An Interview with Bea of Heke Design

Bea was born in Australia as the youngest of 3 kids. She moved to Canada at the age of 7. She worked in the music touring industry for a while. In between the music touring, she designed for her fashion brand Beazworx. She then founded Heke Design. Here is her story.

Tell us about family background – geography, culture, language, and religion.

Born in Australia, youngest of 3 kids. Moved to Canada at 7 years old

Tell us about your story – education, prior work, and so on?

After high school, I started working in the music touring industry. First as lighting tech, then wardrobe, production, tour manager and personal assistant. Toured for about 20 years all around Europe, Canada, USA, Australia and NZ. Worked with artists like k.d Lang, The Tragically Hip, Colin James, BNL and Leonard Cohen and Diana Krall.

As for my fashion background tho, I’m mostly self taught. I have been sewing since I was 10, and while living in Vancouver I did a short diploma in fashion merchandising.

Then in between touring I managed to design for my Vancouver fashion brand called Beazworx.

How did you get interested in ethical and sustainable fashion?

I have always been an avid recycler and 2nd hand shopper, so when I learned of the massive amount of clothing thrown out from op shops, I simply HAD to do something about it.

Since I had just moved to New Zealand and was looking for something to do…Heke design began, and I’ve since discovered there is a whole underground, and growing movement of upcyclers all over the world.

What seems like the importance of ethical and sustainable fashion designers and companies?

We can not continue to use up the earth’s resources, damage the planet with chemicals and pestisides or exploit workers. So the more designers and companies doing this the more it will become the norm.

What seems like the importance of fair trade?

Caring for and supporting the makers. a general respect for all humans is just the right thing to do.

What makes slow fashion better than fast fashion?

The craft.

Slow fashion cares about the story behind the garment, there is a respect for the clothing, the craft and the maker.

The Brundtland Commission Report described the need for sustainability. In that, we, the human species, need to meet the “needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs” for long-term sustainability. Does this seem correct to you?

I think we have more than enough to meet our needs (with-out compromising the future), but the issue is our imaginary “needs” that are fueled by the corporate marketing machines.

What is Heke Design?

Heke design is an upcycled, one of a kind, affordable, colourful eco fashion.

What inspired the title of the organization?

I live on Waiheke island, so heke comes from that.

heke is a maori word meaning” to descend, migrate, coming to.” and Wai is water

What are some of its feature products?

Our hoody top is a popular one, I do a summer and winter version, Colourful with lots of interesting prints and T shirt images. Also the all wool sweatercoat.

What are the main fibres and fabrics used in the products?

I use a lot of cotton T shirts, wool jumpers, jeans. For me, its about seeing what items are being thrown out en masse, and making them beautiful.

Who grows, harvests, designs, and manufactures the products of Heke Design?

I design everything.

What is the customer base – the demographics?

Women about 30-60. Usually with a definite eco interest, but also women that want something unique and colourful.

Did someone mentor you?

Not really, but I do have a business coach, and several supportive friends and fellow designers

Have you mentored others?

Not in an official way; although, I’ve had a few students approach me, and I’m always happy to offer any support and consulting to any upcyclers, I certainly love the collaborative brainstorming that can happen with artistic projects.

What personal fulfillment comes from this work for you?

The satisfaction of knowing how much i am keeping out of the landfill.

Any other work at this time?

I do some teaching and upcycle workshops.

Any recommended means of contacting, even becoming involved with, you?


What seems like the greatest emotional struggle in business for you?

Sometimes its overwhelming, the amount of waste, and i just can not take it all.
Thank you for your time, Bea

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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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