Tolmeia - or Tolly Dolly Posh as she's known online - is determined to promote sustainability and ethical practices in the fashion world.
1. How did you get into blogging and using Instagram to promote your message?
I originally started blogging over 6 years ago as a summer project to merge my love of fashion and the digital world together. It started as a rather stereotypical fashion blog but after watching The True Cost documentary, after the devastating Rana Plaza garment factory collapse in 2013, I knew that I needed to use my platform for change, otherwise I would be blatantly ignoring the issues at hand that I played a part of.
My Instagram is just an extension of that but it has more recently grown into a major part of how I spread awareness about sustainable issues, especially after I was the face of Earth Day 2018 for Instagram's official flagship account, @instagram, which reaches more than 230 million of their users.
2. What are some of the key things you’ve learned in the process?
If you're going to stand for something, you have to really stick to your guns and be sure of yourself. Especially in the blogging world, where tempting opportunities arise fairly frequently, you need to be certain of what your message is and what you want to use your platform for. I'm really proud of the transition my blog and social media accounts have taken in terms of going from focusing on topics like fast-fashion trends to discussing exploitation and inequality within garment factories, and how we can all do our part to make a change.
3. What’s been the highlight of your work so far?
Engaging with my audience and hearing how they are starting to implement certain changes (that I may have spoken about) into their lives, or just generally having conversations with them about how they view certain topics. It's fascinating to hear people's different opinions and perspectives and to hear that there are so many people who are interested in trying to be better humans.
It was also a whirlwind experience to be featured by Instagram on Earth Day, as it was the biggest audience I'd been able to reach. I meant that I was reached by far more eco-conscious boys and men, which I'm glad of because I do believe the ethical fashion arena can often be very female-focused.
4. A lot of young people feel like they can’t do much when it comes to issues of climate and environment – what would you say to them?
It's important to understand that yes, systematic changes need to be made by governments and industries as a whole but whilst that is being worked on, we do have the power to influence and perhaps even speed up those changes happening. With fashion, for example, buying less and buying better is something that we can all do, even if it's very gradually. Just being aware that we can take control even in the smallest of ways is important and what we all need to embrace more of.
5. What’s your advice to children and young people who want to use digital media to talk about issues they care about?
Do it! Don't be afraid. Whether it be talking about the environment or talking about mental health, we need more voices, especially those of young people. Using these social tools for good is something we all have the power to do - it's literally at our fingertips - and if we want to continue making the internet and the online world a safer, more positive space, then we need to start doing it now. You never know who you might inspire!
6. How do you think decision makers, organizations, teachers and parents can support children and young people who want to create change in their communities?
It's vital that they listen. When you're younger, you can feel very intimidated about having these conversations with the fear of being shut down or not being taken seriously but we need these younger generations to feel empowered and accepted because they are the future. I often see articles speaking about Gen Z but I always wonder where the information came from - ask yourself if you're truly including young people within your conversations. Are you making the most of what we have to say? If not, try again! We're here and we're willing to talk.