Meet Di Stitt + GIVEAWAY!

With a love of fashion and a vision to support economic development in African communites, Di Stitt created ethical fashion & accessories label One Colour. Di tells us how starting her business was simply a walk in the park… 

{Magdalene Coat}

 One Colour is an ethical fashion, accessories and gifts brand sourcing mainly from Africa.  The primary aim of our business is to create sustainable employment in Africa, which will ultimately have a positive impact on extreme local poverty. With on-going employment people can make plans for their futures and the futures of their family.

Our range is unique, not just in our shared vision, but through sourcing and producing within Africa we have created an ever evolving range that has an African edge and is made with integrity.

{Abigail PVII Dress}

 In 2007 we met a woman in South Africa who said “I don’t know why we fight each other. If you cut us we all bleed the one colour” - she was telling us about the difficulties they face in her wider community, and this conversation has had an enourmous impact on me and my own family – and was the seed that saw the birth of our brand One Colour. One Colour stands for the innate sameness that lies underneath the colour of our skin.

One Colour could be described as timeless and elegant, with just a hint of Africa.  I design the range in Australia with Libby Andersen, and we design with the Australian woman mind.  Because we source almost everything from within Africa, we are also influenced by the beautiful, vibrant traditional fabrics and beading techniques. We are equally inspired by the amazing, dignified women who work to make our products with love and care.

{Lizabeth Dress}

How did we start the business? The business ‘arrived’ early one morning after a brainstorming session with the family as we were walking through the Botanical Gardens in Brisbane…

Did I mention I’m a U2 tragic? I was inspired by reading a book by Bono (U2) whose wife started the clothing label Edun – which was founded on a commitment to encourage trade with Africa. I also had several conversations in the preceding years with missionaries in Africa who had witnessed first-hand the positive power that employment can have on helping to raise people out of poverty. It is very satisfying to know that One Colour is more than just another label, we are part of a growing number of designers demonstrating our commitment to Africa.

My advice to emerging designers? Keep your vision front and centre. It’s easy to get distracted by all the other things flying around.

one colour

 {Judith Skirt}

To ensure the authentity of our vision with One Colour I work hard to establish relationships with those I partner with in Africa. We travel to Africa every year to see for ourselves that people receive a real living wage plus entitlements and that they work in a clean, safe environment.

I am also looking at ways to incorporate more sustainable or organic fabrics into the next and subsequent ranges. At the moment the range is made with cotton grown by small scale farmers in Africa. They rely on seasonal rains rather than intense irrigation to grow their crops, which is good know, given that cotton is one of the thirstiest crops around.  I also want to introduce eco-friendly fabric dyes but have always felt that it’s best to start with what is happening already then to develop as the opportunity or capacity arises.

one colour

{Women making the One Colour toy collection}

I was a personal assistant in a past life, then had children (now teenagers) so was a full time mum. I enjoyed creative writing and did a bit of feature article writing for our local newspaper in the Hunter Valley. 

When I’m not working I’m hanging out at home with the family, reading, catching up with friends, having coffee or drinks wherever with whoever, travelling, playing piano, gardening…

I can’t live without a place to retreat to.

Right now I’m listening to Jazz Masters – Louis Armstrong, Stan Getz, Count Basie.

My top three blogs are Ecouterre, Design Africa and De-Co.co.
Visit One Colour

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 // GIVEAWAY //

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Di Stitt and One Colour are giving you the chance to win this gorgeous Magdalene Coat valued at $110!!

one colour

HOW TO ENTER

1 entry = Head over to our Facebook page and “SHARE” the competition with your friends. Way too easy!

2 MORE entries = Head over to the One Colour store then leave a comment on the Facebook competition post telling us which piece you would most love to see in your wardrobe.

I know which one I would like…

Entries close THIS Friday 16th Nov. 5pm sharp!

  GOOD LUCK !

