Real Talk with Kelsey from Thread International 

Love your world! We’re so excited to partner with Thread™, a company that takes plastic waste from Haiti, Honduras and Taiwan and transforms it into recycled polyester. So far, our Play leggings made with Thread recycled yarns have helped divert 403,960.22 pounds of plastic waste from landfills and oceans (that’s the weight of 6,463,363.5 plastic bottles!) and generated $85,688.55 in revenue ​in the First Mile in Taiwan. We talked with Kelsey, Director of Sales at Thread, and found out a little more about Thread and the impact that just one pair of leggings can have. Read on for more!

Real Talk with Kelsey from Thread International 

Kelsey, Director of Sales at Thread

The Thread yarns in our Play leggings start as plastic waste in Taiwan. How does a plastic bottle become one of the leggings we love?

Great question. In my opinion, recycling is about as close as we get to magic. Your plastic starts out as discarded bottles in Taiwan. There are several thousand individuals around the country who pick up and collect these bottles. They sell this material to entrepreneurs who run “collection centers.” These centers sort and prepare the bottles for recycling facilities where they are washed and ground up into flake. That flake gets melted down into pellet and extruded into filament, which is then finished into yarn. That yarn gets knitted into fabric, and finally cut and sewn into your Play leggings.

The best part about this process, is that in addition to diverting plastic waste from landfill and oceans, our supply chains also support income opportunities and small businesses that support their communities. You can look great, and know that you’re having positive impact in the world when you wear these leggings.

Real Talk with Kelsey from Thread International 

Aerie Play Pocket & Cuff Legging, Made with Thread recycled polyester yarns

You focus on the importance of the “First Mile” of the supply chain. Can you tell us more about this? 

Absolutely. Recycling is still often an unregulated industry in many parts of the world. Especially in countries where there may not be a lot of waste management infrastructure, or municipal recycling. The First Mile refers to the individual people that pick up the plastic bottles that become Thread fabric. Our impact team works with these collectors to ensure that their work is dignified and safe and that they have the opportunity to grow sustainable collection businesses to support them and their families.

First Mile also refers to the traceability of our material. Recycled polyester is not a new material, but Thread is the only material that can tell you what country our recycled plastic was sourced from as well as the network of people picking it up. Knowing where your stuff comes from is important, because without this knowledge, you can’t be sure that your entire supply chain is responsible.

 

What advice do you have for someone trying to be more sustainable with their fashion choices? 

Start paying attention to the brands and material choices you are purchasing. If a brand is transparent and forthcoming with information about their supply chains, that is a good sign. If they make products using recycled polyester, organic cotton, hemp, or other sustainable materials that’s a great place to start. If they don’t use these materials, or you can’t find information about their supply chains, don’t be afraid to reach out to the brand and ask. If brands know sustainability is important to their customers, they will be more likely to make sustainable choices.

Learning how to repair your clothes, thrifting, second hand shopping, and clothing swaps with your friends are also great ways to keep your clothing circulating and useful and out of landfill. Don’t let perfect be the enemy of good – there is not such thing as a “perfect” material or fiber. Making more informed choices is a great start.DSC01279

 

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Real Talk with Sadie Strong 

She’s a veteran, she’s a mom, and she’s #AerieREAL! Sadie Strong has learned to embrace her body through all of its stages. Read on below to see how Sadie tries to pay it forward while keeping it #AerieREAL in her everyday life.

Real Talk with Sadie Strong Has being a mom affected how you feel about your body?

When I was pregnant I embraced my baby bump. I wore a bikini, showed it off with crop tops and everything. I thought it was the best body I had ever had. Honestly, in the back of my mind I was worried about what others were going to think of me and my post pregnancy body. “Was I going to bounce back?” “ What if I didn’t?” Now, being almost a year post birth I put all of those questions to bed. The body I have, my son loves to cuddle with and take naps on. If anything, being a mom has made me more comfortable with the appearance of my body because I know the amazing things it’s capable of doing.

What’s your advice for someone who seeks balance in their life?

I believe balance is like an internal scale, weighing the options on how you live your life.

When you put outside world opinions on one side of the scale instead of your own thoughts, opinions and needs, you have to try a lot harder to balance your scale. I believe you need to truly put your own happiness first to have balance in your life. It’s a lot easier to balance yourself and be happy when you are not trying to please strangers as well. Real Talk with Sadie Strong 

Big or small, how do you pay it forward?

