In Episode 5 of the People Heart Planet Podcast and Interview Series, we talk with fellow ethical consumer and entrepreneur Amanda Kelley about the highs and lows of sustainable living and what it means to live with intention.

Amanda is a Designer and Creative Director with a passion for animals, nature, and our planet Earth. During the day she is on a brand team for a global vet-tech company. By evening, she is hard at work on her passion project - Of Intention. Of Intention is an online intentional and sustainable-living boutique and lifestyle brand. She lives in Massachusetts with her husband and two boys, who have been the source of her motivation and inspiration to live more sustainably and intentionally. She loves spending her free time going on adventures with her family and watching her kids learn, grow and experience new things.

To discover and shop fair trade and sustainable products, check out: www.peopleheartplanet.com and www.ofintention.com

For audio only, you can listen on Apple PodcastsSpotify and Amazon Music.

Deven Nelson: Hi people and planet lovers! On today's episode of the People Heart Planet Podcast, we are talking with Amanda Kelly. Amanda is a designer and creative director with a passion for animals, nature and our planet Earth. During the day, she's on a brand team for a global vet tech company. But by night, she is hard at work on her passion project—Of Intention. Of Intention is an online intentional and sustainable living boutique and lifestyle brand. She lives in Massachusetts with her husband and two boys, who have been the source of her motivation and inspiration to live more intentionally and sustainably. She loves spending her free time going on adventures with her family and watching her kids learn, grow and experience new things. We hope you're inspired by this conversation today. Have a listen and know that your story can inspire others, too. Hi, Amanda, I'm so glad to have you with us today.

 

Amanda Kelley: Hi, thank you for having me.

 

Deven Nelson: Let’s jump into the first question. Why did you launch the Intentional Heart? And tell us about Of Intention.

 

Amanda Kelley: When I was pregnant with my first child, which was seven years ago, I started making more serious lifestyle changes. I was bringing a kid into this world, so I thought I better set them up for success, and not just financially but also in terms of how to be happy and how to manage life. And I thought I should probably do that for myself first. I dove into listening to podcasts. I started listening to The Minimalists, and then reading books about minimalism. Leading a greener lifestyle has always been part of me, but this sort of fueled the passion, I guess. It's been a journey ever since. The last year is the first time I really focused on it. That's when I started the Intentional Heart Instagram account out of a desire to focus my energy into something positive. I feel like we've had a very crazy few years, and it's been a roller coaster ride of emotions. We've all been through a lot. I spent a lot of time on social media reading horrible things but then also really positive and nice things. I wanted to be part of that positive community. And I felt like, I had things to say, and I wanted to inspire and continue to be inspired by people and meet like-minded people. I started the account not really knowing what was going to happen, honestly. I thought, I’m just going to do this because, why not? I started meeting really great people. At the same time, I was designing T-shirts for my boys. I have a design background, so I love designing funny things for their shirts. I would go on Etsy sometimes and look and there weren’t many organic material options. I was trying to make intentional purchases, but I couldn't find what I was looking for. So that's kind of what started the business side of things. My shop is called Of Intention. I started with T-shirts that I designed using organic cotton, and then it just kind of spiraled. I started learning how to source products, and I realized I could have more things in my shop. I was finding all this stuff that I had looked for in the past. If I were to start this journey all over again, it would be so much easier if it was all in one shop, so that’s what I created. I don’t have everything on the site. Like clothes are a big can of worms. I have the clothes that I design. You know, as your shop has a lot of clothes, it's hard to navigate that space. I'm certainly not all the way to where I want to be yet, but I've really enjoyed trying products, finding products, either liking them or not liking them and then sharing them with people.

 

Deven Nelson: We always say that we're not about competition, because the world needs more of these products and more of these resources. We're all about collaboration. I love that that's exactly the way you were thinking. You thought, how can I share what I've learned and share my resources and my story? And it's just all about community building and networking. Because we all do better when we all do better.

 

Amanda Kelley: Exactly. I'm the same way. I have a full-time job, so this is not my livelihood. I love meeting people who are doing the same thing and sharing ideas. I’m hopefully inspiring other people. I try to inspire my friends and family. They know me and know what I'm about. I don't judge at all. I don't say anything to anyone. I don't want to be that person. But if I could just inspire more people then that's what I want to do. That's the whole goal.

