An Interview with Mandy den Uijl

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Tell us about yourself – family background, personal story, education, and previous professional capacities.

I was born in 1984 in the Netherlands and was brought up in the South. I come from a family of five, I have two younger sisters. My parents got divorced when I was 17 and they are both happy with their new partners. I’m married to graphic designer Sjoerd and we have a 2 year old son, Logan.

I studied Cultural Heritage and majored in Museology at the Reinwardt Academy in Amsterdam. Due to my battles with depression I’ve never gotten around to get my degree. When our son is older I’m planning to go back to school and learn for a Bachelor degree. After college I worked for an Interior designer, a city developer and right now I’m working as an information officer at a local university.

What is the importance of ethical fashion?

I think it’s important that people know the story behind their clothes. There’s so much unfairness going on in most of the clothing factories where (fast) fashion is produced. Being aware of what you wearing is the first step. Find out how your favorite brands treat the workers in their, mostly abroad, factories. Ask for transparency, open your eyes even though it’s all happening far from where you’re living.

What is the importance of sustainable fashion?

 With global temperature and sea levels rising sustainability is high on the political agenda. Producing clothes consumes energy, water, materials and causes pollution. You can choose to go on a low car diet or eat organic but what about your clothes? You can choose to buy organic cotton, secondhand or upcycled. We don’t need half of the clothes that are lying in our closets. I’m trying to reduce my wardrobe little by little till I only have the garments left that I love to wear, fit me well and last.

What about fair trade?

I think the workers in the factories where my clothes are produced need to earn enough to manage their basic expenses. I’ve read so many stories about women who are working as seamstresses struggling to get by. Is it worth to wear a $ 6 – t-shirt when it’s being produced in an unfair way?

What is MomMandy?

MomMandy’s a blog written by a 30-something first time mom. On the blog you can find articles about how she’s trying to balance parenting, work and me time.

What makes MomMandy unique?

What makes the blog unique is that MomMandy opens up about struggling with depression but also emphasizing on the beauty and happiness in meaningful little things. I think the mix between personal stories and everyday subjects like gardening and beauty is appalling to MomMandy’s readers.

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You write about having a toddler and balance. What are the key lessons about raising a toddler and achieving balance?

My husband and I take turns in having time on our own. For example if Logan wakes up at 6 PM on a saturday one of us gets up while the other gets another hour or 2 of sleep. We take turns in going to the gym while one of us stays home. I try to meet with one of my friends weekly to have some time for myself and enjoy talking about other things then the usuals parenting stuff while enjoying a nice cup of coffee. And of course scheduling in a date night every now and then is essential.

We are blessed to have both of our moms living close by. They both love to baby sit Logan. And if they are busy I also have my 2 younger sisters as back up sitters.

You work as an information officer as a university. What tasks and responsibilities come with this position?

I’m working as an information officer till August 31st but I’m also working towards a new job. Right now my tasks are comparable with those of a librarian. I help students and teachers find books and other informative materials.

You battled depression. What are the symptoms?

Depression is an awful state to be in. What I’ve learned to recognize as symptoms are:

  • Not wanting to meet and socialize with other people
  • Losing interest in the activities that I enjoy
  • Having a lot of negative thoughts and sometimes even thinking about death
  • Losing my temper more easily
  • Rising level of anxiety
  • Feeling tired
  • Not being able to see the beauty in little things

What are remedies recommended by medical professionals?

Talking to a professional about your problems is the best way to start. A therapist can help you find out where the origin of your depression lies. If talking is hard to do you can also resort to creative therapy. There is also no shame in taking anti depressants. Sometimes your body doesn’t produce enough neurotransmitters and medication can help restore the balance.

What was the story behind your own depression?

My depression was triggered by my upbringing in my childhood. My parents didn’t have a good marriage and as a sensitive person I was always aware of the tension and an unsafe feeling in the house. I think my parents did what they thought was right in my sister’s and my upbringing. But for me it wasn’t. Depression is also a common illness in our family so my genes also played a part.

This doesn’t mean that if someone in your family is depressed you are likely to get depressed too. But when you are living in less than ideal circumstances you are more sensitive to developing one.

What other work are you involved in at this point in time?

I’m focusing on connecting with other bloggers to collaborate and work together with. Being creative is also an important thing in my life. It helps me transform negativity into positivity. I like to write poetry and paint.

What meaning or personal fulfillment does this work bring for you?

Expressing my feelings in a creative way is an essential part of my life. I’m not much of a talker so colors, textures and the written word help me to let it all out. Same goes for sports. I try to work out 3 times a week. This helps me connect with my body and develop strength and stamina to have more energy in my day to day life.

With regard to ethical and sustainable fashion companies, what’s the importance of them to you?

It just feels better wearing garments produced in an ethical and sustainable manner. It’s true that these kind of clothes are more expensive. I like to buy second hand, wear hand me downs from my sisters and occasionally browse for sustainable brands during sales.

People can connect via Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest. Any feelings or thoughts in conclusion?

I hope that especially the younger generation get’s more aware of sustainable and ethical fashion. The ‘movement’ is growing though. If we keep spreading the word and become sustainable and ethical consumers eventually the companies have to rework their strategies is they want the awareness generation to remain customers.

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About the Author

Scott Douglas Jacobsen researches and presents independent panels, papers, and posters, and with varied research labs and groups, and part-time in landscaping and gardening, and runs In-Sight Publishing and In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal.

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