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In Her Element: Stephanie Dickson, Founder of Green is the New Black

In Her Element is a photoseries by Delegate featuring inspiring women in Singapore who excel in their various domains. For our fifth issue, we visited Stephanie, the founder of Green Is the New Black, in her home. The place, tucked away in Lavender, doubles as the meeting space for the GITNB team.

_DSC1345For Stephanie Dickson, founding the Green is the New Black festival marries her skills as an event-specialist and her belief in the conscious living movement. The Australian-Scottish enjoys bringing people together and attests to having done so her whole life. Since young, she excelled in throwing parties and was always on various committees. “I was captain even though I wasn’t sporty, just because I liked to organise,” she added.

Born in Sydney to Scottish parents, Stephanie grew up in Asia and left to attend university in Melbourne, majoring in both Chinese and Marketing while minoring in Italian. She returned to Singapore after being offered her dream job, at that time, which was to plan fashion festivals and luxury events in the region. However, the dream was shattered later on when she became aware of the not-so-beautiful undercurrents of the fashion industry.

“I started watching documentaries and had a bit of an awakening. I realised that I was on autopilot and wasn’t really enjoying my life anymore.”

The documentary that had the most profound effect on her was “The True Cost”. She realised that her work in the fashion industry was contributing to the problem of unsustainable practices and wanted to be part of the solution instead.

Capitalising on her knack for planning events, Stephanie founded The Wedge in 2015 to connect like-minded individuals interested in the conscious living movement. With the help of several volunteers, the team from The Wedge launched Green Is the New Black, a conscious-living festival, a year later. GITNB has since expanded beyond being a yearly festival and they now have an online platform, where they share about sustainable brands and their stories and facilitate conversations about conscious living. They seek to empower people who are keen on making an impact—especially millennials and young families—with regular bite-sized information and stories about how they can make changes to promote a more sustainable lifestyle.

“Our main aim is to become the number 1 place in Asia for conscious living and sustainable living.”

montage1Promoting the conscious living movement is more than just her day job and Stephanie has weaved sustainable practices into her lifestyle. Besides switching to a pescetarian diet, she has also adopted little everyday actions like bringing her own bags, bottles, cutlery and containers.

Stephanie cautions that fashion is another industry that’s having a negative impact and encourages people to maximise what they have. In addition to cutting down her consumption for fashion, she also opts for sustainable brands like Matter and attends clothes-swapping events like Swapaholic. It’s a good option for those looking to have new outfits without contributing to fast fashion, she added. Stephanie1

Though she greatly enjoys working for a cause she believes in, the entrepreneur admitted that starting her own business was no easy feat. In fact, her greatest challenge was herself.

“I put a lot of pressure on myself in the beginning and drove myself quite crazy.” 

Initially, she struggled working so hard and yet seeing little results, with people not knowing who they were and the conscious living movement moving slowly. But now, the hard work has paid off and the bigger impact of the movement is evident. Her advice for entrepreneurs? “You have to work a lot on yourself and on your mindset. Patience is another thing too.”

Even now, the 29-year-old is still constantly pushing and challenging herself and growing as an entrepreneur. She considers it a blessing to be able to get up in the morning and choose what she does every day and is thrilled to be working alongside a team she loves, affectionately referring to full-timers Trisha and Paula as a phenomenal shining star and work soulmate respectively.

Stephanie shared that another highlight for her is being on stage, moderating panels and interviewing people for GITNB’s weekly TV show. “Conscious-preneurs”, available on GITNB’s website, showcases entrepreneurs around the region whose business practices are aligned with sustainability.

“Getting to meet people, hearing and sharing their stories and connecting them with others – that’s what lights me up.”

When asked about the best event she’s been to so far, Stephanie quipped without hesitation: “Green is the New Black is amazing, obviously”. She laughed and shared that another festival she enjoyed was the Wonderfruit Festival in Bangkok. The event targets sustainability and attendees can party all night and do yoga and meditation in the morning, followed by attending talks.

Stephanie’s love for organising events could possible stem from her family’s influence as she shared that they throw awesome parties where everyone is up till 4am dancing together. Her party must-haves? Alcohol and music.

_DSC1349Stephanie enjoys travelling and her shelves are adorned with little knick knacks that she picked up from her travels. montage2Right: A décor piece from Agatha’s installation at a previous GITNB festival. It was made from upcycled clothes scraps and she was attracted to it for its vibrant burst of colours._DSC1339Moving forward, she plans to bring GITNB to a regional scale. Besides being held in Singapore next October, the festival will also make its debut in Hong Kong in April 2018. In the meantime, the team will continue rolling out campaigns and content on their online platform.

“We really want to become a hub where people can come and discover brands, learn about conscious living and connect with other like-minded people on a regional level. It’s about empowerment and how easy it is to create change and to make a difference with the power of numbers.”

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