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Blog 1710 Stellamina Neubaueyewear Saskiastolzlechner 4

Visit the green and glowing world of Amina Stella Steiner

Getting a glimpse into Vienna based Amina Stella Steiner's light flooded flat and conscious day to day life we can't help but feel a little envy.

Run­ning the sus­tain­abil­i­ty focused lifestyle blog Stel­lam­i­na as well as work­ing as a project man­ag­er in a dig­i­tal agency, Ami­na not only is an expert when it comes to every­thing online, but also exact­ly knows how to embrace the com­plete oppo­site: nature and the envi­ron­ment. Be it home­grown veg­eta­bles, hand-sewn clothes, or a fair fash­ion guide, this cre­ative thinker not only shows how easy a con­scious and resource­ful lifestyle can be, but also how metic­u­lous­ly styl­ish it can look at the same time. Luck­i­ly, Ami­na invit­ed us into her green and glow­ing flat and world, shar­ing a few of her best tips for a sus­tain­able lifestyle and show­ing the pieces most essen­tial to her con­sid­er­ate possessions.

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Photography by Saskia Stolzlechner
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Photography by Amina Stella Steiner

When and why did you start ques­tion­ing your con­sumer and eat­ing behav­ior?
It might sound like a cliché but it was a movie that kick-start­ed my sus­tain­abil­i­ty jour­ney. The ground­work how­ev­er has already been made by my par­ents. Local and qual­i­ty prod­ucts were always just as nor­mal to me as going to the farm­ers mar­ket once a week. I of course had a small rebel phase of a few months, but when I saw the movie We feed the world” at the age of four­teen I imme­di­ate­ly stopped eat­ing meat, final­ly under­stood my par­ents’ approach and start­ed to re-think my deci­sions. I read and learned a lot in the fol­low­ing years. When know­ing more about food pro­duc­tion, agri­cul­ture and poli­cies, becom­ing veg­an was a log­i­cal step. From there the road led to oth­er parts of life such as local pro­duc­tion, fair fash­ion, and zero-waste. It was and is step-by-step learn­ing and implementing.

What were the hard­est steps to change your life for the pur­pose of sus­tain­abil­i­ty?
To be hon­est, I nev­er found it dif­fi­cult but rather very excit­ing! Search­ing for alter­na­tives awak­ens my cre­ative and curi­ous spir­it. The only thing that some­times is dif­fi­cult is when oth­er peo­ple feel restrict­ed by my choic­es of liv­ing. I am prob­a­bly the most uncom­pli­cat­ed per­son in regard to veg­an­ism and sus­tain­abil­i­ty, nev­er los­ing a word about it if not asked to and also allow­ing myself excep­tions when­ev­er I feel like it – but my lifestyle is of course a con­stant reminder to oth­er peo­ple that some things could eas­i­ly be changed in dai­ly life. Some are thank­ful for my soft influ­ence – oth­ers are not.

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Photography by Saskia Stolzlechner
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Photography by Saskia Stolzlechner

Is there one par­tic­u­lar prej­u­dice that you’re often con­front­ed with when oth­er peo­ple hear about your lifestyle?
I most­ly get asked if this sort of life is extreme­ly restric­tive and dif­fi­cult. Too much think­ing – too lit­tle plea­sure. But let’s be hon­est. How would my lifestyle pre­vent me from hav­ing fun, going out, and expe­ri­enc­ing amaz­ing moments? It’s true that there is a lot of research and infor­ma­tion involved, but as with most things in life, it’s also about estab­lish­ing habits which then make the whole thing very easy in the end. In fact, I find great joy in it, as being restrict­ed” also leads you to be more inter­est­ed and go on a con­stant dis­cov­ery hunt. Through this I got to know prod­ucts but main­ly also peo­ple and places I would have prob­a­bly not dis­cov­ered oth­er­wise. When trav­el­ing for exam­ple I do not sit in the first cof­fee place I find but ask peo­ple for their spe­cial advice and dis­cov­er many secret spots.

