Images by Abbylee Bonny.

We are really excited to introduce you to Abbylee. You may have seen her from time to time on our Instagram over the years, or you possibly follow her yourself.

One of the many reasons we love Abbylee is that she is a big advocate for the slow fashion movement and sustainable living.

She is a New Zealand based Mama and creative, enjoying a life well lived with less. Abbylee has just co-created a new website The Gut Healing Protocol focusing on recipes and tips which you can use in your everyday life to promote good gut health and general wellbeing.

We had a chat with Abbylee about what led her to focus on wellness and sustainable living, and she offered her insights and knowledge about the importance of gut health, conscious consumerism and the important factors she considers when purchasing clothing.

Tell us a little bit about your journey. What led you to focus on wellness, sustainable living and conscious consumerism?

It started a long time ago and has been a slow burn of continuous work. I think a big turning point for wellness and a slower pace of life was living in France for a summer and learning to cook with a wonderful woman, Marie Hugo. My partner (at the time) and I then spent a month in Thailand, our relationship was not a happy one but it really brought about a lot of personal growth and unleveled in just how worthy I felt I was of living a fulfilled joyous life.

I turned to practicing yoga for 4 hours a day as a way of self care and centering. I then returned to New Zealand to study Holistic Nutrition at Wellpark Natural Therapies College, and connected with an old girlfriend, Twyla, who played a big part in my growth. I think it was maybe 8 or so years ago, I had been doing a lot of personal development with Tony Robbins and in figuring out what I valued the most, opposed to what society was telling me to value, I realised there was a misalignment in my beliefs and values and the choicesI was making in regards to caring for myself, others and Mother Earth so I started to make intentional changes in how I was living.

How would you explain your personal style?

A girlfriend recently said to me, 'you don't follow trends' - and at first I was a little taken aback but after sitting with it for a moment I realised no, she is right I no longer follow 'trends' and trust me I used to be a massive player in fast fashion and consumerism 'trends'.

These days I like what I like and if tomorrow it's not considered 'cool' I'm comfortable with that which I actually feel really proud of. My personal style is comfortable, in my opinion timeless, relaxed and it's actually evolving - as I get older I'm feeling a bit more adventurous, I'm feeling a little bit sick of being boring/safe and I'm having fun fine tuning exactly how this translates to my wardrobe but I think my matching two piece houndstooth Louie Crop and Gloria Pant are on the ways to a bit more excitement in my life/wardrobe!

What are the important factors you consider when purchasing clothing?

I look at who has made it - are they working in a safe and fair environment and being paid well - ideally a living wage; where has the fabric been sourced; what the fabric is made of - I choose to wear natural fibres as they're breathable and also at the end of their (long lived life) are biodegradable unlike those synthetic/plastic materials; I think about how much I'll wear it and it's really important that it's fabulous quality, I buy less but buy quality with the intention of them being worn many times for years to come.

I don't buy on a whim, I remember I used to go shopping every Thursday (pay day) and some pieces I would end up throwing out with the tags still on because did I need it? No! Did I love it? No! Did I value the lives of the people who had made it? No. Heartbreaking but true and I know I am not alone in this. So now, now that I understand my worth, the worth of others and our planet, I no longer buy on a whim - sometimes I will ponder/save up for an item for months before actually making the purchase because then I know I'll treasure it.

Do you have any advice to people that are new to the slow fashion movement?

I'd love to remind you that you don't 'need' all the things 'they' tell you you do. I think often about consumerism and instagram and how absolutely wild this combination is. The push social media is constantly giving, to consume - it is relentless. All these accounts and people everyday pressing *more* and *new* and implying that we are not enough until we HAVE IT ALL. But this is a reminder that YOU ARE ENOUGH! That you 'need' far less than you think and far far less than you are constantly told you 'need'. Don't let someone else's greed for money and power tell you you are not enough, because you most definitely are - just as you are here and now. I truly believe that. Now this might feel like a bit of a strange way to answer this question but I believe in order to participate in the slow fashion movement we must first know our worth does not lay in our wardrobe and the things we own. Once we believe this we can start to be more mindful and considered about our choices because we are no longer buying to *fill a void* or *make ourselves better* - I've been there done that and it feels empty and as though you could never have enough because the consumerism is a symptom of not believing we are enough.

We are very excited to discover your new website,The Gut Healing Protocol, with the first eBook ‘Everyday Essentials’ to be released in August. Tell us more about it, and why looking after your gut health is so important.

Ah thank you so much - I'm SO excited. It's a project that's been in our minds for nearly two years now and it's fabulous seeing it actually come to life! Twyla, who I mentioned earlier, is a phenomenal Naturopath, Medical Herbalist and Nutritionist and has been my go-to health expert for many many years now. A couple of years ago while having fertility struggles and in a general state of dis-ease I'd learnt to live with (bloating/ fatigue/anxiety, to name a few) I did a gut healing protocol under Twyla's guidance and it was life changing. I know that's a massive call but it literally changed my life and after that I felt like sharing it with everyone, sharing her with everyone! So we've worked together to create our first release, 'Everyday Essentials', which consists of gut healing recipes and tips that you can incorporate into your life everyday as the first step in your gut healing journey - it's something I wish I had when doing my protocol and are recipes we have on high rotation in our homes. Next year we'll be launching the second step which is a full guided protocol with expert and community support.

To answer your question, I would say it's important to look after your gut health because it can change your life for better or for worse or as Twyla more articulately puts it, "The digestive tract is an incredibly important interface with our external environment. The information our bodies receive from what goes on in our gut, like the food we put in and the activity of the microbes that live there, can alter our brain chemistry, our immune function, our hormonal balance and so much more. Put simply, a healthy gut, functioning optimally, has the ability to affect every aspect of your health.”