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OVER COFFEE: SANTICLER x KATHRYN KNOX

The original version of this interview first appeared on Santicler dot com, published December 2, 2022.

United by an empowered sense of style and more considered wardrobe decisions, from their closets and homes to their careers, Over Coffee we explore how the women we admire have interpreted the meaning of living sustainably.


Authentic and without judgment towards oneself or others, today, we’re kicking this series off with our dear friend, Kathryn Knox.


Taken in Capri, Italy, Kathryn wears our Amber Crew Neck Bodysuit in Black, a Fallabella crossbody bag, and organic denim by Stella McCartney, Good News London organic cotton high tops, and cosmetics from Credo Beauty.


Until recently, fashion and sustainability existed in entirely different worlds. However, a fashion industry veteran and trailblazing sustainability powerhouse, Kathryn proved long ago that this was more theory than reality.


From corporate fashion to entrepreneurship and now part of our Santicler team, the overriding theme throughout Kathryn’s career has been to inspire people to live more consciously and compassionately.

Through this lens, she invites participation in an immersive dialogue where what we wear, who and what we support, and where our purchases are manufactured actually make a difference.


Discover why she unapologetically proclaims to be Santicler’s biggest supporter, the unique perspectives that have shaped her more nuanced views on sustainability, and why she believes Santicler is among the best when it comes to sustainable fashion.


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MMM


L to R: First image, taken in Brooklyn, New York, and standing in front of the Transmute Tapestry by artist Mika Cali, Kathryn wears our Nova Double Layer V- Neck Bodysuit in Foam, a citrine necklace by Neila Nilow, organic denim by Stella McCartney, and cosmetics from Credo Beauty. Second Image, taken in Aspen, Colorado, Kathryn wears our Astrid Organic Cotton Dress in Black.



Monica Magdas Miller: While it’s more accessible now, in the summer of 2000, you began consuming organic food and embracing a sustainable lifestyle. Almost simultaneously, you started college, majoring in fashion merchandising and design. These are seemingly opposite worlds, so tell us more.

Kathryn Knox: I became a fashion enthusiast by the age of 4! By the time I was in elementary school, I had declared I was moving to NYC to work in the fashion industry. By high school, I was giving Cher Horowitz a run for her money. I also grew up camping, have been vegetarian since birth, and then went vegan in Texas. My dad still doesn’t know where he went wrong!


While my interests dabbled in opposite worlds, the summer between high school and college sealed my “fate.”


At that point, I’d been introduced to Whole Foods; things clicked, dots connected, and while there was no way I would forgo cheese, a packed closet, or my love of makeup, I became horrified by the realities I was uncovering.


Yet the term organic (let alone sustainable, regenerative, circular, conscious, considered, etc.) had barely made a blip on anyone’s radar for food. Clothing, beauty products, and home goods were years away from entering the conversation.


Without readily available resources or brands, I spent hours devouring information at Whole Foods and in dusty bookstores. Following what felt like getting a Ph.D. from the produce department and their beauty sections, along with an internship that landed me behind the scenes and backstage with Bob Mackie and Geoffrey Beene, I became determined to strike a balance between my new worlds, authentically and without compromise.


Navigating my new lifestyle through a more holistic lens, or what I called “fashion, with a side of granola,” I developed a unique perspective that allowed me to avoid “programming” while also making this lifestyle my own.


MMM: You worked for Neiman Marcus, producing and styling fashion shows for almost every major luxury brand. Next, you moved to New York City, where you established and directed the events departments for ESCADA and Michael Kors. Following an impressive corporate career, you launched your sustainable marketing and consulting agency, Stone Sevyn, a decade ago.


This doesn’t sound very granola, so what exactly did “fashion with a side of granola,” as you’ve called it, look like?


KK: Long before it was on trend, I discovered some of my favorite pieces in consignment and vintage shops. Then, I moved to New York City, and while working in corporate fashion, I had a clothing allowance and access to some of the most coveted sample sales.


By 2005, Stella McCartney was also on the scene. Initially, her shoes and accessories were the ONLY game in town, and as a recovering shoe-a-holic, I relapsed; I mean, I indulged a lot.


Not to say my unique style didn’t raise a few eyebrows, but my life in Stella’s (Stella McCartney footwear) kept me grounded and focused and allowed me to develop a more nuanced perspective about the different worlds I straddled. This was especially important for what would unfold in the decades to come.

MMM: Where is this closet now?


KK: Following a run-in with Mother Nature and Hurricane Sandy, most of this closet no longer exists. Interestingly enough, fashion-forward sustainable brands began popping up around the same time. While I never wore fast fashion, I wonder if Hurricane Sandy was my Fashion Intervention. Maybe. However, I’d venture to say my closet is still a whimsical wonderland!


L to R: Taken in Aspen, Colorado, in the first image Kathryn wears our Sarah Cashmere Duster Cardigan in Fawn and the Anna Cashmere Triangle Scarf in Sugar and in the second photo she's wearing our Mara Eco-Cashmere Sweater Coat and Beanie in Granite.


MMM: Your first order with Santicler was number 44. Clearly, you’ve been one of our loyal customers since the beginning. With a closet filled with vintage, luxury designers and Stella McCartney pieces, what attracted you to Santicler?


KK: First, I AM Santicler’s biggest fan! Although, now, it does appear I have some stiff competition to retain that title!


In all seriousness, I’ve been at the forefront of sustainable fashion for over twenty years. While the industry is improving, consumers are also becoming more educated. Therefore, brands can no longer cover up bad practices such as supply chain issues, human and environmental rights violations, and overproduction. However, most brands still talk an excellent game, but they don’t walk it, and if they do, they’re not walking far.


