An incredible insight into the life of fashion blogger, Instagrammer & Digital Content Creator Ayona Sur, better know to us, in the world of social media, as @her_style_saga. Discussing sustainable style, planet earth and exactly how each of us can do our bit, Ayona shares with us the importance of slow living and of the incredible journey she took to find purpose through fashion.
PHOTOGRAPHY BY @HER_STYLE_SAGA
DATE 20TH APRIL 2021
It only takes a second of browsing her Instagram account to fall head over heels in love with Ayona’s sense of style. From sophisticated tailored neutrals to opulent boho ruffles, there isn’t a colour, print or fit that she can’t pull of; especially given her effortless ability to style any outfit with plenty of added oomph. But it’s through Ayona’s captions and stories you get to know the incredible soul behind the captivating shoots. I’m honoured, to say the least, to feature her on my blog today and its easy to see why upon reading the honest, open and inspiring story of her background and fashion choices.
Please tell me a little bit about you and your background.
I am a 32-year-old fashion & lifestyle blogger and digital content creator. I live in Melbourne with my husband and adorable Cavoodle pup Romi. I am wickedly fascinated by all things “good” fashion, mindful lifestyle and earthy interiors. Even though I take a lot of pride in the digital space that I have carved for myself, I am actually a full-time office-going, seminar-attending, deadline-meeting project officer working for the State Government of Victoria within the department of Energy. I had studied to be an environmentalist and biochemist and it’s fascinating to see how my interests and passions have evolved through time. I moved to Australia from New Delhi when I was 18, to the small, glorious Australian outback – Mount Isa, in Queensland. My first thought on landing was – I am on Mars! It was so red everywhere! My parents are Bengalis and hail from the beautiful eastern part of India, West Bengal. I also chose to get married here last year to be closer to home and my grandmother, and return to my roots.
What inspired you to become a digital creator?
There was a time in my life between 2013 and 2016, when I was looking for a steady job and wasn’t making it anywhere with my interviews and had to contract a lot. The small-time roles I landed were not fulfilling and I was forced to do them to pay my bills. This had me spiralling in depression with a heady sense of helplessness. The only thing I did to help me feel sane was fashion, and posting about it on Instagram. I wasn’t actively posting and neither did I know how to purposefully post to get likes and comments; I just did it because it brought me an immense sense of happiness, belonging and peace. I had a handful of followers – mainly friends and friends of friends – who really enjoyed what I put out. One day however, my sister, who happens to be a professional photographer, needed my help with her university project and she dolled me up, made me stand next to my neighbour’s rundown car and took some shots. She just needed 1 out of the 100 she had taken and asked me to put the rest up on a blog. I didn’t know what a blog was or how to create a website even! Cut to the chase I posted, and till today my first blog post has the largest amount of views than any of my other blog posts that followed! It was an instant success, people loved it. I was inspired and ecstatic and overwhelmed, I suddenly felt I had a purpose. Properly posting and monetizing on Instagram came much later, but I always think of myself as a blogger first.
“My parents are Bengalis and hail from the beautiful eastern part of India, West bengal. I also chose to get married here last year to be closer to home and my grandmother, and return to my roots.”
What do you enjoy most about creating content?
I love the hustle! I love being my own boss and more than anything, I love experimenting with clothes and trying out new trends. I love the creative freedom content creation gives you; you can be anybody, you can achieve anything – the sky is your limit! I truly truly enjoy the process of self-exploration and pushing the envelope a bit further each time; challenging myself to do better, get craftier and share my knowledge of exploring sustainable fashion.
How would you best describe your style?
My style has greatly evolved through the years. I would describe it as part masculine, part edgy and part clean chic. It largely depends on my mood really. But it has to be chic, basic but it should leave an astounding impact if that makes sense!
What is sustainability and why is it so important to you
Very simply, sustainability is the ability to meet our own needs without compromising the ability of future generations and non-human life force to meet their own needs. And, very consciously, not be an active participant in the race to deplete all of Earth’s natural resources for the selfish and relentless human material consumption. The environmentalist in me who loves fashion cannot stand for the wasteful consumption of fast fashion, where there is no accountability and liability to one’s action. Fashion is one of the major contributors to climate change; the amount of clothes turning in the landfill per hour is abominable! Most people are not aware – and the companies don’t want you to be – of the huge cost fashion production creates on our home – Planet Earth. The price we pay for a $8 denim shirt involves hours of child labour, unsanitary work conditions in third world countries, underpaid workers and so many other human rights violations. What we put on bodies has a cost, you can choose to be a more mindful consumer; buy from local businesses who manufacture locally that have a sustainability index. Keep these companies accountable and invest in pieces that are mindfully sourced, that you genuinely love.
THE FREEDOM WITHIN FASHION
“I love being my own boss and more than anything, I love experimenting with clothes and trying out new trends. I love the creative freedom content creation gives you; you can be anybody, you can achieve anything – the sky is your limit!”
THE TRUE COST OF CLOTHING
“The environmentalist in me who loves fashion cannot stand for the wasteful consumption of fast fashion, where there is no accountability and liability to one’s action. Fashion is one of the major contributors to climate change – the amount of clothes turning in the landfill per hour is abominable!”
What challenges do you find yourself having to overcome when trying to live and shop more sustainably?
Oh so many! I am an active and over-zealous online shopper. I had to mindfully and consciously stop shopping from fast fashion websites and stores and then nag my friends and family to stop doing the same too (they are not happy participants, most times). This did not happen overnight; I had to give up my love of buying 6 shirts under $100 from the likes of Boohoo and ASOS to pay a much much higher price, than I would admittedly like, for a sustainable pair of shoes and jeans. Sometimes it feels like an effort, fast fashion is like fast food – readily available and cheap with such impressive marketing – it’s hard not to get sucked in!
How can we better educate ourselves in sustainability?
There is an abundance of information out there, it only takes a willing heart to make that change for the better – and time has never been more pressing to make that change. A good place to start would be watch this documentary that moved me to my core and everyone who loves fashion must see it; The True Cost: Who Pays the Real Price for YOU Clothes
Is there any advice you can give your average, fashion-loving, high-street shopper like me on how to shop more sustainably while still maintaining my personal style?
The biggest advice I can give anyone, that I gave myself before I began my sustainable journey, is to not be a frivolous shopper – invest in pieces that you know have a clear product life cycle from seed to store and see to it that the company you buy from is ethical or at least has an ethical line. Do your research, read about the company you are buying from (the little “About us” section is an eye opener, which no one really reads and I highly encourage you to!) Buy from local businesses. And if you love designer items then thrift handbags and leather goods wherever you can. Apart from fashion, shop from ethical jewellery and makeup brands – read their ethical standards, see where the material comes from. None of this should compromise on your personal style; if anything, it will evolve your unique sense of style because what you are wearing, no-one else is! It’s unique and curated and tailored for you with love and in harmony with the planet. What else do we need as fashion lovers?