My Take on the Fashion Industry: Being A Part of the Sustainable Fashion Initiative

 

Hi everyone,

As you may know, one of my jobs is being the lead blogger and freelance photographer for a Seattle based fashion company, Fashion for Conservation. I’m sharing my thoughts on the fashion industry, because I’ve been working in it for about a year now.

I’ve always loved having my own personal style, however, I was skeptical of getting involved in an industry that is driven by mass consumerism.

I love certain aspects of fashion, but I haven’t been fully on board until I was introduced to the idea of sustainable fashion. Why are we not focusing on driving a massive industry towards sustainable practices? Why can’t our clothes be the best of both worlds; sustainable and fashionable?

Fashion for Conservation aims to combine conservation and fashion, best of both coexisting worlds. That’s what drew me in.

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Photography: Kelly Zwicker
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Photography: Kelly Zwicker
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Photography: Kelly Zwicker

The tough thing is, it is completely possible, it’s just a matter of creating a shift in thinking from big brands and the audience that keep those brands afloat and relevant. People love their stuff, their clothes, their possessions. They love the fabrics that made it all happen, the precious fibers that hold their statement pieces together.

But there’s a bigger picture here. As the earth warms and animals are in a panic trying to  migrate from their beloved habitats, are we still going to care more about how exactly our clothes are made? If we have to switch to sustainably made clothes and accessories, is this going to drastically change our lives? No. But it could for the creatures we should be aiming to protect.

In 2017, I attended London Fashion Week with Fashion for Conservation, viewing designers’ work from all over the world. Yet as I attended the shows, I started to observe the people attending, as opposed to the designs. Why? I started to ask myself if they were there for the art and fashion design, or for the entitlement.

Why can’t beautiful designs be both sustainable and a representation of art and talent?

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Photography: Kelly Zwicker
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Photography: Kelly Zwicker

I have an entirely new view of fashion from working with Fashion for Conservation. There are multiple aspects of the industry I don’t care for, but collaborating with sustainable brands and designers, or featuring animal rights activists and wildlife photographers, is what makes it worth it for me. I feel like I’m playing a part in this bigger initiative, to make fashion and conservation work together for a brighter future.

As a blogger, I aim to work with sustainable brands, or cruelty-free makeup and skincare lines. It feels better ethically to be using products that don’t support animal testing, because I love animals. I refuse to wear them and I don’t believe in fashion sacrificing them for a trend.

I see zoos differently, and tourism. I now know what elephants, the majestic and beautiful creatures that they are, have to endure in order for a tourist to ride them. I know the history of what circuses did to their animals to get them to jump through rings of fire or behave absurdly for human amusement. I’m not trying to impose guilt with these words, I’m trying to share the progress we’ve already made and how much farther we still have to go.

In reality, we could learn from Animals. Fashion for Conservation’s Elephantasia campaign celebrated the elephant. How could they not be a priority?

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Photography: Chantelle Melzer
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Photography: Chantelle Melzer

I love personal style, finding new skincare products that work for me, and products here and there that compliment my everyday life. But they don’t have to come with the expense of an animal’s life. Animals aren’t here for our amusement or utility. We can all aim higher with our contribution to conservation efforts, and as long as I hold this position within Fashion for Conservation, I will keep doing so and inspire other individuals to do the same.

I consider this piece from a reporter’s perspective, given my realization London. I’m also thinking of starting a series of ethical and sustainable fashion trends. Thoughts?

How are you being sustainably fashionable? Let me know in the comments. xx

Happy Wednesday!

-Kelly

 

 

 

Introducing Hoja Nueva: A Peruvian Based Nonprofit

Happy Sunday Babes,

Cocktails for Conservation, and event held by Fashion for Conservation (FFC), was on the 28th and had a great turn out! I wanted to introduce the non-profit benefitted at the event, Hoja Nueva, which is based out of the remote Piedras region of Madre De Dios, Peru. Samantha Zwicker, the executive director of Hoja Nueva, spoke at the event as well. Samantha also happens to be my sister, and I’m planning to visit her eco-lodge at some point this year to possibly do a health project.