Meet Emma Kidd (& her lacy knickers)

Emiliana Underwear began with lingere designer Emma Kidd’s desire to step away from the world of fast-paced fashion. She now sources end-of-line and unwanted fabrics and transforms them into a gorgeous range of lacy handmade knickers… 

Emiliana Underwear is both elegant and quirky. All the designs are based on underwear that I would like to wear myself, so they have to be comfortable. I use pretty stretch lace instead of elastic to ensure the smoothest fit.

I was inspired to start Emiliana when I could not find any other way to produce underwear that was 100% environmentally or ethically responsible. I trained in underwear design and have been in the industry for over 10 years. I realised that I just had to go it alone and prove that it is possible to make an ethical lingere choice.

I used to be a Lingerie Designer and Product Developer in Hong Kong and worked for high street brands as well as famous fashion designers such as Collette Dinnigan.

…I then realised that I didn’t agree with the mass production of underwear or the commercial underwear industry. I left Hong Kong to do a Masters degree at Schumacher College in England (an amazing International college of Sustainability), studying Holistic Science. This confirmed my thoughts and worldviews and gave me the courage to do things differently.

 
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My advice to young designers is – don’t be afraid! Go for it, and most importantly, trust in process.  You may not know exactly where you are headed but it doesn’t matter, it will emerge as you go along.

When I’m not working I like to read a lot. I love to challenge my ways of thinking and expand my ideas about the world and our place in it. I love being outdoors and get a lot of strength and inspiration from a stroll around my garden.

My friends would describe me as: Determined, sensitive, open-minded, dreamer, warm hearted.

In the future I aim to continue showing women that there are ethical ways of fulfilling their need for underwear – including learning to make it themselves! There is no better way of understanding the process involved in something than to try give it a go yourself. I create make-your-own knicker making kits and would love to increase the awareness of this wonderful process.

Visit Emiliana Underwear

// GIVEAWAY  // GIVEAWAY // GIVEAWAY //

Emma Kidd and Emiliana Underwear are giving you the chance to win a piece of the prettiest ethical underwear of your choice PLUS a knicker making kit to create your own! Just head over to Emma’s Bluecaravan store and choose the pair that you’d like to be yours…

*Entries now closed*

HOW TO ENTER

1 entry = Head over to our Facebook page and tell us which style you would love to win: the Skimpy Short; Hipster Brief; Italian Bikini; or Boyshort? 

2 MORE entries = While you are there – be sure to hit the ‘SHARE’ button on the Facebook giveaway post for triple the chance to win….

  

GOOD LUCK!

Society COLLECTIVE + Giveaway!

Society COLLECTIVE began with Elinor Cripps’ dream of maintaining economic freedom for the indigenous Wayuu women of Latin America. Meet Elinor and discover the extraordinarily beautiful bags that she has brought to Australian shores…

Mochilas are handwoven bags used by the Wayuu to carry food and water across the desert. Every Mochila takes up to one month to make while the weaver takes care of the animals, gathers water, cooks and walks long distances from one community to the next always searching for water, the highest valued good.

Society COLLECTIVE started with an accidental journey to the Colombian desert where I ended up spending a lot of time with the Wayuu. The Wayuu are an indigenous, matriarchal, nomadic culture who roam the deserts between Colombia and Venezuela. They are an incredibly vibrant and passionate culture, having never been subjugated by the Spanish. I was lucky enough to form strong friendships with the Wayuu and be welcomed into their community for a few months.


The Wayuu live in one of the poorest regions of Latin America, and make some of the most beautiful bags I have ever seen… In recent years, the Wayuu way of life has seriously come under threat from overseas mining interests. The Mochilas are a means by which the Wayuu women can maintain independence both economically and culturally.

Every Mochila is a unique piece of art and is the personal and artistic signature of the woman who made it. This weaving tradition stems back thousands of years, and the colorful bags are canvases that reflect the weaver’s worldview.

Mochilas represent a circular cosmology where there is no before and after, but only threads of life spun from one cycle and woven into the next. The surrounding desert, animals, and natural elements all serve as major sources of inspiration for both design and color, such as the patterns of wind on sand, soaring birds of prey, the blazing sun, cactus flowers or rare waterholes.


