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Infusing some sustainability into your wardrobe by Frankie Meaden

From left: Jody Stewart & Frankie Meaden - the gorgeous, talented, passionate creatives behind Beautifully Frank!

Frankie, CEO and Creative at Beautifully Frank sharing a bit about her journey into making sustainable face masks, upcycled artwork, and 5 tips to infuse sustainability into your wardrobe. A huge amount of landfill waste comes from the fashion industry. We all know this, and it sucks because I really love clothes, and I really love shopping.

I always have.

I was a small child, & when I was young my parents were missionaries, so we'd often shop at op shops. And I'd often be drowning in items that were way too big. So I learnt to repurpose items from op shops from a pretty young age, maybe around 12.

Other than clothes and shopping, I love drawing, design, sewing & just creating in general. (Oh! And I love my children, but that's a whole different topic. & husband. Those guys are important to me too, I promise)

Anyway, as a teenager I studied Art and Fashion through school and for a year at Uni in London. One highlight of that was having my work selected by the Tate and displayed for a few months in one of the Tate galleries in London. I was 18. I’ve been running my creative business Beautifully Frank for 2 years now, and was working on it long before that. Beautifully Frank has been my way of fulfilling my desire to create, without being part of the fashion pollution problem.

More recently, I'm living in Auckland with a beautiful family and silly springer spaniel, spending my time at playgrounds with preschoolers and squeezing in time to paint and embroider second hand items whenever they're sleeping.

Beautifully Frank was where I started to share the things I was creating. At the start, it was anything from jewellery to kids halloween costumes, and I've developed it into a business and a brand that at the core is about creating beautiful things, while repurposing and reducing waste.

We create gorgeous one-of-a-kind artwork on pre-loved denim jackets, and canvas’ for your homes, with hand-stitched embroidery detail & hand-painted pieces.

Now people from all over send us their jackets from their own wardrobes and people love it so much that Beautifully Frank has grown from one to two. Jody is my business bestie, we both sketch, paint, embroider on jackets. We really love it, and love working on Beautifully Frank creative projects / doing life together.

"Rather than going out and buying a new jacket, upcycle one you have!"

Another little environmentally friendly thing that we do is team up with Eden Reforestation, who plant a tree with every sale we make. It's just another way for us to try and reduce our harm to the planet, our attempt at offsetting our inevitable shipping costs.

In September 2021, Jody wanted to use our studio fabric scraps to make herself a mask. That’s escalated into our being our best seller during this covid season; our sustainably made facemasks. (Cath from Mia Belle has one!) We went through a few design improvements, now they’re perfect. Jody has this amazing idea to create soft adjustable straps by upcycling old t-shirts, and we source pretty second hand fabrics. They are very popular as they are so comfortable and cute!

I’ve put together something that may interest those of you who love the environment and also love fashion, a list of 5 tips you can use to infuse sustainability into your wardrobe.

Here we go!

1. Swaps

I can't tell you how many items from my wardrobe originated from a friends one, but it's a LOT.

We have a clothes swap every season.

This is how we do it. Everyone brings along at least 5 items, with no holes or damage. (In our group we usually find a whole lot more than 5 to bring). Side note - I've learnt that even when I think I won't have enough things to bring to swap, because I took so much to the last one, I always have plenty that I'm not actually wearing.

We take turns going through our pile of clothes, holding up each item & describing them..."This top is size 10 and originally from H&M" And those who are interested sing out.

If more than one person wants an item, they both try it on, and we have a catwalk & vote. Which sounds scary, but it usually looks like "Oh my goodness, that is definitely your colour", rather than looking like a cat fight.

If no-one wants it, it goes in the no pile. Which can be gone through for items for other people (people who aren't at the swap, it's quite common for us to go through the pile and grab some tiny items for daughters, etc). This pile is eventually taken to an op shop by the host.

2. Op shops

Buying second hand saves a lot of natural resources, reduces waste and minimises our impact on the environment

It also:

- Is cheaper than usual shopping.

- Is like treasure hunting, you can always find unique clothes, accessories, and furniture.

- Will help and support the community, a lot of second hand store work with charities.

- Can help you find your own style instead of following trends.

- Is a budget-friendly choice for parents, since kids outgrown their clothes so fast.

3. Instagram, Facebook Marketplace, Trademe

There are tonnes of 're-sellers' on instagram, people who have built feeds by finding second hand items and selling them on. Here are some examples:

These people are your friends! They curate collections and sift through all the not-so-great clothes out there, to make second hand shopping quick and easy. A little too easy, make space in your wardrobe by hosting a swap before you start following these guys on social media. Haha.

4. Fix those broken things

I know, it's a bit boring. I like to chuck fixable items into a box, and then about once a month I go through the box and stitch up all the holes, re-attach buttons, etc. It's actually really nice to have those items back, sometimes I've really missed an item. That might just be me, I do get a little overly attached to clothing.

So borrow your mates sewing machine, and ask them to teach you the basics. I promise you can do it.

Or just head to youtube, there are so many tutorials online.

5. Organise your wardrobe

I know this sounds silly, but honestly, it works for me. I have a system for my closet.

Everything is hanging on matching hangers, everything has a place. Categorised by item (pants, tops, jumpers, jackets, skirts, dresses), and within those categories organised into rainbow order, dark to light. The result is a very user-friendly space, easy to find what you need, to make outfits, and to see which items you don't actually wear, and can take to the next swap.

Maximise your closet's potential!

If you want more motivation/inspo, watch 'Get Organised, The Home Edit' on Netflix, but be careful, you may have urges to buy a million clear plastic boxes, and we don't want that. Use what you can find in your home already! Shoe boxes are a winner, I even use the lid of shoe boxes to great segments in my draws. Winning.

I hope you find this encouraging. You can totally make some steps towards your wardrobe being more sustainable, and start not only looking good in your fab outfits, but really feeling good and knowing you're making a difference to the crazy fashion waste. Start by hosting a swap with your friends, setting a date on that will force the closet re-organise to happen too. Who doesn't love a little deadline to get things done.


If you are curious about getting your own jacket upcycled, want to see my wall art or get your own eco friendly facemask, say hello to Jody and me on instagram or facebook, or head to

Bridal Denim Jacket by Beautifully Frank

Handmade quality masks by Beautifully Frank

Re-usable cotton masks by Beautifully Frank

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