Health is anoth­er top­ic many con­ver­sa­tions revolve around – and mon­ey. It is still believed that a veg­an diet leads to the lack of vit­a­mins & co. I do agree that one has to be very con­scious about that and eat extreme­ly well-bal­anced, yet after five years of a (near­ly) veg­an diet I still feel like a super ener­gized quirky per­son – hit­ting the gym five times a week. Region­al food can be shopped way less expen­sive than oth­er food. I did an exper­i­ment on low-bud­get organ­ic food shop­ping once. Sus­tain­able prod­ucts in terms of cloth­ing, home, and sta­tion­ary are indeed more expen­sive – but the past has also proven to me that those prod­ucts have a very long life­time and do ful­ly pay off.

How do you buy new appar­el or acces­sories? To what key fac­tors do you attach great impor­tance?
There is not much of a sys­tem behind of my pur­chas­es. Relat­ed to food I main­ly watch out for region­al­i­ty and lit­tle pack­ag­ing. And I go to the farm­ers mar­ket once a week. Fash­ion and oth­er prod­ucts are most­ly emo­tion­al pur­chas­es that meet my expec­ta­tions of fair pro­duc­tion and sus­tain­able mate­ri­als. Most of the things I own tell their per­son­al sto­ry, either con­nect­ed to their pro­duc­tion or the place I get them at.

Are there any stores, restau­rants, cafés, bars in your favorite dis­tricts of Vien­na that you like going to and that ful­fill your eth­i­cal stan­dards?
I actu­al­ly have three dis­tricts I move and life in. One of them being the fifth dis­trict where my flat is. The Budapest Bistro is like a sec­ond liv­ing room and fam­i­ly to me – serv­ing good break­fast and won­der­ful Hun­gar­i­an (also veg­an) pas­tries. The own­er of the cof­fee place prob­a­bly knows as much about my rela­tion­ships as my team does. The Aro­mat” is my place to go when I want to go out and real­ly talk to some­body. It is a super tiny French bistro offer­ing crêpes and galettes and is not only amaz­ing­ly styl­ish but also a calm and relax­ing place. Oth­er than that, the Zweitbester and Figar are always good for cof­fee and lunch. Longer nights might be spent at WerkzeugH. The sev­enth dis­trict has also lit­er­al­ly been my sec­ond liv­ing room for the past two years, due to my work. There are many places to go, but you def­i­nite­ly shouldn’t miss out on the Wolf­gang cof­fee and Tata restau­rant as much as the sec­ond Figar in town.

My agency will move to the first dis­trict soon, the dis­trict where I’ve been work­ing when I came to Vien­na. I will have to dis­cov­er places there but the Tian restau­rant, my for­mer work­ing place, and the Miznon are must-vis­it places too – I just real­ize I should prob­a­bly do dis­trict food­ie tours.

When it comes to cloth­ing I most­ly shop when trav­el­ing, or online from labels I know. In Vien­na I love the vin­tage shop at Burggasse24 and Klei­der Machen Glück­lich. Vien­na is lack­ing mul­ti-brand fair fash­ion shops though. I also leave quite some mon­ey at the Saint Charles phar­ma­cy, where I get my fan­cy health supplies.

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Photography by Saskia Stolzlechner

You were show­ing us around in your flat and we dis­cov­ered quite a few DIY projects…

The whole flat is a con­stant DIY project of mine – but it has also been the DIY project of my uncle in ear­li­er times. When he was study­ing archi­tec­ture he rebuilt the apart­ment, and made all the floors, and con­struc­tions him­self. This is also why I have such a strong con­nec­tion to the place. It’s near­ly entire­ly hand­made, white and wood­en and has beau­ti­ful light. When I moved in I tried to get rid of every­thing I do not need and found my own style trough min­i­mal­ist col­ors and plants. Not because of Pin­ter­est though, those things just crossed my way. So did the stands that I got from a muse­um stock clean­ing and many oth­er pieces. One can con­sid­er the naked man I drew a DIY, and also the kitchen shelf I built. Addi­tion­al­ly, my sewing machine – as I do not only sew some of my cloth­ing but also cur­tains, kitchen tow­els and so on.