I truly try and pay it forward as often as I can. Usually in small cute ways whether it’s for my loved ones or strangers. This is silly but often when I get coffee in a drive through I pay the persons behind me also just because I know it will make them smile. For my kids I like to leave surprise notes around their rooms, or in their backpacks at school to remind them how smart and amazing they are or send them little jokes. I love to give people a small moment of happiness because life isn’t always easy, but I believe a smile goes a long way and can get you through a day.

What makes you #AerieREAL?

I’m #AerieREAL because I  am my TRUE self and I choose to be me. Every curve, scar, smile, and feeling! I am enough just the way I am. I am a mom and disabled veteran, and being able to accept my body and myself  for who I am, allows me to live my best life and be Role Model for positivity and self love.

Want to learn more about our latest #AerieREAL photo shoot? Read about it here!

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Real Talk with Cassie Wegeng

Cassie is an animal trainer and caretaker turned non-profit world saver focused on leading a healthy lifestyle (and eating all the donuts along the way). She’s also one of our newest #AerieREAL faces! Read on to see what makes her #AerieREAL and how her time at the Aerie bra photoshoot encouraged her to be her best self.

CassieWegangWhat workout makes you feel REAL good?

I have been following the “Tone It Up” program for several years now, and I LOVE it!! Tone It Up is a combination of nutrition education and recipes, workouts and community. I’ve met some incredible, supportive women through the Tone It Up community who are like minded and keep me accountable! The workouts are a planned for you, can be done anywhere, and they’re a mix of anything and everything – HIIT, kickboxing, dance cardio, weights, yoga, even meditation. I cannot recommend it enough, as it literally changed my perspective on health and has been a major part of my life. I’m also a sucker for a good beach run.

Do you have any tips for staying motivated?

GREAT question – as this is different for everyone! Motivation will ebb and flow, and that’s ok! Fitness and nutrition is a life long journey, not a shortcut to quick results. Find something that works for YOU and makes you happy. What helps me stay motivated is the feeling I get after I workout. The more you do it, the easier it gets, and eventually it becomes FUN and your body will crave it. You will never, ever regret working out (even if it’s terribly difficult throughout!), and you’ll feel accomplished no matter what.

How has your active lifestyle impacted how you feel about your body?

Leading a healthy lifestyle has proven to me that my body is capable of so much, mentally and physically! A huge part of an active lifestyle to me is the mental component – finding the strength to push through challenges. Our bodies are so much stronger than our brain sometimes. Turning negative self talk around during a workout is a tool I’ve learned to utilize more in my daily life as well! When we treat ourselves and talk to ourselves with love, our bodies love us back and carry us through life’s ups and downs with strength and confidence.IMG_5675_f_1

Tell us your experience on the shoot!

Photoshoot day was quite literally the BEST day ever (ok, wedding steals first place, but you know what I mean). I never wanted it to end! There was so much love, laughter, music, dancing, amazing clothing, inspiring stories and conversation, and friendships made that will last a lifetime. I am so grateful to Aerie for the opportunity to share our stories, and I will forever cherish the memories made throughout this journey.

What makes you #AerieREAL?

I think being #AerieREAL means just being REAL! Social media these days makes it so easy to get wrapped up in trying to be “perfect”. I am so over society’s definition of perfection. I’m 100% trying to prove that perfection is being you through and through, because no one else on the planet can do that. I’m also a big proponent of living a healthy lifestyle and working hard to reach your goals. That’s when I feel my best, which allows me to be the best for those I love!

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3 Tips To Start Your Own Side Hustle

Hey Aerie girls, me again! It’s Jenna Kutcher over here waving at you in her yoga pants and hustling behind the keyboard, but that’s what life looks like these days — but it didn’t always look like this! Today? I get to serve the world as an #AerieREAL Role Model, through The Goal Digger Podcast, my online education, and the platforms I’ve built with encouraging messages, marketing know-how, and strategies that can help others get paid to do what they love! I used to dream that I’d wear power suits and have a corner office with windows but when I found myself in a stuffy windowless office at the age of 22 with a mountain of paperwork and lurking anxiety, I knew that the ladder climbing life wasn’t for me. I started to dream of ways I could escape the corporate hustle and when I dream, I don’t dream small. I should have known, the girl who would host lemonade stands on her country dirt road that saw maybe 10 cars a day would turn into an entrepreneur but I never thought that I could truly make a go at it…. the leap felt too big, too impossible for this Midwest girl who had landed what she thought was her “dream” job out of college.

