An Interview with Rita Summers of Gone Rustic (Part Two)

Continued from Part 1 here

Children are the most vulnerable population. Women tend to have less status than men in societies including the right to decent working conditions, decent pay, to vote, and so on. What is the relationship between the need to implement women’s rights and children’s rights?

I think they are inextricably linked.  Women are still the main caregivers, and are thus in a very good position to make informed decisions on what is ultimately good for them and for their children.  It is important to give women the opportunity to have a say at all levels in the light of this.

Cotton top Eco dyed with organic leaves and flowers

Cotton top Eco dyed with naturally with leaves and flowers

Child labour and slavery are problems, major ones. These include children throughout the world. Tens of millions of children in the case of child labour and a few million for child slavery. How can individuals get the word out about these other rights violations?

First, we need to care. We have become somewhat desensitized due to an overload of media and information.  We need to consider the impact of certain practices as happening to real human beings. We also need to do our best to make a difference in our own communities and work practices to start with.  One person can make a difference.  We also have more opportunities to share information about inequalities through the internet, but it is getting harder to verify the sources and accuracy of information.  I guess the key thing is, change needs to start with ME.

How can individuals, designers, fashion industries, and consumers begin to work to implement those rights so that these vulnerable populations in many countries of the world have better quality of life?

As I said earlier in this interview, people in the industry and consumers will actually benefit from changing their attitudes and practices, including financially.  One online business I have looked at is providing housing and education to its workers, and the payback is better productivity and standard of product. (

What topics most interest you?

Fashion, art, design, sustainability, natural dyes, stitching in all its forms – not necessarily in that order!

Did you have a mentor in this work?

Over the years, I have attended many workshops with both local and international tutors.  They have all played an important part in mentoring me, but I do work alone a lot.

Gone Rustic collection

Gone Rustic collection

Have you mentored others?

Yes, by hosting and/or tutoring workshops, hosting exhibitions, and working with small groups and individuals. This has taken place mostly at my business, but also sometimes at other venues and events around Australia.

What are the importance of mentors in the fashion world for professional, and personal, development?

I think it is important, so that good ethics and practices can be shared.  Sometimes people have a certain mindset, and having a mentor can help them to see new possibilities and make attitudinal changes.

From personal observations, more women than men involve themselves in the fashion industry by a vast margin of difference at all levels. Why?

This could be because people think that the fashion industry isn’t an acceptable masculine line of work.  Having said that, we have a male couturier and teacher in Launceston, so it can happen!  I think we should focus more on talent and opportunity for all, rather than just gender.

What personal fulfillment comes from this work for you?

I find it immensely satisfying.  I love doing what I do, and I’m very content with where I am and where I am heading.

What other work are you involved in at this point in time?

I am on a local committee which has just established a local handmade market this year, focusing on the talents of our local artists, makers and producers.  I handle the publicity, and I also participate as a stallholder. (

From time to time I also write for magazines.  My most recent published article is ‘Collaborating with Nature’, in the current issue of Down Under Textiles (produced by Practical Publishing Pty Ltd).

Any recommended authors or fashionistas (or fashionistos)?

I am intrigued by Julian Roberts’ subtraction pattern cutting ideas, and would like to pursue my own designs using his methods. I also love India Flint’s work, particularly her costume designs.

Any recommended means of contacting Gone Rustic?

I can be contacted via email or online:

Any feelings or thoughts in conclusion based on the conversation today?

One thing I would like to stress is that it is never too late to follow your dreams.  Age is not an issue – energy, ideas and enthusiasm are not limited unless we limit them. Often it is our own mindset that we need to overcome.

I really appreciate your giving me the opportunity to talk about what I do via this interview – thank you!

Thank you for your time, Rita.

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About the Author

Scott Douglas Jacobsen researches and presents independent panels, papers, and posters, and with varied research labs and groups, and part-time in landscaping and gardening, and runs In-Sight Publishing and In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal.

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