Category Archives: ethical fashion

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 !

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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!

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!

Sollis Jewellery + GIVEAWAY

A little bit rock and roll and a litte bit macrame – Sollis Jewellery has created a stunning range that is as sophisticated as it is unique.

We had a quick chat with Eleanor Ford of Sollis Jewellery this week, here’s what she said…

Sollis jewellery is handcrafted glamour with an edge.

I gather inspiration from the decorative arts and crafts of world cultures. I like learning new craft techniques and re-appropriating them with a modern twist.  Fusing this passion for craft with a bit of rock ‘n’ roll and a sharp fashion aesthetic I create stunning and innovative jewellery.

My current collection is called ‘Masai’ so I would call the aesthetic of this latest range ‘modern tribal’.

All my products are handmade and I always try to source products locally.

The design, the bold colours and the combinations of materials makes our products very different.

I studied BA in Jewellery Design at Middlesex University, London followed by an MA in Textiles at Goldsmiths College, London. Since completing my education I worked for Erickson Beamon, and Kirt Holmes in London who designed for Swarovski in Paris.

In 2006 I launched my own collection ‘Eleanor Jewellery’ with great success, selling to some of the most prestigious boutiques throughout the world. After relocating to Australia, SOLLIS jewellery was launched in January 2011.

My advice for young designers is to work really hard and learn lots of different skills like web design, marketing, accounting etc. You will have to be a jack of all trades and you probably won’t have the money to pay other people to do these things for you!

When I’m not working I love cooking, and of course eating… and wine.

I couldn’t live without water and wine!

I’m listening to Blues.

I’m preparing to launch Sollis into the international market.

//  GIVEAWAY  //

Eleanor has given us this gorgeous ‘small metal’ necklace (valued at $110) to give away to one of our lucky readers!

HOW TO ENTER

1 entry = Just leave a comment here (too easy)
2 entries = Subscribe to our blog (over there on the top right)
3 entries = ‘Like’ us on Facebook (now the odds are awesome)

GOOD LUCK!


The I OWE U Project

Bluecaravan is so overwhelmed with gush for IOU that we are speechless. One image, a manifesto and a video tell the whole story – without the need for a single (other) word from me…. *sigh*

Threads of Grace // GIVEAWAY

Social entrepreneur and fashion designer Lilliana Madigan shows us how engaging with disadvantaged women can bring about social change as well as beautiful design. Her label Threads of Grace brings these two elements together, and the result is a fashion range that is stamped with love.

 

 // GIVEAWAY //

 // GIVEAWAY //

Our favorite piece from the Threads of Grace range could be yours!

 A beautiful silk halter top with embroidered detail – available in either blue/black (as shown) or olive green. One size fits all.

To enter, just visit the Threads of Grace giveaway post on our FACEBOOK page, and leave a comment.

“Share” the giveaway with your Facebook friends – and let us know with a separate comment – for a double entry. So easy!

Enter Here

Moselle Clothing goes Fairtrade

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Moselle Clothing (QLD) has announced that it has formally committed to using fair trade cotton in all future t-shirt ranges – and it’s music to our ethical little ears!

Moselle was founded as a social business to provide a better life and a genuine alternative for women rescued from sex trafficking in Asia  – and you can now have confidence that not only their seamstresses but everyone in their supply chain has been treated ethically, and is getting a better deal.

Yep, we love Fairtrade – who couldn’t or wouldn’t?

Congratulations to Moselle for taking the big leap, and inspiring others to do the same. Three big cheers to you!

Check out the Fairtrade Australia website to find out how you can support workers around the world, or how to bring your label up to fair trade standards.

Happy Fairtrade Fortnight to you all!

Jen x