3 Tips To Start Your Own Side Hustle

By chance, I stumbled upon a camera on Craigslist. It cost $300 and at the time, I was planning my wedding and knew I wanted to document some of the processes. It was my first “big” purchase I made with my corporate salary and I quickly fell in love with photography. Having never taken an art class, I found myself trying to learn all the funny dials and numbers and would wake up wanting to take pictures. I soon after started a blog and started to share my snapshots and what was going on in our lives as we got ready for our upcoming wedding, I shared my photos on Facebook, and soon I started to get people asking if I could take pictures of their kid or their cat or basically anything. I said “YES!” to everything and couldn’t believe someone would actually pay me to do what I loved, even if it was only $20!

I shortly after realized that my time was valuable and that there was true potential for me as a photographer. I set a goal of “retiring” from corporate America within one year’s time and I hustled…. I hustled hard. I hired a designer and got a logo made, I got asked to take pictures at my brother-in-law’s wedding in Jamaica and I went big! I didn’t want to throw away that chance so I studied wedding blogs and did the best I could. Within a year I had booked enough weddings to leave behind my salary and jump into a life of full-time entrepreneurship. Fast forward to 8 years later, I’m still an entrepreneur (though it looks drastically different than those early days!) and I’ve been able to build a multi-million dollar company from my small town in Minnesota.

So maybe you’re wondering, “Wait, how did she go from a $300 Craigslist camera to a 7-figure business?” Let me tell you: it was a lot of work, a lot of time, and a lot of passion. First things first, it all started with a side hustle. What is a side hustle? It’s not your primary income, often times it’s a passion project or an idea that you’re trying out or considering pursuing as a business. The beauty of a side hustle is that you don’t have the pressure of having to make big profits (which can quickly crush every ounce of creativity) but you can slowly focus on building it into whatever your vision is for it.

I’ve had a lot of side hustles over the years:

– Photography was my first side hustle when I was still working my corporate job!

– I started teaching online education as a side hustle to my booming wedding photography business.

– I started the Goal Digger Podcast as a side hustle when my education business was thriving!

All of these started out of pure passion where I took an idea, put some time into it and I was able to just test things out without the fear or the pressure of them having to be successful! So maybe you’re wondering, where do I begin? I’d challenge you to start with looking at the things that you’re passionate or curious about (no matter how obscure or random they may seem) and just pursue them in a focused way! What would it look like if you just worked on those passions a few hours every week for a month? You might discover you LOVE it or maybe a new idea will come to you!

Next? Focus on what you’re naturally good at. Too often, we’re so close to our genius spots that we don’t even realize that they don’t come naturally to others. What do people always ask you about? What advice do you find yourself giving over and over? What are you known for? These things can help you to determine a potential side hustle that could not only set you up to excel but also allow you to help others! Lastly, take your time. For me: I couldn’t just jump and hope the net would appear, I needed to make sure I had a plan that was sound and stable so that I wouldn’t totally fall flat on my face. There is absolutely no shame in having your side hustle be just that: a side hustle. When I was transitioning from my 9-5, I used every extra penny from that job to fund my dream and it was the best thing I did to set myself up for success.

So I want to know: what is your big, scary dream? If you could do anything in the world, what would it be? I’d love to read your comments below and be able to cheer you on! This entrepreneur life isn’t always glamorous, a lot of times it’s long days in my sweatpants behind a computer but I honestly wouldn’t change it for the world!

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Real Talk with Lilly Cepull

This #AerieREAL artist is all sunshine! Lilly Cepull gave us the scoop about her work and what being #AerieREAL means to her. Read on to see why Lilly was inspired to join our latest #AerieREAL bra photoshoot!

 

We love your designs! What inspires your creativity?

Ah, thank you so much!! I feel as if most of my creativity stems from everyday life around me. I get inspired anywhere, and I mean anywhere! I will be out to eat at a restaurant and love the font of the menus, take a pic, and try and draw the font by hand later (I am a complete lettering nerd, I know!!) Or love the way certain colors on buildings go together. I always try to view the world around me with a creative eye and it makes life even more magical. There really is so much beauty everywhere! That being said, I make sure to have my iPad pro with me at all times so that I can sketch an idea out or create a new color palette on the go.

Real Talk with Lilly Cepull

What’s your favorite media to create with? Why?

So my old self would respond with just the good ole pen and paper combo. But my new high tech self would have to say any digital media. I got my iPad pro this past March and it quickly changed the game for me. Although I still recommend to all letterers, and artists in general, that paper and pen (most people would say pencil but I really have the “just go for it” mentality,) is the best way to start. But eventually lugging around pens, sketchbooks, paints, and all the things to every local coffee shop got old. My iPad really allows me to not strain my arm muscles carrying so many supplies and makes creating digital artwork for clients one thousand times easier. Don’t get me wrong, I still do plenty of work on paper, chalkboards, canvases, jackets, etc. but digital work is my jam at the moment!

