“I don’t know if I would use the word traditionally sustainable,” Pamela Love tells me. “It can mean so many things.”
She then goes on to list all the ways in which her mystical, bohemian, Southwestern jewelry collection is made consciously. It’s produced domestically whenever possible in the Chelsea neighborhood of Manhattan and in Los Angeles. “When we don’t produce domestically, we make sure our partners are ones we really love who are creating solid work environments for their employees,” she says. “People who are the best at what they do and are keeping traditions alive in different parts of the world.” Love and her employees visit these manufactures to verify. “That’s the only way to do it,” she says. Love has worked with women’s cooperatives in Afghanistan and Thailand, and recently launched a project with Mercado Global. Love’s production facility and offices in NYC operates on wind power. They use recycled metals and gemstones whenever possible. When they get new gemstones, they are domestically and/or ethically mined.
Beyond that, she prefers to work with recycled metals, but is working on an initiative to educate jewelry designers about the mercury used in the mining process. She’s visited gold mines in South America, and has worked with governments like Suriname to educate small-scale miners on how to responsibly use mercury without releasing it into the environment, which sometimes can be a bare mountain, but other times can be in the Amazon, where it could poison yet-undiscovered species. “The best thing to do would be to just leave it in the earth,” she says. “If we’re going to take it out, we need to make sure we’re not putting poison back into the earth when we do it.”
Similarly, Pamela knows that the most sustainable thing would be to never produce anything, but we all know the likelihood of ceasing the production of jewelry. “This is what I love to do; this is how I express myself,” she says. “We want to provide alternatives to what is out there in the market.”
But Pamela Love isn’t just an alternative, it’s practically a basic for the gypset, a favorite of fashion editors, de rigeur for the kind of creative and powerful woman who gets photographed in her Brooklyn brownstone for a profile in whatever your favorite fashion magazine is. She’s a two-time CFDA winner – once for the Lexus eco-fashion challenge and the other for accessories. And she rolls with a high-profile crew that includes my personal favorite Melissa Joy Manning, plus Rebecca Minkoff, Jemima Kirk, and Mara Hoffman. One can imagine them all drinking organic pisco sours and reading each other’s tarot cards in a yet-undiscovered artist’s retreat in Mexico.
That’s why I’m so thrilled to feature her in my How I’m Livin’ series. Girl is definitely gonna know the coolest places in New York City to hang. Maybe you can “accidentally” run into her and casually ask her to be your friend?
What neighborhood do you live in?
How would you describe your style?
Eclectic, and quirky, a little bit tomboy and a little bit girly at the same time.
What’s your favorite NYC restaurant?
I love Little Dokebi. It’s a half block from my house. Before they opened in Greenpoint, they had a location in Williamsburg that I had been going to for 10 years. I’m a big fan of Korean food, but I’m also a vegetarian, and it’s hard to get Korean that is vegetarian friendly in Koreatown. My husband, who is vegan, can also find things there.
Your fave bar?
Nights and Weekends. They have the best drinks, best snacks, I love the way the place is decorated. Everything about it is great.
Getting up and going boxing, which is my favorite kind of exercise. Getting brunch with a friend. I really like this place 12 Chairs in Williamsburg – delicious – or Mogador. And then maybe going shopping. Then going to the movies with my husband, preferably at Nitehawk.
What’s your favorite place to shop in the city?
Where do you do your grocery shopping in the city?
I usually go to the Met, and we have a farmer’s market right by our house, so I go there a lot. It runs all year round. When it’s cold outside it goes inside the church.
What’s your favorite non-toxic beauty product?
I love a skincare line called Just Be. It’s made by my friend Negin. She does a chai body scrub, she does a face wash that’s a powder you wet and scrub your face with. We have a tea together called Love Potion that we sell on my website and her website, it’s a rose tea. You have to steep it for 12 hours to get the medicinal effects of the tea, and most people don’t want to do that. But it tastes good after 10 minutes of steeping, too.
What is your favorite designer or label?
You have one day to get out of the city; where do you go?
Upstate. My husband and I love going to Dia:Beacon and Storm King.
(Here’s EcoCult’s guide to Beacon.)
How has living sustainably changed your life for the better?
It definitely saves us money. We try not to produce a lot of garbage (we tried to do zero waste but that didn’t work out – it was just too difficult) so we buy a lot of bulk. We focus on a lot of grains and wheat-free pastas and things like that. We have a whole ritual, we bring our own tote bags. We get the biodegradable cellulose bulk bags. At the farmer’s market you can get vegetables and just put them in your tote bag. It’s always better to not produce waste than create waste, both for the world but also weirdly for your budget. It shouldn’t just be about yourself… but it also happens to be better for yourself, especially the eating and nutritional portion.It’s not really about changing your life for the better but changing everyone’s life for the better.
What’s the sustainable habit you’re most proud of?
I’ve switched everything in my life to green energy: my business, my home, my mom’s home. And motivating others to do the same, I’m really proud of that. Making sustainable fashion choices is really important to me. I don’t like to buy new things unless I think the brand is doing things right, and I like to buy vintage as much as possible. Oh, and doing everything I can to create local jobs.
What’s your biggest, unsustainable bad habit?
I take cabs a lot, and I shouldn’t.
Do you try to convince your friends to live more sustainably? How?
Yes, but more than anything I try to convince my friends who have labels to run their lines more sustainably. Most of my close circles of friends are pretty conscious, and in some cases more sustainable than we are, and I try to take inspiration from them. I do have some friends, especially in the industry, that I like to try to influence them to make their business more sustainable
What do you find most challenging about living sustainably?
All of it. There’s a lot of pleasures that become tougher. I love a good bubble bath; it’s how I relax and unwind, and you have to be conscious of how much water you’re wasting. It’s just more thinking. It’s another level of awareness that can be challenging. Especially if you’re in New York and running a business and thinking of a million things all the time.