 

Deven Nelson: It is such a journey, right? It's just sort of one swap at a time, and then it's totally exponential, because as soon as you start, you're having so much more fun. I totally related to what you were saying about how there is a place for anger and frustration, maybe a little bit of despair, or whatever people are feeling, even grief. There are so many heavy things that we're dealing with in the world. But balance is the key, right? Maithreyi and I were thinking along the same lines in terms of what we can do that is positive, not only because putting positive out into the world is a good thing, and adding these resources is great, but because we needed it for our own selves. I felt like if I didn't start finding joy in this journey then I was going to be miserable, and I didn't want to live that way. I know to some people this all sounds sort of silly. I've been told it can be kind of idealistic. I don't think it is idealistic to believe that we can shift to a fairer economy. I mean, it's what the whole B Corp or B Lab movement is built on, right? There's nothing wrong with making a profit. Your business can make a profit. We're doing this to make a profit. It's how you make a profit that matters. Are you making a profit that you can really be proud of because you're also respecting people and the planet?

 

Amanda Kelley: Right

 

Deven Nelson: The other thing that I want to follow up on is what you said about starting from the perspective of looking at your finances, because I hadn't really considered that ever before. But, you know, money is an expression of our values. And of course, it's something that we're all thinking about all the time. You know, we don't want to be driven and controlled by it, but you have to manage it. I love that this journey for you started by looking at your own personal finances, and it led you to think about how you want to use this money, and then creating a business to help others use their money more wisely too. That's so awesome.

 

Amanda Kelley: Oh, thank you. It's just kind of what happened. One of the podcasts I listened to was Dave Ramsey. I don't love him, necessarily, but what he taught was really valuable to me. And I think he called it the Every Dollar app, it basically helps you to see that every dollar you have goes to something, right? You have to decide where it goes. Now I use the You Need a Budget app, and it's basically the same thinking. You take your money and you give it a home, whether it's savings, or your electric bill, or the purchase of a new organic cotton dress. You need to decide where your money goes. That's not how I was living before. Money was just flying out everywhere, and I didn't know where it was going. Step one for me was figuring out where my money was going. Then I started to think that if I'm going to spend money on something, it better be good. Like, it better be like something that is not going to hurt the planet, something that's going to last and something that I really love. This way of thinking really tied into minimalism for me. I wanted to get rid of all the excess stuff that I don't want or need or find value in and or love. Once you do that, you start to live like anything that comes into your house has to be made well and be something you’re going to use. That was my journey. I'm not perfect, at all. But that was the process for me. And with having my shop, it was way for me to have a place where I could showcase things that people can feel good about buying.

 

Deven Nelson: Oh, my gosh, it's so true. Every time you go into your closet or open a drawer, you see something that makes you think: Why did I buy this? I don't really want to use it. It doesn't work the way I wanted it to. You kind of get frustrated and you have thrown money away on it. Eventually, it's going to take your time to be donating it somewhere and then when someone ends up throwing it away it just ends up in a landfill. Dave Ramsey has been such an awesome resource for so many people. I haven't used it. But I have heard from people who have gotten out of debt and it helped them totally rethink how they use their finances. And it's exactly like you say, his message isn't necessarily about sustainability or minimalism, but those themes are there. Slowing down. Thinking about your budget before you buy. And then you can take it a step further and realize that when you’re giving it to someone else, then it becomes a home for them. You can ask yourself: What am I enriching? Am I enriching things that I want to keep putting out into the world? Or are they putting crap out in the world that I just don't really want to be a part of?

 

Amanda Kelley: Yeah, absolutely. I know, oh, my gosh, the conversation is opening a huge can of worms, right? And then when you think about all the companies that give your money to, you ask yourself—Oh, God, what did I do?

 

Deven Nelson: Yeah. You and I both realized that we care about these things, and we had the time to do some research about companies and then put these resources out there for somebody else to use. Like the nurse who's busy taking care of us, or the doctor, and the teacher, the person mowing the lawn. People who are doing all these other jobs are really busy during the day, and they aren't going to be able to sit down in front of their computer and research 100 brands. People are doing work that makes my life easier and better. Giving people these shopping resources is a way of giving back to them. It's such a community endeavor. It’s an interconnected way of thinking about the world. And it's so much better.

 

Amanda Kelley: Yeah, it's a fun way to live.

 

Deven Nelson: So, you've kind of already answered this, but I do want to ask the question. Obviously, intention is really important to you. Intention is a word that we hear a lot lately, like living with intention. How do you feel that idea has changed for you over time? Obviously, you've talked about what having kids has meant to you. But when you reflect on what that word meant to you earlier in life, what was it? And what does it mean now?

