Tell us about yourself – familial/personal story, education, and prior work.
My background is in sociology so starting a textiles company was a big change for me. I have family in India and spent a great deal of my twenties traveling in the East (India, Pakistan, China, Mongolia, SE Asia, Iran & Central Asia) so it felt natural to base the tailoring in India, especially as the silk I use is manufactured there.
What is the importance of ethical fashion to you?
The fact that ‘ethical fashion’ is even an issue shows how distorted the industry has become. The tragedy of Rana Plaza in 2013 seemed to bring about the start of some form of change with high street chains agreeing to raise working standards for the workers but three years later, nothing substantial seems to have happened. ‘Ethical fashion’ should essentially just be ‘fashion’, the ethical side of it should be assumed.
What is the importance of sustainable fashion to you?
The fashion industry’s impact on the environment, especially the towns and villages where a lot of the raw materials and synthetics are produced, is far greater than most people can even imagine. Working with sustainable materials, like natural fabrics is beneficial for both the environment, but also for the consumer, natural fabrics are by far more comfortable to wear. In an ideal world, sustainable should be the norm.
What is The Ethical Silk Company?
Our product line is solely 100% eco-friendly mulberry silk products. Having begun with bedding and accessories, our range now includes ladies loungewear – silk robes, pants, slips and tops.
What makes the company unique?
The particular type of silk we use is a one of a kind. There are other types of eco-
friendly silks, but this particular mulberry one is really beautiful – it’s softer than regular silk with a pearly natural finish.
What other work are you involved in at this point in time?
At the moment I’m working on a new print for S/S17 and a future line for men & women using a different weave so that’s exciting. I also have a young family so things are pretty full on with that, to say the least….
What meaning or personal fulfillment does this work bring for you?
For quite some time before starting The Ethical Silk Company, I knew I wanted to work for myself and as trying as it can be, both mentally and financially, I wouldn’t have it any other way. The company began small but as sales grew and customers returned, I knew I was onto something. Launching the loungewear last December and the response it got really gave me the confidence to move forward. The ethical production in terms of the silk and the tailoring was always the direction I was going to take – the alternative is just not an option for me as I need to be able to stand above the company, its products and its ethos.
With regard to ethical and sustainable fashion companies, what’s the importance of them now?
It’s amazing to see how many start up fashion companies there are with such a focus on their ethos surrounding production. Now, more than ever, it’s hugely important for them to be supported and encouraged, especially as the high street stores don’t seem to be doing anything to change their labour practices. As ethically sourced products generally cost more to produce, Ecommerce has opened up so many possibilities as customers have access to companies they may not have known about before and it also helps ethical and sustainable companies keep their prices competitive as a result of selling direct. I feel transparency is central to running a sustainable business, being able to give your customers knowledge of the various stages along the production line.
Any advice for women in leadership?
Do your research, know your market and watch your cashflow like a hawk. Know your business inside out and the direction you want it to take. Listen to advice (lap it up) and bring in experts in the fields outside your expertise but at the end of the day, it is your business so remember that.
Thank you for your time, Eva.