February 4rd, 2021
By Karen Hartman
Want to dive deeper into a topic or broaden your horizons? Podcasts are an enjoyable way to access quality information. But what happens when there is a lack of diversity in podcast hosts?
Even though it's a medium that covers a huge variety of topics, podcasting is not exactly known for the diversity of its voices. A 2015 survey of over 800 podcasts on Itunes found that 66% of podcasts had a white male host and only 18 percent had at least 1 BIPOC host. BIPOC women made up only 7.29% of podcast hosts.
Looking at that data, it makes you wonder, how broad are the horizons if the view is always pointed in a limited direction?
What about the view from the start of 2021 looking back on 2020? How much diversity was found in the top podcasts? Specifically, how many BIPOC women were hosting shows?
I did a survey of The New Yorker’s top 2020 podcasts. Of the 16 hosts I could find pictures and biographic data for, only 1 of the hosts was identifiable as a BIPOC woman. If you look at Vogue’s 2020 list of Fashion Podcasts You Should Know, you will find a little more diversity on the list. Of 19 hosts mentioned, 4 were identifiable as BIPOC women.
Clearly there is room at the podcast mic for more BIPOC women’s voices and this is why I was so excited when I found out about The Conscious Cut Podcast.
Hosted by fashion industry veterans JeLisa Marshall and Ny Pen, The Conscious Cut Podcast will focus on fashion, sustainability, and conscious living from their perspective as BIPOC women living in the Pacific Northwest.
I was so grateful to be able to catch up with JeLisa to discuss her new podcast. I hope you enjoy reading this Q&A and get excited about having more options for your podcast library.
CONGRATULATIONS ON LAUNCHING THE CONSCIOUS CUT PODCAST! TELL ME MORE ABOUT PROJECT?
Thank you so much. The podcast was launched as a more structured version of the conversations my friend, Ny, and I have regarding life and style.
We met years ago while working together in fashion retail and bonded over the challenges and concerns that we each had encountered, as women of color, in our careers. We found our spirits weren't nourished, valued or understood enough within the corporate work environment.
So, after a few maybe if's, we decided to share our perspectives and shine a light on other people of color - and their supporters - with businesses throughout the region who have experienced the same struggle.
We want people to understand the importance of allyship and, at the same time, know you don't (and shouldn't feel like you) have to be white, work at a big company or live in a major city to find success in the world while making it a better place.
MOST PEOPLE KNOW YOU THROUGH YOUR WORK AS A REMAKE AMBASSADOR OR YOUR WORK AS A STYLIST WHERE YOU SPECIALIZE IN HELPING YOUR CLIENTS BUILD A CLOSET THAT REFLECTS THEIR CONSCIENCE. WHAT IS IT ABOT THE PODCAST FORMAT THAT MADE YOU DECIDE THIS WAS THE NEXT STEP?
Ny and I had always joked that we should start a podcast. We have unearthed some pretty precious gems over the course of our friendship. If only we had press record!
Now seemed like the perfect time to start - with all of the tension in the air exasperated by the pandemic, especially in Seattle. We needed inspiration and figured other people might too.
WHAT DO YOU THINK IS THE BIGGEST MISUNDERSTANDING ABOUT THE INTERSECTION BETWEEN ENVIRONMENTAL AND SOCIAL JUSTICE?
I think the circumstances of 2020 made it evident, particularly for those who have not extended themselves far enough beyond themselves, that racism is deeply rooted in the foundation of westernized societies. This notion is the purpose for environmental and social justice. One cannot exist without the other - and that, in my opinion, is the biggest misunderstanding. We need both in order to fulfill The Dream.
WHERE DID YOUR INTEREST IN SUSTAINABILITY START AND LOOKING BACK, WHAT WAS THE THING THAT CAUSED YOU TO TRANSITION FROM UNDERSTANDING THERE WAS A PROBLEM TO ACTIVIELY STEPPING UP TO BE A PART OF THE SOLUTION?
Honestly, since birth - just never called it sustainability until recently. It was simply living. My family raised me to take good care of the land, one another, myself and my belongings. Many of them were (raised by) farmers, so waste of any kind was not acceptable.
Though I chose a different profession, I have carried similar ideals and values with me throughout my life. Let's be clear. I am still perfecting the process to this day and some days are a struggle, for real, especially being a millennial working in the city.
Let me tell you about composting in an apartment. Whew!
My call to action for change in the fashion industry came in the spring of 2019 after feeling like I wasn't doing enough to compensate for my participation in mass production. I hit a wall. My moral bank was low, Karen...really low. I knew I had to find a creative yet impactful way to take what I learned in the supply chain and share it.
People shouldn't be so disconnected from how their clothes are made. It would prevent a lot of waste. Interestingly, it's kind of a full circle moment...taking me back to the preservation of land and resources like my ancestors.
HAVING WORKED IN FASHION FOR THE LAST 10 YEARS, WHAT'S A COMMON MISTAKE YOU SEE WOMEN MAKING WHEN THEY ARE THINKING ABOUT HOW TO BUILD A PERSONAL STYLE THAT REFLECTS THEIR VALUES?
Guilt! It isn't a mistake, per se, but a common feeling. Examining our habits can be tough, especially when it reveals some not so conscious behavior. If we don't have the proper support to guide our feelings, we can become really overwhelmed really fast and not make any changes.
2020 WAS SUCH A CHALLENGING YEAR, WHAT ARE YOU GLAD TO SAY GOODBYE TO AND WHAT'S SOMETHING FOR 2021 THAT YOU ARE WELCOMING IN?
Well, I don't think challenges magically go away with the coming of a new year but...am eager to see how sustainable fashion continues to evolve in spite of the pandemic.
Volatility sometimes breeds the most creativity - that's the artist in me speaking and trying to have hope!
Being a member of the plant-based community, I am looking forward to checking out all the new developments with natural materials. Have you heard about pineapple or mushroom leather? I'm into it.
WHERE CAN WE LISTEN TO THE CONSCIOUS CUT PODCAST AND WHAT'S THE NEXT EPISODE ABOUT?
The next episode is about how to start living sustainably. It's oh, so good. My friend Kimmy Klassen, a Sustainability Consultant, talks about her a-ha moments and struggles to stay connected and on course.