Santicler is different. It speaks to the realities of this industry and its limitations. As a company, you actively and transparently move the needle forward, and are also determined to make the business of fashion more sustainable.


That’s the key.


After business, it comes down to your product. I have traveled with and washed the Amber bodysuit a million times, yet it looks identical to when I first purchased it. While it’s made of viscose, you’ve ensured the fiber is traceable, certified, and long-lasting. The same can be said for your organic cotton bodysuits I’ve purchased.


On top of transparency and your quest to transform the business of sustainable fashion, most importantly, you’ve built meaningful relationships with your suppliers and factories, ensuring that everything is what you claim it to be.


To personally visit your production facilities multiple times a year is unprecedented, but it’s also allowed for the quality of Santicler to improve and exceed expectations.


Taken outside of the Prince's Palace in Monaco, with views of Monte Carlo Harbor and the French Riviera, Kathryn wears our Eco-Cashmere duster and scarf in Fawn, a Fallabella crossbody bag, and organic denim by Stella McCartney, Good News London organic cotton high tops and cosmetics from Credo Beauty.


MMM: Besides Santicler, what other brands do you wear, love, and recommend?


KK: These days, I practically live in athleisure. I mix my Santicler pieces with LNDR, Beyond Yoga, Industry of All Nations, and Groceries Apparel.


It is worth noting that while the activewear segment of the apparel industry still has a long way to go towards reducing its overall environmental impact, specifically in terms of marrying biodegradability with performance AND longevity, there is a lot of research, development, and innovation taking place in the space, so I’m excited to see what will come next.


Regarding shoes, I don’t wear leather, but I appreciate that Aera New York and Piferi, both Italian-made, picked up where Stella McCartney left off.


In terms of a one-stop sustainable shop, FashionKind, and Maison de Mode have done a great job curating fashion-focused sustainable brands.

MMM: You travel a lot. And everyone has vacation on their mind. Do you have any sustainably focused hotels or vacation suggestions?


KK: I love traveling- wandering, exploring, stumbling upon hidden gems, and having achieved million-miler status when I was 28 (just last year, of course), I’ve certainly stayed in some of the best hotels around the world.


Considering luxury, sustainability, and convenience, 1 Hotel in South Beach tops my list. There are others, such as Eden Rock St Barths, Austin Proper Hotel, and the West Hollywood Edition, whose meticulous attention to detail is also impressive.


However, it was my trip to the Philippines 12 years ago that remains my favorite ecotourism destination. Called The Farm at San Benito, it’s one of the top eco-luxury holistic wellness resorts in the world. A healing sanctuary, this “health nirvana” is tucked away in the middle of a jungle on a coconut plantation. I stayed in a hut, had a daily massage while listening to the rain and frogs, indulged in holistic treatments, ate right from the land, and the resident peacock, Charlie, took a liking to me. The last part was slightly terrifying when he attempted to break in at 2AM the first night, but we both survived.

MMM: Speaking of nature, how do you connect with her? Do you have a routine or a ritual?


KK: Two years ago, I escaped the city and immersed myself in nature. I also discovered and fell in love with the practice of Pilates and rescued an eight-year-old golden retriever named Toby. Connecting my “organic” lifestyle with breathwork and intentional movement has been a game changer; so has taking Toby on mile-long walks surrounded by trees, birds, and squirrels and grounding my feet on the earth.


Enjoying a Texas sunset with Toby, Kathryn wears our Mira Viscose Turtleneck Bodysuit in Cream with our Andrada Eco-Cashmere Cable Knit Sweater and Addison Eco-Cashmere Pants, both in Beige Sparkle and our Eco-Cashmere socks from the Cloud Nine Travel Set. Her shoes and beanie are by Stella McCartney, with cosmetics from Credo Beauty.



Before you go, rapid-fire…


MMM: Favorite Santicler piece?

KK: Pieces… the Mara eco-cashmere coat for being unbelievably luxurious and warm, the incredibly cozy Addison recycled cashmere pant, and of course, the timeless Amber bodysuit in certified viscose.

MMM: Favorite Give-Back?

KK: Recommended by my friend Julia, co-founder of Hera the Dog Vodka, Toby and I are supporting A Dogs Life Rescue this year.

MMM: Favorite book, poem, podcast, or app?

KK: All-time book? It’s a tie between The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho and The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand. Poem? If, by Rudyard Kipling. Currently, the Huberman Lab podcast and the Op_e___n app for breathwork.

MMM: Favorite subscription?

KK: If I still lived in LA, it would be Flamingo Estate’s Regenerative Farm Box. Because I’m not, their email is the next best thing.

MMM: Favorite Artist?

KK: Mika Cali, Studio Drift, John Grade Studio, Ulrike Arnold… in general, artists that work with nature - communicating her language through symbols, wood, metal, pigments, or light.

MMM: Just One (Last) Thing?

KK: Our thoughts are powerful; they impact our internal cells, nervous system, and more.

Therefore, disconnecting from the standard and silencing emotionally charged narratives - ones we’ve either told ourselves or the noise we’ve externally consumed, can shift and ultimately transform our reality.

Empowering more informed decisions, through this realignment, we have the opportunity to design genuine solutions to our personal, humanitarian, and pollution problems, creating ripples of consciousness that make sustainability actually sustainable.


Voting with our dollars also helps.


After a long hiatus, Kathryn has promised to rejoin the online world. If you want to connect with and discover more about her, you can visit her website or find her on Instagram.


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