Our mission at This Same Sky has always been to create a smaller, stranger world by honoring artisan voices, helping preserve traditional crafts and curating collections that invite us to reimagine our relationship to our body and planet. In that spirit, we're kicking off a series of interviews fittingly called Visible Change, with change makers, whose intentions, dreams and lifestyles offer us a window into making, shaping, sharing and shopping in more sustainable and conscious ways.
Niha Elety is an artist, influencer and educator. To us, she represents a gorgeous mix of glamor, kindness and creativity. Representing her Indian-American identity, she shares flavorful vegan recipes, sari styling tips, and traditional artisan painting techniques. Her personal style is feminine and eclectic, and she often reinvents found and thrifted pieces into fresh, iconic looks. (We also love that most photo credits are attributed to her sister.)
Read on for our interview with Niha:
What did you dream about as a kid?
I was introduced to Indian and Western art at the age of five and always imagined myself being an artist when I grew up. I love that art is still a big part of my life today.
What do you do now?
I like to call myself a slashie because I currently work as a Technical Solutions Specialist at a corporate company but after hours I am a South Asian creative artist whose work explores sustainability through intersections of fashion, art, culture and social justice. My platform looks to revive and incorporate Indian heritage to bring inclusivity to the sustainable fashion and environmental movement. I am passionate about using media to showcase narratives that have been systemically silenced. I am also an aspiring fashion designer and hope to launch my own regenerative, size/gender inclusive brand soon. My career turned out different than I imagined but I am glad I am able to fund my dreams with my 9 to 5.
How do you set intentions?
Our lives are so fast paced making it difficult to remember things even throughout the day, so I set my intentions daily by writing them down as soon as I wake up. I also verbally share my intentions with myself because it helps me bring it into existence. Finally I make sure to meditate for 15-20 minutes everyday because it gives me time to slow down, be still, clear my mind, and detach myself.
What are your current intentions? For this year, season, day?
My current intentions are to let go. To me letting go means to detach from desires to truly experience happiness. Letting go doesn't mean we shouldn’t care about anyone and anything. But rather means we can experience life and love fully and openly without depending on something. Desire and suffering go hand in hand so to me being happy and peaceful means detaching.
What’s your design philosophy?
My design philosophy is centered around sustaining heritage and recontextualizing it for the new world. South Asian heritage is common for a lot of my design work. I also look to the natural environment. Humans have dissociated themselves from the environment to the point where we don’t recognize ourselves and our actions to have an impact on the earth. This has created a wasteful/harmful narrative and that's why I consider the natural ecosystem in its entirety when I design.
What supports you in tapping into your intuition?
I usually have a strong gut feeling about the things that I do and do not believe in. Listening and letting my mind wander gets my brain to explore possibilities. I pay attention to my environment and gather information to support my intuition. Finding time to be still is one of the most important things when I am tapping into my intuition. I also find it helps to interact with people who enrich and empower you.
What inspires you?
There are so many things but the biggest is being surrounded by people who are passionate, empowering, and enriching. People inspire people so I make sure to interact with my family, friends and creatives to give me new perspective and support when I am stuck.
The other thing that inspires me is the fight for social and environmental justice because they are one and the same. There are so many incredible activists, grassroots organizations and creators working to protect the people and planet. I learn so much from them and am inspired to share and build upon their work.
What are your favorite objects?
I am not particularly drawn to objects but the ones that mean the most to me usually have a story or intention behind them. Vintage things like old family photographs, or artwork, and fabric from India that remind me of my heritage are my favorites.
What’s your favorite icon from the This Same Sky visual legend? What does it represent for you? What's your favorite product? Why?
My favorite icon from the legend is the Amorphous icon representing organic matter. To me it’s a lovely reminder that we are all a part of the earth and made up of the same thing. My favorite product is the silk Root scarf because of the intention to “let go” and the beautiful turquoise amorphous icons.