Interview with Vegan Ballerina Agnes Muljadi

Hello all, my name is Lolo Santosa, it’s been an honor for me to run the blog site of Fair Trade Fashion Show.  Two years ago I was looking for an influencer to work with when I started my company Toko-Toko and found @artsyagnes on Instagram.  At the time Toko-Toko was just another online company, bringing goods from Indonesia that I loved and found at local markets in Bali and Jakarta.  Agnes was already a well-known influencer with followers (at the time) of about 187K.  

I reached out to her and she graciously let me know that she can only work with brands that are Sustainable, Fair Trade and most importantly: Vegan. The thing with Agnes is this; she is very honest and very inspiring.  We didn’t get to work together on my first reach out, not until exactly one year later after we changed the values of our company.  My husband and I met with Agnes at her favorite restaurant Au Lac DTLA before we worked with her, and we were really blown away by how friendly and kind Agnes was.  Being with her is being in positivity and a room of possibilities.  We did a whole campaign with Agnes to launch our Toko-Toko 2.0, I was so inspired by Agnes that I became vegan and never looked back. 

Photographer: @wanderlustcreatives , MUA: @florence.meredith

Photographer: @wanderlustcreatives , MUA: @florence.meredith

Today, @artsyagnes has an Instagram following of 551K and her mission is the same: to share and inspire others with her vegan, fair trade and sustainable lifestyle.  A few months ago, I shared one of my chats with Agnes with readers in our old hometown, Jakarta, Indonesia of Agnes’ vegan lifestyle and fashion.  The following article which I am now sharing with you was published by Dewi Fashion Magazine in Jakarta in the Indonesian language. 

Agnes Muljadi became vegan 3,5 years ago after having to deal with a health issue.  “Not long after that, I met Sica Schmitz, the founder of Fair Trade Fashion Show.  From her, I learned the term ‘Sustainable and Fair Trade Fashion’.  I remember I was carrying my favorite purse at the time, and it was leather.  Sica asked me if I knew that my purse is not environmentally friendly?”

Agnes & Sica on a Fair Trade Fashion project. Photo from Bead & Reel  blog

Agnes & Sica on a Fair Trade Fashion project. Photo from Bead & Reel blog

After this meeting, Agnes decided to conduct a thorough research of Sustainable and Fair Trade Fashion.  She learned of the negative impacts leather has on the environment, the animal cruelty caused by it and the severe damages caused by chemicals used during the drying process which completely destroy rivers and oceans.   Agnes took on the first step of her Sustainable lifestyle:  she completely cleaned up her closet from anything that contains animal products in it.   “Within one week I donated 20 giant bags filled with clothes, shoes, purses, jewelry and accessories containing leather, silk, fur or wool.”  She also replaced everything she wears and uses to items that are fairly produced and traded.

Agnes with  Tulisan  bag carried by  Toko-Toko

Agnes with Tulisan bag carried by Toko-Toko

“I think if we want to apply the concept of Fair Trade Fashion in our daily life, we must first remember that the main goal is Ethical Fashion, where items are produced ethically.  We must start with ourselves, making decisions about items we use, eat and wear every day.”  She explained. 

A year after she cleaned up her closet, Agnes came across the concept of The Zen Wardrobe.  “I live with a closet in which the total items I own is no more than 30 pieces: clothes, shoes, purses and jewelry pieces included.”  Agnes said she used to be very consumptive, “In the past, if I see anything I like I’d buy it without thinking twice.  But now, I ask myself will I wear this item 100 times or more?  If the answer is no, then I don’t purchase it.” She felt applying the Zen Wardrobe actually grows her creativity.  “I used to spend so much time making decisions of what to wear.  Sometimes I felt confused or even slightly stressed out from having too many choices, but with a minimal wardrobe I became more creative in mixing pairs to create different looks for different occasions.”

Agnes in  Sav Lavin  dress, purse by  Byo  Indonesia

Agnes in Sav Lavin dress, purse by Byo Indonesia

Sustainable and Fair Trade Fashion are becoming a lifestyle chosen by many in the United States.  “We each can make a difference to create a better world.  I’m optimistic more people will care.”  Agnes said and with that, she hugged me goodbye as we left Au Lac restaurant.  Another evening well spent with delicious vegan food and another inspiring conversation.  Thank you, Agnes!




Lolo Santosa