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Photography by Saskia Stolzlechner

Tell us more about your micro farm­ing / urban gar­den­ing aspi­ra­tions – do you have any tips?
I tried a lot and failed a lot. When I had to real­ize that grow­ing veg­gies does not quite fit into my dai­ly rou­tine – poor straw­ber­ries – I decid­ed to opt for the min­i­mal­ist ver­sion – grow­ing sprouts and micro veg­gies. Both of it is a very relax­ing and beau­ti­ful process result­ing in a glass of fresh veg­gies at the end of a week. Rather than food it is more of a healthy add-on and con­nec­tion to food pro­duc­tion for me. But I still have more projects planned – grow­ing mush­rooms on cof­fee ground and hav­ing my own com­post, are up next!

What’s your favorite part of your flat?
My liv­ing room. Def­i­nite­ly. It is at the heart of my flat and the place to relax and unwind. It tells many sto­ries and is yet calm and friend­ly. It’s the place for cre­ativ­i­ty, work and relax­ation at the same time – yes, that’s possible.

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Photography by Saskia Stolzlechner
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Photography by Amina Stella Steiner

What’s your favorite book at the moment?

I rarely have favorite books. It’s always the book I cur­rent­ly read that’s my favorite. But I do have book com­pan­ions that I get back to again and again. One of them – Komm, ich erzäh­le dir eine Geschichte”, by Jorge Bucay – was giv­en to me a year ago by a friend. How to get along with the wirrwarr of life? With sto­ries! Fairy tales from around the world, sufi-para­bles, zen wis­doms, antique sagas that we all can con­nect to, help to under­stand our prob­lems, fears, and remind us of the essence of rela­tion­ships and per­son­al dri­ve. Tools of titans” was rec­om­mend­ed to me by anoth­er friend. It col­lects life hacks from the most suc­cess­ful and inter­est­ing peo­ple around the world. Sep­a­rat­ed into the dif­fer­ent areas of life like body and mind, it is the per­fect book to ran­dom­ly open on any page and get inspi­ra­tion from. It’s also a bit dan­ger­ous because I tend to try every­thing I read – which led to a three-day fast­ing after one chap­ter and cof­fee with loads of coconut oil after anoth­er. The 50 secrets of love,” by Elif Shafak is anoth­er beau­ti­ful book I’d high­ly rec­om­mend to read.

What piece you own has the most val­ue to you?
Near­ly every piece in my flat has its very own sto­ry and is very dear to me. My cush­ions and sofa cov­er for exam­ple have been cus­tom made by a female entre­pre­neur in Ethiopia when I was vis­it­ing her for a project. The rugs are hand­made from recy­cled yarn, the stands from a muse­um – and so on. One of my favorite pieces though is the make-up table – a heir­loom of my grand­ma. It’s a bit of a para­dox as I rarely put any make up on, but it is one of the very few things I have left from here and when I moved to this flat and saw the spot between the two win­dows, I knew it belonged right there. Anoth­er one is the Paul Flo­ra draw­ing, anoth­er heir­loom. And only recent­ly it got a coun­ter­part by a young Vien­nese artist, Frau Isa, which reminds me of being strong and fol­low­ing my path.

The most unex­pect­ed thing in your flat?
I guess that’s my toi­let, which is out­side of my flat. It’s a typ­i­cal­ly Vien­nese thing. But it might also be the fact that I only have one wash­basin for my kitchen and bathroom.

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Photography by Amina Stella Steiner
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Photography by Amina Stella Steiner

Head­er Image by Sask­ia Stolzlechner

24 Oct 2017 · neubau eyewear