Pictured: Hoja Nueva Executive Director Samantha Zwicker 
Pictured: Hoja Nueva Executive Director Samantha Zwicker
Pictured: Samantha Zwicker in the Peruvian Amazon 
Pictured: Samantha Zwicker in the Peruvian Amazon

Samantha is a PhD student and current global health scholar most days, and other days she is trekking through the Peruvian Amazon camera trapping  jaguars, treating dogs, or working in the sustainable development of remote, impoverished communities. Her work with Hoja Nueva is very diverse and covers a wide range of health and environmental topics. When Samantha is home you can find her off exploring with her dog Copper in the Pacific Northwest, or spending time with her family.

“My love for animals and nature is what guides me,” says Samantha, “and continuing to provide a voice for the people and animals that go unheard.” Samantha aim to be a sort of global leader, inspiring others to make a difference and help much needed communities around the world. This drive to help created the idea of Hoja Nueva, a U.S 501 (c)(3) nonprofit organization.

Samantha began working in the lower Peruvian Amazon almost five years ago, drawn to the frontier forests within the controversial region of Madre De Dios, known globally for illegal mining and logging operations. The interoceanic highway was the last straw – a vast expanse of concrete stretching from the ports of Peru to the ports of Brazil brought an influx of people to corners of the Amazon that have never been reached before. Like other areas of the world opened up by roads, the interoceanic highway led to the creation of thousands of more roads for logging, agriculture, and settlement. For migrants in search of free land and a better future for their children, the unprotected forests of Las Piedras, albeit viewed as untamed jungle, were a blessing. The deforestation and habitat destruction incurred over the past six years however, has been detrimental for the future survival of wildlife and rainforest.

“We started Hoja Nueva as a grassroots organization,” Samantha says, “to raise standards of living in impoverished communities while maintaining healthy rainforest habitat.” Samantha and the Hoja Nueva team aim to effects change at a local scale, for the lives of people in both migrant and native communities. What is so commonly misunderstood is that these people are vital to rainforest conservation, therefore they must be constantly prioritized in research and conservation projects.

Sustainability projects have become very important to Hoja Nueva’s recent initiatives, or in other words, guiding Peruvian communities to thrive and develop in a sustainable way. Some of these projects include native communities gaining legal rights to their lands, and creating microfinance programs and alternative income opportunities.

Developing waste management and water quality projects, linking sustainable cocoa producers with buyers in the U.S., and bringing students and experts from around the world to educate support in the ways that they can, are very clear goals for Hoja Nueva. To reach their conservation and research goals, Hoja Nueva raised $60,000 in 2015 and 2016 to build a research station and eco-lodge, as well as buy 150-acre plot of land within one of the largest destructive agricultural communities in the Piedras region.

Pictured: The eco-lodge built for Hoja Nueva's research 
Pictured: The eco-lodge built for Hoja Nueva’s research
Pictured: The Hoja Nueva team camera trapping in the Amazon
Pictured: The Hoja Nueva team camera trapping in the amazon
Pictured: Samantha Zwicker with a child from Lucerna's community 
Pictured: Samantha Zwicker with a child from the Lucerna Community

Although Hoja Nueva has made great leaps since its founding, Samantha recognizes that are always limitations and obstacles when working in a nonprofit. “We find ourselves consistently faced with issues – big and small – that we want to confront and work on but we do not have the funds,” she claims, “One of the most difficult parts about running a nonprofit that is needs-based is not always being able to help.”

Hoja Nueva goes through periods of getting significant donations and funds to aid projects, and then there are also equal periods of time when Hoja Nueva struggles to make ends meet. It takes a lot of well though out distribution of funds and saving to keep the projects going, as Samantha has already experienced in her dedication to Hoja Nueva so far. “It is not always easy, but in the end it is always worth it,” she says.

Pictured: Hoja Nueva's official logo 
Hoja Nueva’s official logo
Pictured: Samantha Zwicker and Ronee Collins with members of the Lucerna community
Samantha Zwicker and Ronee Collins with members of the Lucerna community and volunteers

Local events, such as Cocktails for Conservation, spread awareness in a very effective way, through networking and creative stimulus of additions such as eco-fashion.

