Ara the altar
earth-aware adornment for the everyday
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Letters of Ara

An online journal & e-mail newsletter in which to explore areas of interest and influence for Ara the altar.

Slowing Down with Sarah of CONSIDERED Magazine

Image taken during my stay at    Porteous Studio    in Edinburgh

Image taken during my stay at Porteous Studio in Edinburgh

In response to the ‘on demand’ culture of the fast-paced, digital world in which we now live, it’s easy to develop a heightened level of expectation concerning content consumption. For some, me included, the eternal stream of content that we are presented with -or subjected to- can feel overwhelming. I genuinely love the community of digital platforms such as Instagram that have introduced me to so many other like-minded individuals and encouraged purposeful, positive experiences. Yet, always in search of balance, I also really value taking some time to truly absorb myself in a physical publication of interest, and to enjoy the slower speed of consumption that print media permits. 

A timely antidote for fast paced digital consumption, CONSIDERED Magazine is an independently published, bi-annual print magazine exploring sustainable lifestyle, thoughtful design and mindful travel. Aiming to raise awareness of and encourage discussion around sustainability issues from an environmental, social and economic perspective, CONSIDERED is a brand that I resonated with straight away and I could not wait for the release of its first publication. I picked up my copy of volume 1 from the lovely folk at Rare Mags (a local independent store selling, you guessed it, rare magazines). The book itself is a thing of beauty and, fittingly, consideration for the magazine’s impact runs deeper than its title; each copy has been printed and bound locally to me in North West England, on 100 pages of unbleached, FSC certified paper with vegetable based ink. 

This is such a special publication featuring the perfect balance of informative, exploratory and inspiring content all woven together with beautifully captured imagery. Topics explored in volume 1 include lesser explored everyday sustainability, considered exploration to Almeria, Manchester, Belfast and the Causeway Coast, a considered style directory, carbon responsibility, and the concept of ‘Slow Art’. In her letter, CONSIDERED Editor and Founder, Sarah Marie Vera shares an insight into a part of her upbringing which instilled the value of being grateful for what she had, and being mindful of the effort and energy involved in creating things. I think this is such an important point to consider, particularly at a time when, as a society, we have become so detached from how and where our products are made. This often leads to products that are made with ethical and sustainable consideration appearing expensive in comparison. Seeing an awareness for -and addressing of- these kind of issues, particularly in a print publication, is hopefully indicative of a shift in the public perception of value and the time for effective change. 

It is such a treat to sit and pour through this book, not least because I stumbled upon a mention of Ara the altar whilst reading it (the loveliest of surprises). Regardless of this little cherry on top of the magazine pie, CONSIDERED is something I knew I had to share and wanted to learn more about, so I was over the moon when Sarah agreed to an interview for the Slow chapter of Letters of Ara. I am so grateful to Sarah for taking the time to explore her work with me today, and for including Ara the altar in the first volume - it’s one I’ll treasure forever. 

Ara the altar - Considered cover

Sarah - first of all, congratulations on the launch of volume I. To begin, I’d love to hear a little more about you and what led to the concept for CONSIDERED Magazine.

Thank you so much! I guess that due to my modest upbringing, I’ve always had a level respect for taking care of what we have and not being wasteful – this attitude extended to food, clothing and items in general and stuck with me into adulthood. When I was very young (around 4/5 years old) I decided that I didn’t want to eat meat and I think this also took me down a path of awareness and questioning.  Then around 6 or 7 years ago I became a little disillusioned with our ‘typical’ way of life – I was working longer hours than I would’ve liked to, becoming tired of over-consumption and feeling like I wasn’t embracing the creative side of my personality enough so I set about making small changes to my life, such as cutting back on unnecessary spending and thinking about how I would like to express myself creatively. I bought myself a DSLR and began experimenting with photography, writing, exploring sustainability and minimalism and this led me to the idea for CONSIDERED Magazin

Why was it important for you to produce CONSIDERED Magazine in print?

Initially I toyed with the idea of CONSIDERED being a digital magazine / email newsletter but this felt restrictive in delivering the message and experience I wanted readers to have.  I’ve always enjoyed magazines and the experience of feeling immersed in an article or photo coupled with the feel of the texture of the pages, the sound of the pages being turned and smell of the fresh print.  I wanted to produce something that was inspiring in imagery and context but also provided an escape for the reader, an opportunity to slow down and digest the content without use of a screen which we use all too often in modern day life.  I love magazines such as Kinfolk and Cereal and look forward to a slow morning or evening reading them with a hot drink and ‘switching off’ from everyday life for an hour or so. I wanted to do the same with CONSIDERED where the subject matter was sustainability and mindfulness.

Ara the altar - Considered Mag - Considered Places

When working on the magazine, how do you determine the areas you would like to explore for a publication, and with this being a bi-annual publication, how do you go about your planning?

