affect the most change: textile waste. I can use my gifts as an artist and designer to focus my energy in on this one issue to make the most positive impact.