What made you want to join this #AerieREAL bra photoshoot?

OMG a million things! I have adored Aerie for as long as I can remember. But the main reason why is because growing up I never really saw petite gals modeling. Or REAL gals for that matter. Pictures were always retouched and made picture perfect. I would look at them and be so upset that I was short or that my skin broke out on the daily. I often felt that I was alone and that no other girls struggled with the problems I did. Well, news flash- we are all in this together!! So being a part of this campaign meant the absolute world to me. I want all girls to realize that you are an absolute babe just the way you are! No retouching necessary.

What makes you #AerieREAL?

I am #AerieREAL because I am not afraid to accept myself exactly the way I am. I realize it is so challenging to be a girl nowadays. Everywhere we look we see retouched photos of societies example of the “perfect woman” and we instantly compare ourselves. The never ending cycle of comparing your body or life to models on billboards, girls on Instagram, or the random gals at the grocery store is exhausting. I have been there and done that. But you have to realize that your “flaws” make you, YOU! They tell your story and represent all you’ve been through and await all that is left to come. All of this being said, it is so important to be yourself and never dare apologize for it. Wear no makeup for the Instagram picture- you’re so dang beautiful without it. Sing and dance as much as you want- life is more fun that way. Wear your sweatpants out to go get tacos- because guess what? Ya look GOOD! So I am #AerieREAL because I am unapologetically myself no matter the time or place. There is only one me and there is only one you. So let’s show the world who we REALLY are by keeping it real.

Want to learn more about our newest #AerieREAL photo shoot? Read about it here!

 

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Real Talk With Danielle Candray

Danielle is an advocate and mentor for those with alopecia, a condition in which hair is lost from some or all areas of the body. She’s also a camp counselor with the National Alopecia Areata Foundation and one of the stars of our latest #AerieREAL bra photoshoot. Read on to see how the NAAF has impacted Danielle’s life and what makes her #AerieREAL!

Real Talk With Danielle Candrey

How has alopecia impacted your life?

I’ve had Alopecia since I was 2 and a half and I’m now 19 years old. Growing up with it was extremely difficult for me because kids made fun of me for years. I didn’t know anyone who had Alopecia so that caused me to feel isolated.When I was about 14, I attended an Alopecia conference hosted by the National Alopecia Areata Foundation (NAAF) and it changed my life. I met amazing people who were just like me and the conference helped me get the courage to wear my wig less. I’ve gone to the conference every year since, so about six years and I have completely transformed. I made alopecia become something positive that could benefit me. I’ve met the most amazing people through alopecia and I have been given the opportunity to inspire other alopecians to embrace/accept themselves which is incredibly rewarding.

What would you like to share with those who are not familiar with alopecia? 

For those who are not familiar with alopecia, we are not sick. Most people assume that we are very sick and feel the need to treat us differently. Alopecia is not life threatening but is life altering. Alopecia is an auto-immune disease that causes the immune system to attack our hair follicles thus causing hair loss. There are different types of alopecia, I have alopecia areata which means my hair grows/falls out in patches. If you see someone who you think might have Alopecia, try not to stare too much, it makes some of us a bit uncomfortable. Everyone deals with their alopecia differently. Some are very open about it and like to talk about it like myself but some are still shy about it and feel embarrassed when asked questions. My tip for when meeting someone new who has alopecia would be to wait to ask questions until they mention their aloepcia themselves!Real Talk With Danielle Candrey

What’s one of your proudest moments?  

My proudest moment just happened in late June! I was working as a kid’s camp counselor for the NAAF Conference. My group started out with about 4 teenage girl campers but by the end of the conference, I ended up with 12 girls. I guess our table was the popular table! Throughout the conference, I talked to some of the girls and gave them advice, shared my experiences with alopecia, and even encouraged a few off them to take off their wig/hat! On the last day of the conference I was thanked by many of the girls’ parents because I helped their daughters come out of their shells and the girls were grateful that I was their camp counselor. Although I was there to make the conference a great experience for them, I believe they made my experience unforgettable and I thank them for that. So yeah, this past NAAF conference as a camp counselor was my proudest moment!

What makes you #AerieREAL?

I’m #AerieREAL because I’m not letting my alopecia or weight prevent me from doing the things I love!

The beauty about #AerieREAL is that it doesn’t mean we are “perfect” or love every inch of ourselves every day. To me, it means that it’s okay to have bad days because that’s what makes us human and real. As long as we remember to accept ourselves the way we are and treat our bodies with respect, then we can all be #AerieREAL.

 

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