Good question! For Volume 1 this was somewhat easy for me as I approached the first magazine as a personal project in a way. I selected topics and places that were of interest to me or close to my heart.  In the ‘CONSIDERED Places’ chapter of Volume 1, I wanted to showcase Belfast and the Causeway Coast - which is where I grew up, Manchester - which is my current home and a yoga retreat in Almería which was my Summer holiday the previous year where I took part in the yoga retreat but also experimented with photography and writing whilst there.  In terms of sustainability, I knew that sustainable fashion would be a big part of the magazine given my own journey on this front and the inherit pollution and unethical practice of the current fast fashion model.  Mindfulness was also a theme I wanted to explore and found that this linked quite well with art hence the ‘Slow Art’ and ‘Mindfulness and Art’ articles.  I wanted the magazine to be appealing and inspiring to those already familiar with slow living and sustainable lifestyle but also those that are maybe less informed, and with that I wanted to offer a mix of rich and in-depth content, for example the ‘What Carbon Counts’ article as well as lighter content such as the ‘Sustainable Swaps’ article.

For Volume 2 we (CONSIDERED intern, Joost and I) have started to plan the content.  As a starting point, I asked our followers on Instagram what they would like to see and this has determined the key themes which will be Sustainable Fashion, Sustainable Home and CONSIDERED Places, with other smaller chapters in between.  Again, the content will be a mix of in-depth and lighter reading and the imagery will be inspiring and emotive.  Lots of ideas already!

Can you share a little more about the community side of CONSIDERED?

Of course.  One of the things that was important to me was to utilise the magazine as a platform, not just to inform and inspire but to build a community of like-minded people.  Plans for the CONSIDERED Community are to create primarily offline but also online opportunities for those interested in a slower, more sustainable lifestyle to connect, learn and experience.  I also hope to have a CONSIDERED newsletter that goes out in-between print editions.  Time is very much being spent focussing on Volume 1 and 2 at the moment but watch this space for more on the community – we’ll be sharing updates via the Instagram page and anyone interested can register for the CONSIDERED Community via the website.

Ara the altar - Considered Mag - Sustainable Style

When working on CONSIDERED, what might a ‘typical’ day look like for you? 

Until very recently I had a full-time job outside of my CONSIDERED work so it was very much a careful juggling act whilst being mindful not to become overwhelmed.  As a freelancer (in my day job), I’ve taken some time out to focus on the magazine between work contracts and I have Joost working with me on an intern basis.

I’m still pretty new to this but I guess a typical day for me will differ depending on what stage of the magazine production I am at.  At the moment, a typical day is to check orders for Volume 1that are received through the site, then package and post these.  Then check my emails for any stockist orders / contributor queries and work through these. Then my focus switches to Volume 2 where Joost and I are planning the content / researching brands and contributors and generally gathering ideas as they come to us!  As we get into the detailed planning stages and development of the content I anticipate my day will be a little more structured.

What can we look forward to from CONSIDERED in the future? 

Mostly more of the same although I’m keen to keep pushing the content quality with each new volume. For example, in Volume 2 we will be shooting some exclusive editorial photography, something which wasn’t done for Volume 1.  I also hope to increase the page count of the magazine a little so that we’re giving more to the readers and where suitable, work with sustainable brands on a collaborative basis.  And of course, there’s the CONSIDERED community events – all being well we’ll hold one of these before the end of the year.

Considered Mag - The Under Label

Living a considered lifestyle yourself, what have you found to be your favourite or most purposeful way to minimise your own environmental impact?

Over the years I’ve made a number of small changes to my lifestyle that add up to a reduction on my overall environmental impact.  Being a vegetarian places less demand on planet, then there are the other small changes such as using a reusable cup for hot drinks and carrying my own bag to avoid plastic ones.  On the fashion front, I only buy clothes when I have a need for them and take good care of the clothes I already own to lengthen their life. When I do buy clothes I’m looking for ethical brands that pay fairly and look after their workers as well as using natural and where possible, organic fabrics and styles which stand the test of time.

Finally, what do you do to invite a little slowness or self-care into your everyday? 

I’m a big fan of slow mornings and little everyday rituals.  I find if I’m rushed in the morning it sets the scene for the rest of my day so I make time to organise myself the evening before, (i.e. what clothes I’m going to wear, what things I need to bring with me) so I can have a decent breakfast, enjoy some quiet time, perhaps do a short yoga session and allow myself to wake up gradually before I start the work elements of my day.  When I was in full-time work I requested a 9.30am start time so I could continue this way and luckily with the growing acceptance of flexible working arrangements I was granted this.  On the rituals front I love long baths, herbal tea, lighting candles or incense and reading.  I’m not a big TV fan so often find myself relaxing to music rather than the backdrop of a TV programme.   I try to maintain a healthy balance which isn’t always easy but over the years I’ve found that prioritising what is important to me helps me to better arrange my day in a way that supports my overall wellbeing.

Explore more & order CONSIDERED Magazine via the CONSIDERED website

Follow @consideredmag / @sarahmarievera on Instagram

Ara the altar - Considered Mag