We base our business model on fair trade practices. This means using our business to tackle poverty and empower producers. We have ensured that the Wayuu receive a premium price for their products and invest additional profits into a nearby school. Most importantly, we have created a transparent business model that gives the Wayuu access to democratic business-making decisions. They set the price, the nature of working hours and conditions as well as the quality of the product.

We are also proud of our commitment to the empowerment of women. By employing Wayuu women to continue their traditional crafts, society COLLECTIVE has helped contribute to their independence both financially and spiritually. Nicholas d. Kristof, explains: “‘Women hold up half the sky,’ in the words of a Chinese saying, yet that’s mostly an aspiration: in a large slice of the world, girls are uneducated and women marginalized, and it’s not an accident that those same countries are disproportionately mired in poverty and riven by fundamentalism and chaos…focusing on women and girls is the most effective way to fight global poverty and extremism. The world is awakening to a powerful truth: Women and girls aren’t the problem; they’re the solution.”

The turning point that made me start Society COLLECTIVE was when my bag broke in Columbia. I had been carrying a mass produced bag that had, not surprisingly, barely lasted six months. One of the Wayuu women I was staying with at the time immediately gave me the Mochila she was carrying (I’ve had it ever since). In that moment she gave me a bag that was more than just another mass produced, designed-to-fall-apart, part-of-the-chain-of-consumption product. She gave me something that was part of her story and her world.

Every product has a story, and its up to consumers to decide whether that story is empowering or not. My broken bag, and my new mochila, made me realize I could provide a product that empowered the Wayuu and give fellow Australians a bag that actually lasted, had an empowering story and was incredibly beautiful!

I did my Honours in history at the University of Sydney (Nineteenth Century Hawaiian Mariners on Board Euro-American Whaling Ships… making anyone excited?!) While at university I studied feminism and environmental history. As much as I love writing about these subjects, I wanted to actually implement my ethics in the real world. Society COLLECTIVE has given me the opportunity to do just this.

My advice to other young designers is to stop putting off starting something new. People (myself included) come up with many reasons to not start something – the timing is not right, I’m not sure if I’m ready, it all seems too risky, I’ll do it later, I’ve never done this before… You will never actually know if you are ready to do something until you just do it. I’ve found that with a little hard work, faith in yourself and perseverance anything is possible.

When I’m not working I’m doing sweet, sweet nothing! Well, that’s when I’m not out in the vegie garden hunting caterpillars with a vengeance all in the name of my tomatoes and kale. I’m also a keen surfer spending more of my time in the ocean than on land. I get land sickness!

I couldn’t live without the ocean, organic vegies and my very hairy man.

Right now I am listening to Beirut – check them out!

The last ethical product I purchased was my Sseko sandals (www.ssekodesigns.com). Sseko sandals are made by high school female graduates in Uganda so they can generate enough income to go on to university. Just like society COLLECTIVE, Sseko strives to ensure customers understand that every product ‘has a story.’ I admire Sseko for their commitment to female empowerment and ethical manufacturing.

My favorite Bluecaravan seller is Idear Papergoods. I bought all my Christmas cards from them last year – her stuff is so clever and witty! I love it! I’m hoping all her cards will make my friends and family smile.

In the future… We’re hoping that Society COLLECTIVE gains enough momentum and support so we can return to Colombia and set up a local school for the Wayuu children. This is our driving force right now, and something we know we can achieve!

Visit Society COLLECTIVE

 // GIVEAWAY //         // GIVEAWAY //         // GIVEAWAY //

Elinor Cripps and Society COLLECTIVE are generously giving you the chance to win this exquisite handwoven Mochila valued at $190.00!

*Drawn next Friday the 16th March 2012*

HOW TO ENTER

1 entry = Head over to our Facebook and say ‘Hi’ – how easy is that?!

2 MORE entries = While you are there – be sure to hit the ‘SHARE’ button on the Facebook giveaway post for triple the chance to win….

GOOD LUCK!

