eco boutique: by the sea


i hear an unfamiliar sound in the background. "what's that?" i ask. "wild chickens," comes the answer.

when kathryn letson, founder of eco lifestyle brand by the sea, decided she wanted to see change in her life, she really meant it. over ten years ago she made a decision, and like a tide washing over her life, every aspect would be affected, her entire life eventually transformed.

this new life would prove to be a slower life, a greener life, and a happier life.

sometimes we are catapulted onto a new path suddenly, other times change happens over a life span, and sometimes life puts everything into a blender for us, and we have to decide which direction this new mix of events is pointing us towards. for me, the collusion of slow fashion + plant-based eating that set me on the path to wellness; for kathryn, it was a decision to leave a lucrative career in new york within the fast-fashion industry, to embrace a new life in a new locale, and to build a sustainable company from the ground up.

this brand is a design + aesthetic experience awaiting your participation. this is by the sea

"there are places that you're called to," kathryn is telling me from her home in hawaii.

i couldn't agree more.


island living suits kathryn. she was only eleven when she first experienced the lush landscape of hawaii with her grandmother, but the memory stayed with her. later in life, when contemplating a move, it seemed like the perfect milieu to start anew. it's this backdrop that influences her relaxed, feminine line of fair trade, handmade apparel + home goods for free spirits. 

this summer while i was road tripping through france, i had one thought on repeat in my mind: i'd love a white, billowy dress for long days of exploring under the sun, a crisp little number for sandy days at the beach or park days with friends.

my mind had conceived of an ethereal white dress made of organic cotton*, made by happy hands. it's exactly at this time that an unexpected connection occurred with by the sea, a line of beautiful, ethically-produced home goods and a gorgeous selection of organic cotton summer dresses including a flowing, ivory frock, exactly like the one i imagined: a handcrafted marvel.

when my inner self is in alignment, then my outer world starts to align, too.

from the beginning, kathryn aspired to be more than a brand offering beautiful apparel; she wanted to create a company in which the process of making clothing + textiles was healthy for everyone involved. she shares, "when my inner self is in alignment, then my outer world starts to align, too."

kathryn follows the tenets of sacred commerce, an idea that embraces choice + responsibility at its core and a belief that every person is valued throughout the supply chain. "everyone has a job, and that job is important. there is no hierarchy in sacred commerce," she shares. not only is she taking care of her workers, she's also tending to the needs of her customers.

"fast fashion is like mcdonald's for the skin," kathryn ruminates. she offers the reminder that what we place on our skin is absorbed into our bloodstream {this is called dermal absorption}. hence, kathryn built a business that's akin to farm-to-table cuisine. she sources organic textiles + her entire supply chain is transparent, considering all people involved in production, from the harvesters, to the weavers + the sewers.

now, here's my favorite part about kathryn's story {because i love learning how people come to adopt their dreams, how they choose one path in life over another, like adopting a puppy at the pound}: i wanted to know how exactly does one come to a decision with so many wonderful options, all of them barking, begging for your attention?

i asked myself, ‘what would you like to do?’ i decided i was going to create my own job based on my passions.

i ask her how she came to this path as an eco entrepreneur, as a fashion designer, as a social media manager + marketer, as the person who seemingly does it all. and i love her answer, "i asked myself, 'what would you like to do?' i decided i was going to create my own job based on my passions. i am the prince of fashion: he did everything, and i do everything."

it makes sense that this multi-tasking woman has created so many multi-tasking items in her line, including charming, hand-blocked sheets. my bedding is all white, and the only color i've brought into my living space exists in the shape of green plants + antique books of varying muted tones. adding printed bedding is like adding a bouquet of flowers to any room. i love the subtle color palette + intricate patterns of each handmade piece.

by the sea's organic cotton sheets are made with a tight weave, making it a hardy companion for picnics {as a picnic blanket, it's big enough to fit all your friends + all those healthy eats too}, and its pretty enough to be hung as a curtain or used as a tablecloth {which i love to do}. the pillowcases are made with a lighter cotton fabric; they are ever so soft, and the blankets are light + deliciously cozy: all bedding is made with masterly craftsmanship, natural dyes + exquisite details.

in addition to women's wear + accessories, the line has grown to include woven + knits, as well as bedding + kitchen accessories {all fair trade items, all gots certified + some made with recycled cotton}. they have the loveliest clutches + wristlets {i have declared my love for clutches big + small here, but i'll say it again: i do a travel pouch love}. these clutches are perfect for artists + adventurers on the go: organize anything + everything in their colorful or monochromatic options.

{don't forget the tip} *conventional products + clothing carry toxins that are absorbed through our skin and can negatively impact our health + the health of the workers producing the goods {the chemicals in coloring dyes, scouring agents + industrial detergents have been linked to skin rashes, hormone disruption + cancer}. kathryn's entire line is made using only natural, non-toxic textiles + dyes. 

greening your home can seem like a daunting task if done all at once; take your time + choose one category or room at a time {green bath + beauty products, household cleansers, home goods}. for me, bedding was very important, and finding a label that has items in every category makes life that much easier. hop on over to by the sea for green living options for every room in your house. 

{images by cats like scotch}