This brings in Hoja Nueva’s partnership with Fashion For Conservation (FFC), one Samantha is very proud to continue. Hosting events with FFC spreads awareness of Hoja Nueva’s efforts to a consumer crowd, which is crucial and hard to reach solely with Hoja Nueva’s media efforts. “The fashion industry is the third most destructive on Earth, ” Samantha claims, “especially as it relates to dies, cotton, and an uncanny amount of waste.”

The truth of the matter is, millions of people tune or attend events such as London or New York Fashion Week. Addressing this audience with issues that have erupted in the tropics and the world in general can make a monumental impact for Hoja Nueva’s cause. Not to mention that partnerships like these are a statement for future conservation efforts.

By living part of the year in both Peru and Seattle, Samantha stresses the importance of connecting with people and building networking for conservation projects. The topics of climate change, loss of biodiversity and wildlife species may have a new chance to gain awareness in the world of fashion, with the help of volunteers and those willing to put in a helping hand with education and promotion.

I’ve gotten involved with FFC because fashion really can have a sustainable base. We can make a significant difference, with the causes we choose to donate our money. There are individuals, like Samantha, who are working abroad to build a better future for the coexistence of nature and humans. We can do our part here at our home base.

When I do visit Peru with Hoja Nueva, I fully plan to photograph and document my experience. I’ve never been to South America.

I hope you enjoyed this FFC feature; a dive into my work with a fashion company that could make a big difference. Stay tuned for my next post, that will be up by Thursday evening. xx

-Kelly

 

 

Upcoming Event: Cocktails for Conservation In Seattle

Hello lovely people,

I wanted to check in and announce an event that will be taking place on November 28th, called Cocktails for Conservation. The event is being run by the company I work for, Fashion for Conservation (FFC). Mark your calendars and purchase a ticket to the show if you are interested. Link is here.

The event specifics:

 Location: Axis in Pioneer Square: 308 1st Ave S., Seattle, WA 98104

Time: 7 pm -10 pm

Why host this event? Because it will be fun and educational, and it will be inspiring for the merging of fashion and conservation. There will be great discussions, amazing guest speakers, and everything down to the cocktails will be jungle themed.

Fashion and Conservation could have an amazing future together as a combination, a whole new priority in the fashion industry. Starting out local with these events sparks larger projects, which sparks a much larger movement. Are you ready to join?

I will be in attendance, taking behind the scenes photography and hosting interviews. I would love to meet anyone that would like to attend, and support the benefited cause, Hoja Nueva. Hoja Nueva is based out of Peru, where the founder and executive director, Samantha Zwicker, does research on the wildlife inhabiting Peru’s lowland Amazon rainforest. Her current projects cover the topics of wildlife conservation, ecology, global health and community development.

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Pictured: Members of the community of Lucerna, Peru, with executive director Samantha Zwicker and Hoja Nueva team members
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Pictured: Khan the Ocelot, who was to be re-entered into the wild by Hoja Nueva member Harry Turner. Khan was killed by a poacher trap, and his memory drives Hoja Nueva to succeed with conservation efforts, despite resistance. 
There is an important theme of the partnership of Hoja Nueva with FFC. Hoja Nueva’s efforts are put towards a future where humans and wildlife can coexist together. A world where wildlife is not at the expense of human activity. Sustainability should not just be a trend, it should be a lifestyle people adapt to. It should be prioritized.

As for making sustainability trendy? This event is up to the challenge.

 

The evening features themed specialty cocktails, fashion design inspired by elephants and rainforests, holiday pop-up shops of local and international brands, and keynotes with jungle-dwelling Fashion for Conservation co-founder and Hoja Nueva president Samantha Zwicker.

Along with specialty cocktails and benefits to Hoja Nueva, the Cocktails for Conservation event will include fashion design inspired by elephants and rainforests, and holiday pop-up shops of local and international brands. FFC recently presented the Elephantasia line in London Fashion Week, so expect to witness some of the beauty of the eco-fashion at the event.

We are very happy to announce Endangered Species Chocolate as one of our sponsors for our goodie bags for VIP guests.