 

Amanda Kelley: Good question. Living with intention for me is really about taking responsibility for what's happening to me and making changes to my life to direct where I want to go. That has changed over the course of time just because life changes. It’s not just about living sustainably. There's more to it. I love traveling, and I love experiencing thing with things with my kids. Part of that is making sure a chunk of my savings goes towards traveling and actually planning trips. You can just live life and go through the motions every day. I have done that in the past. You’re just spending money on whatever, like, you don't even know. Once you actually focus and make intentional decisions, for example deciding that a percentage of my paycheck is going to go to a particular trip. For me, a lot of it has to do with my children, because it’s just my life right now. But it could be anything. I love live music. I could say I really want to see this person in concert, but am I really going to go online and buy those tickets?

 

Deven Nelson: Yes, absolutely. I actually just bought tickets to a comedy show. I haven't done that in years. Doing that reminded me of other ways I can bring joy into my life. Living with intention and bringing joy into our lives is multifaceted for all of us.

 

Amanda Kelley: Yeah. That’s why my Instagram account is all over the place. It’s all about intentional decisions. Living sustainably is a huge part of it, but it’s not the only thing. Another example is I make sure I book a babysitter once a month so my husband and I can go out on a date. We didn't always do that. That's new as of last year.

 

Deven Nelson: I love that you post about more than sustainability because sustainability is part of living a whole life, which means that we're not perfectly sustainable all the time. Right?

 

Amanda Kelley: That's absolutely true. It's impossible to be.

 

Deven Nelson: Especially in this system. We can focus on our individual lives and what we can do to make changes, but then if the system keeps making it harder, those changes aren’t going to work. So then we have to focus on making systems change. But it’s about balance. You can't spend all of your time on systems change. I hear folks saying that there's no point in individuals doing anything because change needs to happen at the macro level. It drives me crazy.  We have to help shift culture if there’s going to be systems change. People aren't going to wake up and say, oh, okay, that's fine. Everything changed from above. Now I'll do it that way. That's not how it's going to work. Right? It has to be everything all at once—individual changes and systems changes. What advice would you give to people who are trying to live more sustainably?

 

Amanda Kelley: My biggest piece of advice is do it one baby step at a time, because if you go too hard, and all in at once, you're never going to survive. It’s all about forming new habits. Make one change maybe once a month or even every couple of months. The changes have to become part of your daily thinking and daily habits. I always go back to the peanut butter jar. Cleaning out a peanut butter jar is the most annoying thing ever, right? But it's actually so easy. I have this conversation with my husband all the time because he is he's very minimalist but he's not as green as I am. We have conversations about convenience. Living sustainably takes a little bit more time. You need to wash out the peanut butter jar, and then recycle it. I use a powder dishwasher soap. I just scoop it. My husband wants to squirt a bottle. I say that it’s not that much more time or effort to scoop it. He's like, I don't want to do that. It’s all those little things that you just have to get into the habit of doing. It doesn't feel like a big deal one at a time, but if you change all the things in your life at once, you're never going to sustain that.

 

Deven Nelson: You're totally telling a hard truth right there. Living sustainably does take more effort. It's not going to be quite as convenient, which is sort of a challenge in the time we're living in. We’re trying to push off its consequences. More of us need to realize that there won't be anywhere put the plastic. How big of a space are we going to dedicate in the world to contain all of our waste?

 

Amanda Kelley: Where do people think it’s going to go? It's in our blood now. I feel like if you make little changes here and there, all of a sudden, you'll look at what you have done and be pleasantly surprised by how much plastic you're not using. One night we had a babysitter. She had pizza that she was trying to wrap up and save for the kids. And she's like, you don't have any plastic wrap or tin foil. I was like, oh, yeah, that is weird for you. But it's gotten to be such a habit for us that it’s normal now. But it takes time. Two years ago, I couldn't have said. It takes time. You just have to make little changes over time.

 

Deven Nelson: I had a plumber here and he asked me for a Ziploc bag. I didn’t have one. Even though I needed to keep something sterile so it would have been helpful in that moment, I don’t keep them in the house because I'm still developing that habit, and I don’t trust myself yet to not overuse them. At some point I’ll be able to keep one box. It’s such a process.

 

Amanda Kelley: Yeah, it is. You have to figure it out for yourself. My dad always puts tinfoil over things to heat them in the oven. We just don't do that. My brother caught a fish, and he came to my house and was looking for a Ziploc bag. And I was like, I'm sorry, I just don't have one. I have reusable ones. I gave him a Pyrex. It was fine. It just wasn't the disposable thing that he was thinking of.

 

Deven Nelson: I'm sure for you it's about what you want to teach your kids, right, because I think we're finally waking up to the fact that we've made our kids’ lives too convenient. We don't really want them to have these values that you live in a disposable world and everything should be super easy and things don't have consequences. We want them to realize that the planet they're inheriting needs to be taken care of.

