Sustainable Clothing, a passion
Author: Sharon Date Posted:18 April 2019
Eco Chic Clothing has long specialised in ladies bamboo clothing, sized for the real world. It was a small business that operated from a 3x3m stall at Eumundi markets. I used to stand in my stall enjoying the vibe of the market, the smells of the food and the sounds of the music, I especially loved the interaction of the store holders and customers. I had such beautiful neighbours on either side of me that I named our little section of the market, the “Avenue of Angels”.
I had initially intended to make Eco Chic Clothing an online store but for various reasons it never happened and for 7 years remained a lovely little store with lots of new and repeat customers, always specialising in Bamboo.
But all the while a little voice inside my head kept saying, ‘Exit right, world stage’, I knew I needed to play on a bigger stage but we had another business, I had several health issues, was tired and I just didn’t have the confidence.
IT'S NOT WHAT I DO
In 2017 I journeyed to India to attend my first ever textile and manufacturing fair. I didn’t know what it was I was looking for I just knew I would know it when I saw it. I walked down aisle after aisle very focused on my goal, watching as the other buyers got excited to find beautiful cottons, leathers, block prints, embroideries, trending fashions and more. As they met with old friends, new suppliers, went about their business and placed orders, I kept thinking, 'it’s not what I do.'
At the end of the first day the lovely Johnathon, whom I had only just met that morning, came to me and asked me if I had met the lady with the milk fabric. The answer was ‘no’ but I knew I needed to. And it wasn’t just milk she had. Hidden at the back of her store, almost as an afterthought, was a small collection of sustainable fabrics that I didn’t even know existed. I knew immediately that I had found what I had come for.
YES, I DID TAKE THEM TO BED
I brought the tiny little samples of the fabrics back to Australia with me but I wasn’t able to do anything with them for another 12 months. I carried them everywhere, I even slept with them beside my bed. And although I am not a designer and had no idea what I wanted to make from the them, I did know that I wanted to work with these amazing textiles.
I returned to India in 2018 for more trade shows, sourcing and meetings. I visited textile mills and clothing manufacturers who typically were heavily into fast fashion. I had samples made in different fabrics, styles and sizes. We used a variety of resources designing, printing, embroidery, we even adorned them with sequins, it was a lot of fun. I was however very disappointed when some were returned to me lined with cotton (and I don't mean organic cotton), what I really wanted was to feel these unique textiles against my skin.
At one mill I sat down and was given a book of certifications, a large percentage of the conversation was in Hindi with some translated to English. This was even more of a problem for me when I pointed out that some of the certifications were out of date and nothing I had been shown supported the fabrics I was interested in sourcing. I had come a very long way and specifically returned to India to come to the mill but I wasn’t being taken seriously. The promised factory tour or at minimum videos never eventuated (although I do now have the certifications for 100% organic). Still I wouldn’t give up and as luck would have it the more I pursued my goals the more doors opened and I walked through, the universe literally had my back.
BURNT OUT BUT PASSIONATE
Rewind to 2017, when I was staying at the Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, one of the guests commented that she could see I was passionate about what I do. At the time I was exhausted, tired and going through a tough time, I didn’t feel passionate but I did go back to Australia, closed Eco Chic Clothing, moved to Melbourne and somehow found myself on the NEIS scheme which fizzled when they realised I didn’t have a product let alone was launch ready but none the less I was given great advice and fabulous training at writing a Business Plans. The Wise Foundation picked me up soon afterwards and have very generously supported me ever since.
BUILDING MY TEAM
By being back in India I was able to attend some very big and not so big fairs, reconnected with friends I had made the year prior and once again with the help of the universe, found my path to designers, manufacturers and new friends. We often have different points of view as to what is sustainable, even a ‘better waste’ but ultimately our thoughts are in alignment and I love to remind them how I was told 'Nobody else wanted to work with these fabrics,' it was me who brought this to them.
My first collection of Bamboo, Banana and Soyabean clothing has literally just been completed. The brief I gave to my designer was to 'surprise me' and between us we had a lot of fun creating styles, choosing fabrics, laces and embroideries.
The pieces are exquisite to the touch with each of the textiles chosen for their own unique qualities. The clothes are a small collection of quality, timeless garments that we initially thought to be a sleepwear range but have proved themselves to be so much more!
My shipment is due to arrive in Australia by end of May when they will be available to share with the world.
I can hardly wait!