Sustainable lifestyle influencer Jazmine Rogers started 2020 with around 5,000 followers on Instagram. Today, she has more than 34,000. “I’m happy to connect with a community of like-minded people,” she tells Refinery29 from her home in San Diego. Rogers, who is half-Black and half-Mexican, uses her platform to discuss issues including race and sustainability. While she’s been using her colorful and informative feed to offer resources and tips for years, Rogers says it really feels like people are now listening to what she has to say.
In 2015, Rogers started her blog, That Curly Top, after she joined an anti-human trafficking club in college and learned about the effects of fashion labor trafficking in developing nations where exploitative working conditions and minimal pay are the standard. She documented her experience with quitting fast fashion and dabbled in other forms of sustainable living like reducing her plastic usage and using naturally-made products. That same year, Rogers launched @thatcurlytop on Instagram, which has since replaced her blog. She knows sustainability can be a broad and vague topic — “I love being able to take complex ideas and make it fun and accessible to other people, because [sustainability is] overwhelming” — so Rogers is approaching it from a specific angle: the intersection of sustainability and race. “I’ve leaned towards talking about racial issues and environmental inequities because it’s intertwined with who I am and my communities,” she explains.
The damaging effects of fast fashion became a global lightning rod following the 2013 Rana Plaza factory collapse in Bangladesh. Since then, the fashion industry has been trying to rebuild itself with a sustainable focus. “Ethical” and “sustainable,” especially trendy among millennials and Gen-Z on social media, quickly became buzzwords, but it has been hard for non-white voices and brands to be recognized as part of the conversation.
Up until a few months ago, it took a deep search to find one influencer of color in the sustainability community, yet finding a white influencer was a scroll away. In the wake of George Floyd’s death at the hands of Minneapolis police and the civil rights protests that followed, sustainability influencers of color, like Rogers, have received increased online attention. With the urgency of racial injustice consuming social media, people looked for leading BIPOC voices in different spaces to help inform — and change — perspectives. The sustainability movement was part of the groundswell.
When Aditi Mayer learned about the Rana Plaza disaster, she was taken aback by the grand scale of worker mistreatment in countries like Bangladesh and India. “I started understanding fashion from the politics of labor and the disproportionate impact on people of color globally,” Mayer, who identifies as South Asian, tells Refinery29. Mayer started her blog, ADIMAY, sharing her thoughts on who wasn’t represented in the fashion industry and putting people of color at the forefront of her work. “My vantage points became intersectionality and inclusivity,” the L.A.-based sustainable fashion blogger, photojournalist, and labor rights activist says.