Meet Arti Jalan
Founder of Forage + Sustain
Tell us a bit about yourself?
I’m the founder of Forage and Sustain, which is a platform dedicated to sustainable and conscious living. I’ve been all around the globe in terms of work (literally and figuratively), and I’m so grateful to be able to be doing Forage full time now! It started off as just a blog and IG account, but it’s grown into a thriving community of fellow conscious beings.
Can you tell us about forage and sustain, and how you came about starting this company?
The idea for F&S came about quite organically, and it was around the time where I felt like I was at a crossroads with my work. At the time (2017), I was freelance writing full time, as well as running an Etsy shop. I was feeling a bit stuck, and like I wanted to do something bigger, with more impact. The state of the environment has always bothered me, as well as poor ethics in consumerism. Forage and Sustain was born out of a desire to educate others and to lean into a more conscious way of life for myself. Since then it’s grown so much, and aside from blogs and the info I share on IG, I’ve added a marketplace to my website where consumers can shop my personal faves from brands whose values align with my own. We also host in-person workshops and I’m hoping I’ll be able to get back into that this year!
How do you go about finding new sustainable and ethical brands for your marketplace? can you share your process?
I’m very picky! The marketplace is a highly curated selection of my top picks, and this is because I want to keep it small and manageable, as well as not overwhelm consumers with options (in what is already an incredibly overwhelming space to try and navigate). Most of the brands are companies I’ve worked with in the past or that I have used personally, as I like to think of the marketplace as a personal list of recommendations. I have very high standards when it comes to checking the boxes of sustainability, ethics, and impact, as we can’t be wary enough of greenwashing. The brands that I choose are not only killing it in the sustainability realm, but they’ve consciously thought of almost all aspects of their supply chain. I also place high importance on aesthetics! I think there’s a bit of a misconception that sustainable products aren’t as appealing or aesthetically beautiful, so when I find a brand that is as beautiful as they are conscious, it’s a go!
“Take stock of your current lifestyle and see where you can make manageable changes that feel good and not overwhelming. ”
What does a typical day look like for you?
I find that my days aren’t always the same, which is fun and keeps things interesting! But typically, I start off with a cup of a warm nettle leaf infusion and some journaling. I also always do a crossword to get the day started :) Then it’s emails, zoom calls, posting to IG, and working on whatever task I have to complete for the day/week. Sometimes that’s adding brands to my shop, writing a blog post, managing brand partnerships, and planning for new launches!
What is one of the biggest struggles you have encountered, either personally or for work?
It can be challenging being a solopreneur, and that too, a business owner whose work is so in line with what they love! While this is definitely a great thing, it often means I work a lot and struggle to maintain work/life balance. I’ve committed to bringing in more time for rest and for activities/interests outside of work this year so that I can bring balance in and not tip into overwhelm!
How has Covid-19 impacted you? what are you doing to overcome these challenges?
I’m so fortunate to have had an online business this year, which was able to still thrive despite the circumstances. I had my best year yet in terms of numbers, so I can’t really complain, especially when so many small businesses were/are struggling to stay afloat. That being said, I’d say my biggest challenge this year was not being able to host in-person workshops. I had at least 4 big ones planned, and all of them followed a unique theme, educational thread, and hands-on activities. In 2019 we had a natural dyeing workshop, and it was one of the most beautiful experiences, not to mention one of my most favourite days ever! So while I couldn’t host experiences like that during the pandemic, I focused on supporting small businesses as much as possible, and I did that through the launch of my marketplace as well as my annual holiday gift guide. Fingers crossed in-person events will resume this year!
Ten and Co x Forage & Sustain Cloth
What advice would you give people who are trying to live a more conscious lifestyle? where should they start?
I always say to start small! It can be really daunting to try and do it all at once, and it’s a quick way to burn out. Take stock of your current lifestyle and see where you can make manageable changes that feel good and not overwhelming. If it’s easier, go room by room in your home and assess - maybe you can switch out your plastic toothbrushes to bamboo, or maybe opt for a reusable sponge cloth instead of paper towel. Once we begin to change things slowly and in a way that isn’t overwhelming, we inadvertently begin to see things differently and begin to make more conscious choices when we shop/go about our daily lives. I’d also suggest training your mind to think beyond just the product or thing in front of you. When you consume, always think about who made the product, where it’s coming from in the world, how it got to you, what materials it’s made of, and where it’ll go when you’re done with it. Thinking about our items outside of our immediate use is so important in connecting the dots and making better choices!
Do you have any big plans over the next few months (or year)?
I do! I won’t reveal too much just yet, but I am looking to go bigger than just the influencer/blogger route I’ve been on. I’m going to be launching a type of service for small businesses, and that’s all I’ll say for now ;)
“Do the best you can until you know better.
Then when you know better, do better.“
- Arti’s favourite quote by Maya Angelou -
If you could leave us with one message today, what would it be?
I recently read (and posted) a very fitting quote from Maya Angelou that helps shape how we should be thinking about our actions:
“Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.”
Where can we find you (social media)?
On IG: @forageandsustain
On Pinterest: @foragesustain
And on FB: Forage and Sustain