Francesca Willow is an artist, a writer and the dazzling creative behind Ethical Unicorn. With her unique, informed voice she aims to inspire and equip her readers with the knowledge they need to live a more sustainable, educated lifestyle. Francesca believes that small choices have big impacts when we make them together.
What inspired you to start Ethical Unicorn?
In 2016 some of my friends decided to go zero waste. They created a Facebook group for people to follow and get inspired and I ended up in it, becoming inspired to start the lifestyle myself. At the same time, I had a friend working in PR who was representing quite a few cruelty-free and ethical brands; I started thinking about how all these issues link together, but I couldn’t find anyone in the UK talking about them all in one place. I decided to try and be that person and started Ethical Unicorn three days later!
Which post on your blog most encapsulates your values and why?
This is such a good question! Probably this piece on eco-friendly web hosting, for two reasons. Firstly, it touches on the more practical elements of blogging and how I got started, but it also demonstrates that I don’t have everything figured out. There is always more to learn and more ways to grow, but there are often new solutions to find too. I guess my main value is that it’s a journey, which is cliche but true. It’s important to just keep going and not beat ourselves up when we stumble.
Which post do you wish could reach the biggest audience and why?
Probably this post on understanding fake news and media bias. There are some obvious reasons why I think this has become more important in 2017, but I also just think it’s generally good information to have to hand when we read or research anything. I’ve seen a lot of people jump to conclusions and get into arguments around ethics that they maybe could’ve avoided if they’d took the time to look over their sources. It’s a bit of a nerdy answer, but I really do believe in research.
What’s your biggest challenge in pursuing your mission?
Plastic, always plastic. Some days you do great at avoiding it, some days you ask for no straw and they give you two. That’s when I have to remind myself that we’re all just trying our best.
What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned?
It’s difficult to tick all the boxes and it’s difficult to please everyone, but you can still do something. It’s also easy to get discouraged, but it’s good to remember that bad things tend to happen all at once, whilst positive change happens incrementally. Just because it’s not reported all over the news doesn’t mean that progress isn’t being made.
Share a couple of your favourite blogs. Why do you like them?
There are quite a few. Off the top of my head, I always love Sustainably Chic’s style and imagery, Ecocult’s extensive knowledge and information (seriously a great resource) and Leotie Lovely’s unique writing style and way of telling stories.
Can you tell us about a product you’ve owned forever and why it’s important to you?
I feel like most things I’ve owned and loved forever aren’t really “products.” I have a tiny bible that my great uncle got in Jerusalem in 1943 and a tiny crucifix that my grandfather got in Jerusalem in the ’70s. They never met each other, but both items ended up with me. I love them both because they’ve lasted for so long and been through so much, and they come from both sides of my family. It’s nice when something can last long enough that it takes on a whole story beyond its use.
What is important to you when you’re buying sustainable products?
What the product is made from, who made the product and how they were treated/paid, how long it’s likely to last and of course if I like it. If it lasts a long time, is made from natural materials that will biodegrade again and if it was made under ethical conditions with good pay, that’s a win. If I like it, I plan to hold on to it for years and years.
Can you tell us about the last time something broke and disappointed you?
I bought a pair of nude tights specifically to wear for a wedding. They got a hole the first time I wore them, and it wasn’t even caused by me doing something! It’s frustrating because I don’t wear a lot of tights anyway.
What vision do you have for Ethical Unicorn for the future?
I really love how it’s working at the moment, so in the nearer future I’d just like to keep growing and have more people read and engage, whilst also finding and maintaining a balance with work as a performer (aka, I’m trying to get better at emails!). I think further down the line it would be great to be a larger organisation that could also support and pay other writers fairly; although, that’s a pretty long-term goal, of course. I just want to support independent artists, writers and businesses as much as I can!
What do you love most about what you do and what drives you to keep going at it?
Sometimes I get disheartened, but then someone will send me a message out of the blue asking for advice or thanking me for something I wrote that helped them. It really encourages me to keep going. It is hard work, but I feel it’s where I’m best suited to play a part, so as long as it keeps helping out someone somewhere, then I’ll keep doing it. What I love is feeling like I’m resourcing, spreading awareness or helping in some way.