Endangered Species Chocolate (ESC), the makers of the country’s top rated non-GMO and Fair Trade chocolate indulgences, does more than make delicious treats. Through their 10% Give Back program they have been able to provide nearly $1.4 million to their conservation partners over the past three years. Currently partnering with Wildlife Conservation Network and Rainforest Trust, ESC will be celebrating their 25th anniversary in 2018, and have begun work to broaden their reach and efforts to support each of these great organizations through crafting premium chocolate.

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For the entertainment, we are thrilled to have J-NASTY, (Janice Ibarra). Janice is an emerging DJ, stylist, yoga teacher, and co-founder of Women.Weed.WiFi, which is an art collective-movement. Janice feels a strong connection with nature that she harnesses for her activities and lifestyle. The rainforest has taught her that the food of our ecosystem is  awareness. There’s a necessity for growth and change that we are responsible for initiating, and Janice loves to participate in events that get her involved with this change.

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I hope to see some of you there! xx

-Kelly

 

 

 

 

 

Fashion For Conservation’s Behind the Scenes: The London Edition

London was a whirlwind of fashion. The outfit changes, hair and makeup, the attention to detail. It was all build up to the Elephantasia line walking down the runway at the Fashion Scout venue. An ecofashion line within an industry that is primarily driven by money, Elephantasia represents a brighter future for the relationship between fashion and conservation. And the FFC team was in London for that representation.

In addition to the actual show day, the FFC team went to other venues, some with fresher jet lag than others. We witnessed the unique work of other designers with truly original vision.

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The FFC team was still arriving in groups on various flights. The team that had arrived in London thus far made a cheers to the months of coordinating and planning and social media preparation prior to this trip.

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Pictured: Ava Holmes (Executive Producer), Laura Choi (Campaign Director), Ronee Collins (Special Events Producer), Jason Pillay (Stylist), Kelly Zwicker (Lead Blogger), Samantha Zwicker (Sustainability Director)

We have such a diverse team of creative individuals, from different cities and backgrounds. We all have our individual creative strengths. Coming together in London was a special treat for us to celebrate what FFC has accomplished so far.

The day of the show was, of course, ten million things happening at once. It was a rush. As FFC’s blogger I captured the moments going up to the show, and the Fashion Scout venue was lovely.

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We started the show with a musical performance by guest musician Anthar Kharana, setting a specific mood for the audience.

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Pictured: Anthar Kharana

As for the show’s runway pictures, a full recap of the entire line can be found on the Fashion For Conservation blog, however, here are some of my snapshots captured at the venue.

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Pictured: Nazy Alvarez (Creative Director), Ava Holmes (Executive Producer), Anthar Kharana (Guest Musician), Samantha Zwicker (Sustainability Director)

London Fashion Week was a great experience for the FFC team, and it is one of the many events we will promote not just fashion, but conservation as well, and it’s future in this amazing industry.

I hope you all enjoyed this London Fashion Week BTS post! Have a productive and creative week. xx

-Kelly

Fashion for Conservation: Checking in from Ibiza

Hello everyone,

Fashion for Conservation (FFC) is currently abroad in Ibiza, where the talent and designs are hitting the runway in an exotic and special location! It is part of FFC’s initiative to become more and more International in its efforts to raise conservation awareness.

The FFC team has checked into Atzaro Hotel, just a few days before the runway will be live with excitement. We are happy to introduce the wonderful individuals for the following images:

Photographer: Ranveer Dua

Model: Patty from Purple Model Management

Makeup and Hair: Anju K. John

Designer Label: Shriti Pratap

The European tour will be 7 locations, Ibiza being the first destination. A global tour is FFC’s way of claiming a spot in the world of fashion, catering to sustainable fashion and the continuous education of animal conservation.

The Atzaro Hotel proves to be a premium spot for runway preparation, during the 2017 Atzaro Fashion Festival. Elephantasia is a new brand represented during the festival. Atzaro is a meeting place for creatives, artists, designers, and friends to gather and appreciate Ibiza and the fashion it can showcase. Check out the Elephantasia shoutout on the Atzaro website’s events section:

http://www.atzaro.com/en/bienvenidos/nuestros-eventos/

Ibiza is a beautiful destination. Here are sneak peaks of the venue and excitement, from the @Fashionforconservation Instagram page.