 

Amanda Kelley: Yeah, that's a big part of this for me. Engraining it into them. They still have convenient things for sure, like little applesauce cups. We still haven't gotten away from those. We use reusable bags, so they're used to that. They don't get bags of chips. I put chips in a reusable bag for them. They're hilarious. They are like trash-picker-uppers, almost to a fault. We will be at a place where we're not prepared to pick up trash. No gloves. No bags. It just happened this morning. My son picked up this used medical thing.

 

Deven Nelson: Well, that's great. It's funny! I can't get rid of the applesauce pouches and Once Upon a Farm pouches. The food is great, but I'm like, oh, man, I don’t want to throw these away every day.

 

Amanda Kelley: It’s the power of convenience, right? You can buy the reusable.

 

Deven Nelson: I did buy them, but I cannot keep up with making her a bunch of fruit and veggie puree. I just can't do it. I don't have time. So what do I do then? Do I pay somebody who does have time and is willing to put them in a bunch of reusable pouches? I don't know where that person is? And that seems kind of weird! I mean, I'm all about paying for a service done by someone else if it's building up their business because I need time to do my service and build up my business, so it’s a win-win. I would rather give my money to someone who is doing some quirky like little thing instead of a big box store, but that one doesn't seem realistic.

 

Amanda Kelley: The other example I have is that I love guacamole, but no one else in my family eats it. I buy the little containers of it. If I make guacamole, it's not going to get eaten. It goes brown so fast. I need to figure that out. Again, baby steps. I'm not there yet.

 

Deven Nelson: And we all have that list, right? No shame or blame around that. Can you imagine what the world would look like if everyone had their own short list? And we were all doing a whole bunch of other things to be more sustainable?

 

Amanda Kelley: Yeah, it would be so much better even if everyone changed a few things.

 

Deven Nelson: Your business prioritizes sustainability. I'm sure you're thinking about fair trade as well, in terms of how people are being treated. Obviously not every brand can do both. How do you balance those issues?

 

Amanda Kelley: I lead with sustainability, and then fair trade second. There are brands out there that do it all, which is wonderful. I love those brands, but it's not always the case.

 

Deven Nelson: The reality is when it comes to a product, like something I'm going to wear or something I'm going to use in my house, the most important thing is that I have to like it. I may not end up actually buying something that matches 100% what I care about. I might buy something from a fair trade business that isn’t 100% sustainable. But that’s so much better than the mainstream alternative. People ask us all of the time—How can you really tell the difference between a brand that cares about people and the planet versus a brand that is mainstream? You can tell! Read their website. It’s plain as day. A sustainable product is not the same thing as a business model that is actually working really hard at sustainability. What are your favorite brands and products?

 

Amanda Kelley: Good question. Oh gosh, where do I begin? There are too many. For clothes, I really like Pact. They have a lot of staples. They use organic cotton. I buy a lot of basic tees and leggings and underwear.

 

Deven Nelson: Pact is a great brand.

 

Amanda Kelley: I use the stuff from my own shop. I actually have partnerships with a lot of makers around here that have similar values to me. I use beauty products that have glass containers and organic ingredients.

 

Deven Nelson: We'll definitely link to your shop so people can see all the brands because it’s obviously full of your favorites. I love that they're local to you.

 

Amanda Kelley: Yeah, they're local to New England, which you know is pretty small.

 

Deven Nelson: Yeah, so last question. Yeah, our motto is—Love people. Love the planet. Do you think love is part of why you do what you do? Or what is your deep motivation?

 

Amanda Kelley: Oh, definitely. I mean, love for my children and wanting to leave the world in a better place for them. Love for the planet. I've always loved nature. It’s really sad when you see pictures of skinny polar bears and all of the trash in the ocean. It's just really depressing when you get a glimpse of what’s happening. Yes, love for my children and love the world is what motivates me. It sounds cheesy!

 

Deven Nelson: We wondered if the love message sounded too cheesy, but then realized that this is it. It’s about love. Everyone we've met says that love is the driving force that makes them do these things, even when it’s hard. Lean into love, and the joy you get from the process is so much greater than the burden of it. Thanks for being with us today, Amanda!

 

Amanda Kelley: Yeah, of course. Thanks for having me. This was really fun.

 

Deven Nelson: Thanks for listening to this episode of the People Heart Planet Podcast. Our motto is: Love people. Love the planet. We hope that after listening today, you feel even more inspired to show your love for people in the planet. The ethical consumer journey is different for all of us. But what we have in common is that we are all motivated by love. For more inspiration, follow us on Instagram or Facebook @peopleheartplanet.

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