Summer Dean is an environmental and sustainable fashion advocate currently based in Los Angeles. She shares information on everything from slow fashion brands and thrifting to the politics of fossil fuels at @climatediva on TikTok and Instagram. Witnessing the devastation of an oil spill near her home in Florida at a young age inspired her commitment to environmental issues. “Seeing that oil spill affect my community and affect this beach that I loved so much really opened my eyes to the horrors of the fossil fuel industry,” she says. “After that, I became interested in environmentalism. I studied environmental studies in college, and I think my entry into sustainable lifestyles was fashion. From fashion, I realized that the status quo of everything is inherently unsustainable.” After learning about the harmful effects of the fast fashion industry and other forms of mass consumption, Summer sought to find alternatives that brought her in deeper alignment with the wellbeing of the Earth—and to share those findings with others.
Summer’s most prized possession is a handmade full-length mirror from NoniL.A., a woman-owned business in Los Angeles. The mirror is made of cream-colored wood and features a playful and wavy border. The design process unfolded over several weeks, with Summer providing feedback on shape and color choices. Although she changed her mind several times about the details of the piece, Summer is thrilled with the finished object. “I feel like the whole design of it encapsulates my personality,” she says. “It’s kind of quirky and weird.”
Summer purchased the mirror in 2020 toward the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. She was in the middle of moving to a new apartment, and was seeking thoughtfully-made furniture and decor from businesses that sourced their materials with care. “I feel like at that time, everyone was trying to invest in their homes, because we were spending so much [more] time at home,” she says.
It turns out delivering the mirror was as personalized and small-scale as the design process itself. After the piece was finished, NoniL.A.’s owner hand-delivered it to Summer’s front door. “She and her boyfriend just drove it up in their truck, and they helped me move it into my apartment,” Summer says. “It was a really fun experience,you never get to have when you order something from big-brand furniture stores.”
“I wanted a really nice, big mirror because I’d never had one before,” Summer shares. Combing through the trendy furniture advertised on Instagram and fast furniture websites, she couldn’t find a piece that was made sustainably. She eventually found NoniL.A. online and reached out about a commission. In addition to NoniL.A.’s whimsical designs, Summer was attracted to the intimate and personal ethic of the company. “I really just love the way she conducts her business,” Summer says. “She makes everything handmade to order. I could have it painted any color I wanted, and I loved how personable and slow the process was.” For Summer, buying a piece from NoniL.A. is an embodiment of her values around consumption and slow living. “It reminds me of how I want to see the world [return] to artisanal ways of making things,” she concludes. “It really helps you take your time and purchase something that you love.”