Sustainable and toxin-free living

Sustainable and toxin-free living

How I’m Livin’: Monica of Ethical Lingerie Brand Uye Surana


In our How I’m Livin’ series, we ask chic people to reveal their favorite haunts and fashion so you can steal some of their sustainable style. 

Monica Wesley is the beautiful mind behind Uye Surana lingerie, delicate underthings whose style falls right in between girly and cool. Her pieces are crafted in NYC from airy silks, mesh, and lace. Many of her pieces use hand-dyed silk techniques. The result is modern yet flattering, suitable for almost any girl and her fashion whims.

Originally from Chicago, she’s a graduate of the Parsons School of Design. You might have seen her pretty things in Lucky Magazine, which describes Uye Surana as a specialist of “romantic-meets-minimalist lingerie,” or worn by Jemima Kirke (the cool, free-spirited one) on Girls.

What’s your favorite NYC restaurant?

I love food, so I’m going to give you three. Saxon & Parole, Hells Kitchen Restaurant, and Zoma.

Your fave bar?

It’s not exactly a bar, but I’m obsessed with the Old Fashioned’s at Nizza.

Describe your perfect Sunday.

Sleeping all day long, eating too much brunch and drinking too much coffee. Hopefully it’s nice out, so I can walk a bit of it off!

Uye Surana lingerie // made in NYC // #ethical #madeinNY
Ava Rose Satin Strap Bra – White/Soft Pink & Triangle High-Waist Panty – White Rose/Soft Pink


What’s your favorite place to shop in the city?

There are some nice places near my studio. I enjoy looking at vintage pieces from What Goes Around Comes Around. They also have an in-house line where I bought a men’s jacket.

Your favorite NYC-made brand? (Besides yourself, of course!)

I have been crushing on Kordal for some time, but haven’t bought anything … yet. I think I will wait until she has more Spring/Summer designs. She had a really stunning drop-stitch sweater last summer that I was definitely eyeing.

I also love Mociun. My fiance got my engagement ring from her and it’s so unique and beautiful. We did custom and it really made the ring and experience so special.

Do you vintage shop? Where do you go?

I mainly vintage shop during my trips home to visit family in Chicago and St. Louis. I’m attracted to quality materials, like (guilty pleasure) but I love the look and feel of fur, so to ease my addiction I only buy vintage fur.

In the city, I vintage shop at Junk Brooklyn, where I like to buy odds and ends for my home (which they have a ton of) especially containers for display and storing items. I love milk glass, 1950’s china, and hand-blown glass for its imperfections.

Monica of Uye Surana looks through lingerieWhat’s your favorite non-toxic beauty product?

For skin, I like using essential oils like jojoba and shea butter. I’m also really into my shampoo because it smells nice, but not too overwhelming. It’s EO Pure Performance Botanical Haircare in Chamomile.

You have three days free to get the heck out of the city. Where do you go?

A friend of mine has a family vacation home in Little Compton, Rhode Island. Her family built their home back in the early 1900s and the exterior, floors, and interior all pretty much all original! During the day we pack up and sneak into the private beach nearby, winding through bushes and neighbors’ backyards before we arrive. I like to lay on the beach (not in direct sunlight :), walk in the wet sand, and collect small shells and stones, some of which decorate the shelves in my studio.

After the beach, to pass the time we go to the downtown grocery store that has tons of locally sourced snacks. We also go to pizza place to order dinner, and walk around a cemetery to look at all the old stone markers. In the evening, we hang out back at the house, enjoy pizza, the fireplace, games, and more.

You can only see one musical artist perform this year–who do you choose?

Bjork. I saw her perform her Biophilia album a few years ago. Her performances are amazing. She had a choir of women singing and dancing with her all night long. I would love to see her again and again, because for every album she has an entirely different theme, which she plays out on stage.

How has living sustainably change your life for the better?

I think it’s just a rewarding experience to become more conscious of your environmental impact. I think it helps you organize your thoughts and make more considered, thoughtful decisions overall, and to take more small moments out of your life to do so.

What’s your biggest, unsustainable bad habit?

Embarrassing, but I’d have to say ordering home and studio supplies from Amazon. I try to group them as best as I can and buy in bulk, It’s kind of a trade-off of living without a car – otherwise, I’d be carrying around even more stuff all the time!

Do you ever lecture your friends on their non-green choices?

No, I don’t think that guilting people is the most effective way to get across to them. I also feel like we all need to be honest about being works-in-progress, and I don’t think lecturing others allows you to do that.

What do you find most challenging about living sustainably?

I think it’s important to not be too harsh on yourself for how you match up to your own standards and ideals of sustainability. I have areas where I am sustainable and others where I fall short at times, which we all do. It’s difficult, but not being too hard on myself on this allows me to move forward and make better choices in the future and feel good about the positive changes I’ve already made.

When it’s yellow, do you let it mellow?

No. I could elaborate, but I don’t want to!

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