Venetia La Manna is a podcaster, fair fashion campaigner, and co-founder of Remember Who Made Them which helps to energise a new solidarity economy in fashion. Her 5 star rated podcast series All The Small Things aims to encourage greater attention to the present moment and the smaller things in life. Guest highlights include Rina Sawayama, Paris Lees, and Candice Brathwaite. Venetia is passionate about sustainability and slow living and is a UK ambassador for REN Clean Skincare.
What does an average day in the world of Venetia look like?
I very recently moved to the countryside so currently, it starts with feelings of disorientation and disbelief that I no longer start my days with the sounds of the city! I also have some very friendly cows who like to pass my front door on their morning commute, so there are usually some excited squeals from my end thrown in for good measure. I like to meditate in the morning, do a 10-minute stretch and then go for a walk or run. Then it’s home for a shower, coffee, breakfast, and then I’ll work until about 6 pm (taking a break for lunch), tidy up while Max cooks, perhaps take another short walk to get to know our new area, then dinner, tea, chocolate, and telly.
Meditation is a practice you talk about in your YouTube videos. For me, meditation is going for a walk with some music in my ears lost to the world. What does meditation look like for you and how do you incorporate it into your daily life?
About 5 years ago I did a Vedic meditation course with The London Meditation Centre. They teach this ancient practice but make it accessible for modern life. It’s a simple practice that involves a personalised mantra and aims to create more awareness of the present moment. Ideally, it involves two 20 minute sessions, one in the morning and one in the afternoon, but I have only managed to fit in the first to my routine.
I love how you describe mediation Naf, as I completely agree, you can incorporate a mindful practice into any solo activity during the day.
I noticed you are also the proud owner of a Blue Peter badge. Tell us more.
Haha!! Yes! I won one aged 7 when I submitted a (frankly not brilliant) drawing to the show and they sent me a badge. My career peaked!
What inspired you to start a podcast?
Well firstly, I’m a huge podcast fan. I’ve found them incredibly soothing, comforting, and helpful during my own moments of anxiety and self doubt. Secondly, I love interviewing people. I used to work in TV as a producer and later as a presenter during which time I did a lot of it. That’s not to say I’m an expert, which is also why I love it, as it’s a skill that I’m forever developing. I love chatting to inspiring people to learn from them and incorporate some of my learnings into my own life as I go, with the hope that my listeners can feel comforted and gain from the conversations too.
You have such a natural interview style, what top three tips would you give someone new to the world of presenting and interviewing?
That’s very kind, thank you. I would say start by doing your research and go into the interview with as much knowledge about the person as you can. It’s always helpful to have someone who can read over your questions before the interview too. And then probably the most important one is to listen. Listen to what the person is saying rather than fixating on your questions, as that’s how to achieve a conversation that flows, which is much more engaging for the listener.
I’ve found it incredibly helpful for my mental health. We’re not built to be “always-on” and we’re certainly not equipped to spend all of our time with our devices, so it’s a way to help me rest and also remember what’s important in life – and that’s REAL life! (Offline 48 is the practice Venetia and Max call the time they away from their phones – Usually every weekend but can often be expanded)
How can people get involved and do their own version of Offline 48?
If you’re someone who feels they probably spend a little too much time online, start by leaving your phone out of your bedroom so you don’t wake up or go to sleep with it, or start scrolling if you wake up in the middle of the night! If you need an alarm, try an old alarm clock. Then just try to practice more consciousness when you do reach for it. Are you reaching for your phone because you actually need to call or text someone? Or are you reaching for it out of habit?
I have learned a lot about fast fashion and the damage it can cause through your content. What is one thing we can do today to become more conscious consumers?
Huge question! I think it’s to try and think more critically about the chain of events that lead a piece of clothing to a shop or your front door before you buy it. Learning about the fashion industry and fashion supply chains has reminded me just how connected we are, not only to each other but also to the planet and its finite resources.
With that said, I think it’s also important to remember that it’s the top 100 most polluting companies, billionaires, and big fashion CEOs that are causing the breakdown of our planet. Of course, individual actions on a collective level are important but don’t weigh yourself down with guilt if you can’t be a conscious consumer all of the time (spoiler alert: under capitalism, it’s impossible to be so!!)
Time and money are often things that deter others from making more conscious fashion choices. How can we ensure we are making better consumer choices without having to worry about this?
Yesss this is so important. True sustainability and conscious consumption is all about making the most of what you already own and buying less. You don’t need to spend hours scouring expensive websites and spending loads of money on so-called sustainable pieces. Start by celebrating the clothes you already have and treasure those pieces for as long as you can.
You co-founded the initiative, Remember Who Made Them focusing on the individuals who produce our clothes. Why was this important for you to set up?
I co-founded the campaign with Swatee Deepak, Devi Leiper O’Malley, and Ruby Johnson who are incredible feminists in the social justice and global development space because we felt that garment workers needed to be at the front and centre of the conversation.
Garment workers are continually forgotten in the sustainable fashion movement, yet they are the ones who are constantly campaigning for a better industry. We cannot have sustainability without ethics, and as big fashion continues to greenwash us with ridiculous marketing campaigns about their new recycled range, we have to remember the people who made those clothes, most of whom aren’t paid fair living wages. If it’s not sustainable for the person who made the t-shirt, then it’s not sustainable for the person wearing the t-shirt.
Which three books and podcasts would you encourage others to read if they were interested in slow fashion?
Podcasts: Remember Who Made Them, Manufactured, Mothers of Invention
Books: No Logo by Naomi Klein, Fashionopolis by Dana Thomas, and pre-order Aja Barber’s forthcoming book “Consumed”!
Name three desert items you cannot live without
SPF. A good book. And I’d like Max to be with me ideally so I have some company!
What do you do to live a fulfilled life?
I try to live each day with intention and gratitude.