How A Fashion Internship Changed My Shopping Habits

Illustrated by Alex Marino.
We don't just appreciate an inspired ensemble. We want to know the whole making-of story behind it. But in Style Roots, we're going one better. In partnership with Nordstrom Rack, this series will deep-dive into the real sartorial evolutions of seven city dwellers who all came from very different starts. Be it a streetwear OG or newbie vintage collector, we'll examine how past and present cultural, social, and career influences mold one's unique style persona.
Some of us have traveled thousands of miles for life-changing experiences. But make no mistake: A passport, plane ticket, or language barrier is not always required when it comes to learning the most meaningful lessons. For San Diego native Tresha Bautista, that proved to be the case when she took an internship in her hometown. Not only did it transform how she thinks about clothing, but it inspired her career in sustainable fashion, as well.

Bautista, who studied journalism and environmental science in college, credits her curriculum and hands-on work at an ethical e-commerce site with shaping her values. And what started as simply a change in her self-professed frivolous consumption habits (been there, done that) has evolved into a career where she puts the principles of recycling, repurposing, and rethinking fast fashion to practice.

Today, Bautista’s living in L.A. and has no immediate plans to go back to her old ways. "Experiencing [ethical clothing being made] on a daily basis has absolutely solidified my ideals on sustainability and my choice to purchase things for quality, not quantity," she says. Read on for more on how she learned to build a wardrobe that lasts.
Advertisement
Be sure to check out Nordstrom Rack's new store, opening October 21 in The Shops at La Jolla Village in La Jolla, CA. Get the details here.

1 of 5
Illustrated by Alex Marino.
When I think back on my past style...
"San Diego is very much a beach town. It's very laid back and kind of conservative, so I wore a lot of shorts, tank tops, and flip-flops when I was growing up. That was the uniform."

My whole outlook on style changed when...
"I went to school for journalism, and I also got a minor in environmental studies. While I was in school, I interned for an online shop that featured sustainable, ethical, and fair-trade clothing. From that experience, I learned about what really happens behind the scenes of the fashion industry — the scary truths about labor, dyes, fabrics, water waste, insecticides, and more. This is where I built all of my values."
2 of 5
Illustrated by Alex Marino.
My style didn't change overnight...
"I was wearing a lot of fast fashion in high school because of the cheap prices. There wasn't a specific moment in college when I decided to give up fast fashion for good. It was more of a process.

"I was buying anything trendy, all the time, because I wanted to be 'in style.' The closest thing I had to an epiphany came after reading an interview on sustainable style from my former boss at my internship. In her interview, she said, 'Buying fewer, higher-quality items is really the most sustainable thing we can do. So, my advice — splurge!' After that, I realized I aligned with her philosophy."
Advertisement
3 of 5
Illustrated by Alex Marino.
Now, my outlook on fashion is...
"I wear things that ultimately make me feel good because, when I'm confident in what I'm wearing, I naturally emit positive vibes. I don't care about impressing other people but rather wearing what's tried and tested to look good on my body."

What I look for when I shop...
"I don't look for anything specific; if I do, I'll be glued to my phone trying to figure out where something was made, who made it, if they received fair wages, where the materials came from, and how they were sourced. So as a rule of thumb, I buy clothes from brands that I already know and trust. As far as venturing out to try new brands, it helps when they're transparent about their business model, core values, and techniques upfront. I also click on a lot of 'About Us' pages to make more educated buying decisions."

Shop similar dresses.
4 of 5
Illustrated by Alex Marino.
I've carried my style values with me to L.A. because...
"I currently work at the headquarters of an ethical fashion company, so I see [sustainable clothing being made] before my eyes every day."

My three pieces of advice for building a forever wardrobe...
"First, when shopping, ask yourself, Will this last me a long time and is it versatile? Secondly, wear what you like and not what someone else says she likes. Finally, dress for comfort...but slay."

Shop similar faux-leather jackets.
5 of 5
Illustrated by Alex Marino.
Advertisement

More from Fashion

Watch

R29 Original Series

Watch Now
Documentary
Five love stories behind diverse, multicultural marriages.
Watch Now
Lifestyle
Life experiments, 5 days at a time.
Watch Now
Fashion
The style of subculture.
Watch Now
Beauty
Viral trends, tried and tested.
Watch Now
Documentary
From vibrators to lipstick, learn how your favorite products are made.
Watch Now
Documentary
Extraordinary, one-of-a-kind individuals
Watch Now
Documentary
The latest stories to watch.
Watch Now
Lifestyle
Inside the homes of millennial women — & what they paid for them
Watch Now
Comedy
Let's talk about sex, baby.
Watch Now
Documentary
Female artisans around the world
Watch Now
Politics
Made by and for smart, opinionated women.
Watch Now
Film
We helped 12 female directors claim their power.