Interview with Djuna Da Silva from Djuna Shay
Posted on May 23, 2016
On today's podcast, I talk to Djuna Da Silva from Djuna Shay. Djuna Shay is a mother-daughter duo that produces vegan clothing and accessories that are made with love in Brooklyn, NY. They design custom textile prints, on eco-friendly and organic fabrics that look better than leather or suede every would. They are working right now to create fun statement pieces that are available in a range of sizes because style shouldn’t only fit some people, it should fit all people.
Djuna Da Silva is a native New Yorker, with an art wearing and textile designer mother. Who grew up surrounded by the fashion industry. Some of her first memories are going to meetings with her mom at other designers showrooms and watching her create beauty through fabric. Djuna has forever loved fashion as a way to relate to the world around her. Djuna's mother is a big part of that world, was always quick to point out to her, the less glamorous side. Whether it was profit over ethics, unrealistic beauty standards, etc etc. She still wanted to be a designer, she just didn’t know how to do it and have it align with her values.
Djuna always loved animals growing up, like most kids. She sang all the farm songs, she just didn’t make the connection between which animal got to be beloved, and which was considered food. She still remembers the conversation she had with my father when she was a little girl about when they were driving through the country and pulled over to pet some cows. She asked him how they chose which cows got to stay and play here, and which they would eat. His response was that they all would, that the cows she was seeing in front of her, would be the same that end up on a plate. That forever stayed with her. However she didn’t stop eating meat, she kept eating it, feeling bad about it, and feeling overwhelmed because she didn’t know what to do. It all felt “too hard”. When Djuna was 15, In her HS history class she read Fast Food Nation and Naomi Klein's book No logo. It changed something in her. Upset and sad, she spoke to a teacher about what she could do to change that feeling. Not eating animals became her first answer, and it went on from there! In college dairy milk went out the door, then eggs, then lastly cheese. At the same time, she thought about what it meant to be a vegetarian that wore leather, and she started changing that too.
There is nothing smart in a killing. Nothing stylish in suffering. Nothing chic in exploitation. Djuna thinks anyone would agree with these statements. She believes that everyone wants to be as good as possible, wants to do the best they can. However, she thinks there are two main problem areas that stop that from happening: the ease of technology which has lead to a loss of consciousness, about how interconnected everything on this planet is. When you can get whatever you want at a moments notice, ala crab legs and a tennis racket from amazon prime at 2 AM. You don’t think about the true cost of these items. How the animal is killed relates to the forest cut down to keep it, how the leather from the cow that is killed, gets produced, which pollutes the water. The other problem is feeling helpless and overwhelmed when you become aware of that cycle of suffering and exploitation and how we are a part of it.
Djuna created Djuna Shay as a response to that feeling. We need to have clothing options that mirror what is wanted right now in the public. Cool, chic, fun accessories and clothing, that make people feel good, both with what they are wearing, and the choices they are supporting when buying. So that they don’t feel like they are missing out on anything style wise. We need to keep promoting a future of fashion that doesn’t make someone say style or substance. We need to encourage a shift that they CAN BOTH exist together.
Please email questions or comments to the Grape Cat Fashion and Business Podcast.
We are looking for more vegan business owners to interview. If you would like to be interviewed and tell your story. Please email the Grape Cat Fashion and Business Podcast.
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