Pewa - The first thing you need to do if you want to change your life is to get to know yourself

Pewa makes it possible for more of us to consume consciously by hosting fabulous clothing exchanges in Shanghai and she's not stopping there. Read on to find out more about her story and thoughts on fashion and sustainability.

Where are you from?  Namibia

What brought you to Shanghai?  I started out studying in Hangzhou. I was actually about to go back home when I visited Shanghai. I liked it so much, I never left.  

What does sustainability mean to you?

Sustainability is hard to define, but to me it’s about being content with what I have, being able to sustain myself on things that are good for my mind and body. It’s about less consumption. I’m trying to learn about which materials are good for the environment. The exchanges were just about fashion to me at first, but then I met other people who have taught me about biodegradable materials, about sustainability. My biggest aim right now is to learn how to be more environmentally friendly. 

 What are you passionate about?

I can’t say that I’m passionate about one thing. Everything is going well with exchanges and school, I’m really happy about that and about being with my boyfriend.  So I guess I’m passionate about being happy, I really enjoy Shanghai and the experience.

 How do you consume consciously?

I recycle a lot. Everything I’ve got in my apartment is from garage sales and second-hand markets. I’ve stopped shopping for clothes, I just shop for shoes now. When I was at home (Namibia) I wasn’t a big shopper, but in the first few months living in China, I shopped a lot. After a while I realised I couldn’t do it anymore, I actually hate shopping. Consuming consciously is about shopping to me. What you buy is important. I’m not the best at distinguishing between what's good for the environment yet, but I’m learning.

When and why did you start doing clothing exchanges?

I started the clothing exchange in Hangzhou. Before moving to China I didn’t know what to expect, so I packed everything, I got a bit carried away. When I started, I just wanted to get rid of my things. I started posting clothes on my moments to find people who wanted my clothes. A lot of girls wanted to do an exchange, so I found a venue and started hosting exchanges. Girls from Shanghai asked me to host exchanges in Shanghai as well.

I like the exchanges because people are happy when other people take their things. That’s what I like most. It really helps girls clean out their closets. Once you do that you’ll realise you don’t need a lot of things. After doing the exchanges for a while I changed, I stopped shopping.

Is there anything that you’d like to change about the fashion industry?

I think that's a huge question for me. I want to get into the fashion world, but I don’t know what I’d want to change. It’s so difficult to make changes.  

What’s the easiest part of making conscious fashion choices?

I don’t have to worry about what’s in style or about having the perfect jeans for the season. It’s easier to make decisions about what I want to wear because of my capsule wardrobe. It’s also easier to go shopping because I know what I need. It’s easier and quicker to make decisions. I’m really into quality now. I don’t want to buy expensive things that just last 3 months. I buy something when I know it's good quality and I really want it. I try to shop for things that have actual sentimental value and there’s a lot of space in my house, it’s not cluttered.

What’s the hardest part of making conscious fashion choices? 

Sometimes I still want a certain handbag or something. At first, it was difficult not to go shopping, to not buy it all. Now, the most difficult part is distinguishing what’s really environmentally friendly and seeing the difference between what I want and need. If I want a more sustainable life I need to care about all of it. Once it becomes part of your way of life it becomes really easy. I don’t see the point in buying things I’ll only wear once anymore.

What are some practical changes anyone could make?

You really need to take everything out of your closet. You’ll need four boxes or bags. Put the things you need in the first box and the things you want in the second box. Put everything you wear once in a while in the third box and everything you never wear in the fourth box. Keep the stuff you need. Go through the second box and ask yourself if you need it or if it has sentimental value, do the same with the third box. Get rid of the fourth box.

I can’t tell people to stop shopping, but everything is so much easier when you know yourself when you know what you like. Then you know it’s not just the shop playing with your mind. The closet exchange is about knowing yourself, knowing if you're going to actually wear something. You have to ask yourself, do you actually need it and why do you want to have it.

How can people take part in clothing exchanges?

You can join a closet exchange WeChat group, but I think more people should host exchanges. That’s how we’re going to grow this community.

WeChat ID Pewa_Kaheka 

What are the biggest challenges when hosting exchanges?

We have difficulties with girls coming late and with dates sometimes. It’s difficult to please everyone, but I want everyone to have a good experience. Hosting the exchange, finding a venue and getting people to come is really easy right now. I’ve gotten to a point where people invite me to their locations. A lot of girls are taking part, but then again I’m okay with not growing too quickly. I want other people to host other exchanges so we’ll have a big community with different exchanges going on. I’m very happy with where the exchange is at right now.

If the whole world was listening, what would you say?

Know yourself. The first thing you need to do if you want to change your life or lifestyle is to get to know yourself. Know what you need and what you want. You have to be genuine and honest with yourself. Once you become more conscious of yourself, your mind and body and what’s around you, then it’ll help you make the right decision for yourself and the people around you.