T_design + Valentine GIVEAWAY

Design student Tania Gnecchi has recently launched her new label T_design. We spoke to Tania about her beautiful range of stationery, jewellery and homewares that is sure to delight all lovers of simple, evocative design…

T_design is a brand new Australian company which prides itself on designing and making unique, beautiful and handmade products. Tdesign’s innovative collections are a mix of graphic, ceramic and jewellery design. Each item is designed and handmade with love and care in my small Sydney studio.

If I had to sum up what I do, I’d say it’s all about simple, understated, unique and beautiful design. I aim to make things that are true to who I am. I want them to reflect my values and beliefs and this has been no easy task but has definately been a great learning experience. I am someone that needs to explore all the options before choosing – this has resulted in many many different designs and projects.

I am still a full time Design student and also work as a graphic designer – so my life has just become a bit busier, something that I didn’t think was possible before now!

Even when I was miles away from home, travelling around Europe, I still somehow found a way to make things along the way. There wasn’t really a turning point that brought about T_design –  It just happened. I suppose I have a need to create things. T_design is really an extension of me, my life and my passion to create. I think it was bound to happen.

My advice to other young designer? Go for it, don’t be afraid! It is scary when you start your own business, when something becomes more than a hobby, but everyone has to start somewhere. There are bound to be many bumps along the way and I know I still have a lot to learn but it’s all such an enriching experience. Trust in yourself and your product – and don’t ever stop trying!

When I’m not working I’m eating way too many cookies!!! I simply adore them!

I guess my friends would desribe me as determined, fair, loving, caring and maybe sometimes a little stubborn…

In the future… I hope to see Tdesign grow into something really special. It would be amazing to really get the brand out there and have a big following. There are also so many gorgeous stores that I would love to approach to sell my designs. But essentially I want to develop a strong brand identity and a range of beautiful timeless pieces. Sometimes the simplest things are the most beautiful.

Visit T_design

// GIVEAWAY //

Tania Gnechhi and T_design are giving you the opportunity to win a gorgeous collection of cards just in time for Valentines Day. The pack includes 2 each of the cards pictured.

*Giveaway drawn this Friday the 10th February*

HOW TO ENTER

1 entry = Head over to our Facebook and say ‘Hi’ – how easy is that?!

2 MORE entries = While you are there – be sure to hit the ‘share’ button on the Facebook giveaway post for triple the chance to win….

  

GOOD LUCK!

Urban Walls + Xmas Giveaway!

From making babies to making wall art. Working mum Danielle Hardy chats to Bluecaravan about her commitment to being a stay at home mum, and how she built successful business Urban Walls around a busy family life.

I made two super-cute babies and was working my butt off as a graphic and web designer to be able to work from home. I TOTALLY didn’t see myself doing this full-time but I am SO thankful that it grew and organically happened for me to be able to be mom and business lady :)

The turning point came when my maternity leave was up… I couldn’t justify going to work and putting my babies in daycare when I was capable of working from home. It’s definitely not easy to balance and I have a ton of late nights/early mornings but I am so thankful with the choice that I made to take a leap of faith and believe that I could do this from home and it be successful.

My advice to other young designers is to network with other people in the field, make great connections, believe in yourself and your creativity, don’t be afraid to take risks!!!

When I’m not working… it’s not very glamorous! Lots of diapers, walks to the park, endless amounts of laundry, and making gentlemen out of my boys takes up the majority of my time

My husband would describe me as Ambitious, Sarcastic, Persistent, Adventurous, Loyal

I couldn’t live without my family – our last name is Hardy so I refer to the all of them as my “Hardyboys”. I couldn’t survive without them.

Right now I’m listening to Adele.

My top three blogs are: http://cupcakesandcashmere.com/, http://whippedstyle.com/, http://marcusdesigninc.blogspot.com/. Can I say my own? LOL uwdecals.com

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//  GIVEAWAY ! // 

A fabulous giveaway just in time for Christmas!

Danielle Hardy and Urban Walls are giving you the opportunity to win a $75 voucher to spend on ANY of the decals in their Bluecaravan store.