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The FFC team, including founder Ava Holmes, is preparing for the runway with fittings and final touches. Behind the scenes captures of the beautiful elephant inspired pieces are below:

Stay tuned for the results of Elephantasia’s first appearance in the Ibiza Fashion Festival, and more upcoming sneak peaks and behind the scenes of the rest of the European tour!

Special thanks to Nylon Pink TV and Diana Horsfall for the mentions of the Elephantasia campain and initiative, the respective links are below:

http://www.nylonpink.tv/elephantasia-can-save-african-elephants/

http://www.queenhorsfall.com/2017/06/safe-elephants-elephantasia-exhibition.html?m=1

Designers in the Ibiza fashion show:

C.Nicol, Ivory Ella, Vismaya Collection, Prophetik, Gabriela Rose, Meredith Allen, The Autonomous Collection, Rachel Allan, Shirt Pratap, Ruke, Zefryas

We always love to have more influencers and supporters on board to raise elephant awareness and be a part of the magic behind sustainable fashion.

Cheers,

The FFC team

Behind the Scenes: Vann Edge Salon

Hello fashion babes,

Behind the scenes moments give the best glimpses of raw talent and passion behind the work of Fashion for Conservation (FFC)’s members and contributors. A recent BTS editorial shoot was at Vann Edge in downtown Seattle, to showcase pieces of the upcoming Elephantasia collection in London Fashion week. I wanted to share this experience on my personal blog here at kstateofmind in addition to FFC’s blog. I hope you enjoy.

Model: Hanna 

Model: Hanna

The featured jewelry is from Ashanti Reneé Boutique, made out of complete sustainable and eco-friendly materials. The pieces are full of vibrant color and great potential for movement in photos. Accents of nature are clearly shown in the various necklaces and bright bangles. Ashanti Renee Boutique was founded 10 years ago, originally displaying products for local events and pop-up shops, but is now live online for global purchases. Merchandise and jewelry from the boutique feature African inspirations, making the line special in its cultural aesthetic.

While I was taking behind the scenes photos of the wonderful chaos, talented photographer James Cheng was the on set photographer, Lisa Vann from Vann Edge for hair styling, and Bek Harvey for makeup.

Lots of time and energy goes into getting the ideal shots to showcase collections, and lighting is crucial. The indoor space next to Vann Edge salon made for great lighting and natural shadows, which I played with for some headshots of Fashion For Conservation’s founder Ava Holmes, wearing a beautiful piece from Ashanti Reneé Boutique.

The outfits I was present for are below, each demonstrating lovely textures and accents of the elephant species, all designed by Free.Mind.

It was inspiring to see the team in action, pictured below are Ava Holmes, hair stylist Lisa Vann, and photographer James Cheng.

Pictured: FFC founder Ava Holmes, hair stylist Lisa Vann, and photographer James Cheng. 

Pictured: FFC founder Ava Holmes, hair stylist Lisa Vann, and photographer James Cheng.

Stay tuned for another BTS experience with FFC and the talented individuals that make this all happen.

Featured individuals’ sites and profiles:

Photographer: James Cheng @jameschengphoto

Producer: Ava Holmes @ava.j.holmes

Creative Director: Nazy Alvarez (not present)

Model: Hanna @_myfriendhanna

Hair: Lisa Vann @lisavanntexture

Makeup: Bek Harvey @bek.harvey

Jewelry: Ashanti Renee Boutique @ashanti_renee_boutique

Design: Elephantasia by Free.Mind

I hope you all enjoyed my Fashion for Conservation update. Creating and collaborating make my days so much fuller in the best way. Stay bold. xx

-Kelly 

Through the Lens: With Chantelle Melzer

This week, the Fashion for Conservation (FFC) team recognizes wildlife photographer Chantelle Melzer. Raised in Zululand, South Africa, Chantelle was always drawn to capturing wildlife in the African bush. Although studying Natural Sciences proved to cater to Chantelle’s desire to be involved in animal research, her other passion is art. Photography gives Chantelle an artistic outlet, while additionally promoting conservation through her images of incredible species.