HOW TO ENTER

1 entry = First head over to Urban Walls then leave a comment here on the Blog telling us which decal is your fave. So easy!

2 entries = For a double dip just head over to our Facebook page and say ‘Hi’…

  

GOOD LUCK!

Meet Mariana Garcia-Katz + GIVEAWAY

Inspired by both the natural and urban environment, graphic designer and photogapher Mariana Garcia-Katz has created m2matiz, a range of homewares, jewellery and stationery that is as edgy as is it beautiful. This week we had a chat to Mariana about her motivations in developing a business built on design…

m2matiz - Bluecaravan

Photography has always been important to me and by around 2007 it developed into a real passion. The camera was with me, everywhere I went. Through the eye of the camera, there is a moment of beauty in almost anything. Commercial and corporate work was becoming a bit stifling, so I decided to find a way to make my passion viable. Using my skills in graphic design, a range of gifts started to develop. By 2009, the m2matiz range was born, including cards, stationary, jewellery, the t.lighthaus® and lumierebox.

The more I photograph, the more I see, the more I want to create. I’d have to say Mother Nature and our environment is my greatest inspirations. The flora and fauna of our country, is truly spectacular. We are also extremely lucky with the technology we have available today. The digital world allows me to experiment and bring my ideas to fruition, almost instantly.

The aesthetic of m2matiz is unique, minimal and elegant. The quality and feel of something hand crafted is also a very important part of what I do.

m2matiz - Bluecaravan

Wherever possible I reduce, reuse and in most cases use recycled materials. All our products are printed in Melbourne and hand crafted by me, from hand cutting to folding, to wrapping and tying with string. I am very conscious of the strain we have put on mother earth.

There is always such a great response to m2matiz, but ultimately, my images are the point of difference and are the essence of my range. I believe I have something that appeals to just about everyone. A particular image will grab someone’s attention. The boys love the luMierebox, the girls love the jewellery and people of all persuasions are inspired by the t.lighthaus.

Before starting m2matiz I used to freelance as a graphic artist/designer and more recently studied Interior Decoration and Design at RMIT.

m2matiz - Bluecaravan

The best advice I can offer to young designers is to keep doing what you love, follow your passion and your heart. If you can afford a website or if you can create your own, I’d recommend it. I believe my website has truly been one of the best tools for me yet.

When I’m not working I’m out and about taking photos! Raising two beautiful teenagers, tending to our chickens, cat, dog and veggie garden. Reading interior design mags and café hopping!

My family would describe me as creative, perfectionist, generous, honest, stubborn.

I’m listening to The Vaudeville Smash – Check them out if you can! They’re an amazingly talented and entertaining band. Truth is, I have a crush on Marc…

m2matiz - Bluecaravan

There are so many fabulous blogs I visit regularly but I peruse these three on pretty much a daily basis:

The Design Files: http://thedesignfiles.net,       Roost – a simple life: http://www.roostblog.com/,     Kinfolk – A Guide for Small Gatherings: http://www.kinfolkmag.com/journal

The last ethical product I bought was a resin ring from Milkwood Design just this weekend. We were both selling our creations at the Maribynong Maker’s Market on Sunday. I couldn’t resist the gorgeous hot pink ring. I wear black for the most part, so I love the ring for its pop of colour and beautiful organic shape.

Way too hard to pick just one favorite other BC seller! Let’s just say I’ve purchased little treasures from Snowfawn, Milkwood and Little Viking Girl. All of which I love for their quality work, customer service and of course their products are very pleasing to my eye.

Our future plans? Given that m2matiz evolved very organically and really without planning, I think I’ll continue on that path! I’ll keep doing what I love and wait to see where it takes me. I’ve always been one to take life a day at a time; you can be guaranteed surprises that way. Somewhat humbling I think.

 //  GIVEAWAY x 2 //

m2matiz - Bluecaravanm2matiz - Bluecaravan

                          We are totally in love with both of these giveaways!