 

Chantelle Melzer Photography 

Chantelle Melzer Photography

 

Chantelle is constantly inspired by her photography. “It’s the concept of visual storytelling. I love capturing moments in time, fine details, moods and emotions that tell a story. I have always had a fascination and love for art in its many forms, but it is photography which has become the primary medium that allows me to explore and express that passion.”

Photography has indeed become Chantelle’s full-time profession, and it gives her consistent opportunities to fully appreciate what nature and wildlife have to offer. Taking the time to capture precious moments of wildlife provides the unseen beauty of the natural environment that many people do not get to see, or stop to observe. Chantelle aims to educate people on the importance of conservation by inspiring them with her photographs.

 

Chantelle Melzer Photography 

Chantelle Melzer Photography

 

Chantelle’s combined passions of art and wildlife for the greater good is very similar to FFC’s drive to combine fashion and conservation. Elephantasia, the current campaign of FFC, motivated Chantelle to get involved due to elephants being one of her favorite subject matters. She initially made contact with FFC creator Ava Holmes, brainstorming ideas and thinking about potential collaborations. “This introduced me to the concept of Fashion for Conservation,” exclaims Chantelle, “ which really struck a chord with me as I have often thought of how wonderful it would be to bring more conservation-based ethics into the fashion industry, and how conservation projects and initiatives could benefit from the support of the fashion industry.”

Chantelle feels grateful to live in Southern Africa to be in the presence of elephants and witness their amazing traits. Chantelle refers to them as “intelligent, emotive, powerful yet gentle sentient beings,” although the illegal ivory trade casts a dark shadow on the survival of so many elephants even today. Elephantasia, being so centered on helping elephants and their way of live in the wild, immediately struck a chord with Chantelle to participate with her powerful photography.

 

Chantelle Melzer Photography 

Chantelle Melzer Photography

 

In terms of what FFC has to offer, Chantelle views the organization as a dual effort, both promoting the beauty and necessity of wildlife and the natural world, as well as recognizing how to create sustainable fashion within it. “I love the feeling of unity of purpose,” she says, “the passion behind this drive, and the possibilities of what could be achieved.”

Combining the worlds of nature and fashion makes sense due to how much inspiration nature has already given fashion in the past. The current initiative of FFC is to ensure that it is a sustainable combination that in fact re-invests money in conservation in addition to the awareness and appreciation other brands have accomplished. Chantelle fully supports this movement and looks forward to the progress to be made in future events and projects.

As Chantelle also recognizes, the fashion world often comes at the expense of the natural environment. “We do live in a very broken world where priorities of so many have shifted towards keeping up with popular trends,” she admits, “with little or no regard for the negative impacts they might have, rather than actually focusing on preserving the natural habitats around us.” It saddens Chantelle that the fashion industry often has such devastating effects on the environment and the beautiful wildlife she aims to protect.

 

Chantelle Melzer Photography 

Chantelle Melzer Photography

 

Chantelle believes in the FFC initiative to bridge the gap between fashion and conservation and focus individuals’ attention back towards conservation efforts, while still highlighting beautiful creations from featured designers. Currently, Chantelle views FFC as a revolutionary movement.

In terms of FFC going more international, Chantelle also incorporates her support given her residing in South Africa.”It is critical that ideology of FFC is spread rapidly and showcased all over the world,” she exclaims, “ in order to bring about a global shift in mindset and to inspire a trend aimed at supporting conservation through fashion.”

 

Chantelle Melzer Photography 

Chantelle Melzer Photography

 

The FFC team is thrilled to have such a talented and passionate wildlife photographer on board for future projects and for increasing conservation awareness.The images alone that Chantelle has captured speak volumes without having to say anything at all, and that is the beauty of photography as an art form.

For more of Chantelle’s exquisite work, visit her website: chantellemelzer.com

Keep up with the Fashion for Conservation blog for more updates and staff features, as well as our social media accounts! Fashionforconservation.com

xx

Thanks for reading!

-K