Marianna and m2matiz are giving you the opportunity to win one of her beautiful products: the t.lighthaus© is a photographic translucent lantern designed to house a tealight candle (choose any photographic insert from Mariana’s range), and the ‘hello my love’ necklace (image insert as seen here) is part of the claudia range.
We will randomly choose a winner for each…

HOW TO ENTER

***ENTRIES NOW CLOSED***

1 entry = Just leave a comment here on the blog telling us which one: tealight or necklace?

2 entries = plus head over to our Facebook page say ‘Hi’…

3 entries = Head over to the m2matiz Facebook page, and let them know that we sent you.

GOOD LUCK!

Interview + Hand Bag Giveaway!

Meet Jenny Spring of brag bags australia. We had a quick chat with Jenny this week about building her ethical business and the inspiration behind her eclectic range of beautiful bags. here’s what she had to say:

We create handbags for the woman who enjoys her individuality and who wants to feel a sense of connection to the things around her.

A brag bag not only provides you with a beautiful artefact, you are also tracing the bag’s journey from the hands of an artisan to it’s resting place on your shoulder.

Knowing the story behind the object is like having the bragging rights to it. There is a growing awareness and hunger in our Western culture to move away from the mass-produced and toward the handmade.

All our products are designed by us in WA, and then handmade in small workshops in Vietnam. We know and respect the people we work with and do not haggle on price. Employees are treated with respect, and paid fair wages with good working hours and conditions.

A lot of the work is carried out in small outlying villages, allowing the embroiders and artisans to earn a good income and remain in their village – which is so important in maintaining community life. We have been working with the same groups for over 5 years and we incorporate some of their embroidery into our products, as we want to honour their unique skills.

We design specifically based on our customers’ feedback, and we incorporate this feedback into the next range. We change our range each season to maintain exclusivity and  all of our products are handmade in limited editions. We believe this business approach sets us apart from others.

I used to be a corporate software account executive in Seattle, USA! And before that, a teacher. Eight years ago we moved our young family from the USA back to Australia. The move prompted me to consider a career change, and I was eager to run my own company. When my friends introduced me to someone looking for a business partner in a handbag company I jumped at the chance. Three months later, we dissolved our partnership and I took over as owner of bragbags australia.

My advice to young designers is to keep a business focus along with the creative side. To think of what you want your business to be known for and how you want people to talk about your business.

My friends would describe me as determined, idealistic, a big picture thinker, enthusiastic, mother.

I’m the hockey coach and the scripture teacher. I want kids to choose their faith based on information (so I welcome lots of questions, although I struggle with the answers). And I’m travelling whenever I can, whether it is to Vietnam, or with the family.

I couldn’t live without my kids.

I’m listening to anything from Bocelli to Toto (ugh, my husband’s influence there!).

The blogs I read are springintosales.blogspot.com (this is my little sales business that I’ve just launched to help other small business owners get their minds around selling) and themogulmom.com (corporate mums unite!)

The last ethical product I bought was some clothing made for me in Vietnam. I can’t wait for it to arrive! My friend has a tailor who is so talented and makes up anything I want. I have several silk shirts that I love wearing, they are so comfortable and beautiful to wear. She has made them all!

I’m currently writing a course on “Selling to Women”. I think we do such a disservice by not really understanding how women want to be treated. I am running my first workshop at the end of August (in WA) and hope to have a little blog with some downloads. I want to help artisans who have built a lovely little business, but feel overwhelmed when it comes to selling to build a skill set so that they can, in turn, build a customer base of loyal and enthusiastic followers…

// GIVEAWAY //

**ENTRIES NOW CLOSED**

Jenny has given us this most gorgeous little Leather Pouchette (with bonus button cover) to give away to one of you!

It’s valued at $99, and comes in red, black and cream.

HOW TO ENTER

1 entry = Just leave a comment here telling us which colour you would like!
2 entries = plus head over to Brag Bags Facebook page say ‘Hi’, and tell them that we sent you!
3 entries = plus ‘Like’ us on Facebook

GOOD LUCK!