My sister took these photos the other week while we were out doing some errands. I am wearing a version of the squirrel dress; for the first time since I started the label, I finally took the time to make one of my designs for myself! It is made up in a sweet little burgundy vintage floral cotton, with a slightly shorter hemline than the original dress.
Last Tuesday I went to a seminar on Australian ethical and sustainable fashion, which was part of Melbourne Spring Fashion Week. It ended up really being about small scale production, rather than focussing much on sustainable practices and techniques. That was fine by me though, because I have a small scale fashion business! ;) It is true that keeping a fashion business small scale and local is, by it's very nature, likely to avoid the ethical issues of large scale manufacture, which is prone to end up being produced overseas in countries where labour is cheap but working conditions are questionable. So, discussing small scale and ‘slow’ fashion was certainly still relevant to the topic I guess!
The speakers talked a lot about their own experiences in design, production and retail on the small scale, and it was cool to hear that it is indeed possible to make the decision to stay small, and still actually make enough money to live off! (I’m sure the speakers on the night are far more successful than simply attaining minimum wage, but even that idea is super exciting to me because my goal right now is to be able to live off my sewing full time!)
The whole thing got me thinking about this crazy old experience of starting my own business. I have learnt so much, and am learning so much, all the time! It really is exciting to me, the constant puzzle solving of how to fit together my values, my creative passion, and develop my business skills to try and make a viable future for myself with it all. At the moment I feel that all of these areas could do with improvement, and I really want to work on that. It can get a bit overwhelming sometimes though, so I am just trying to break it down and do something every day to learn more, or to improve my work. I am also trying to make sure that I accept opportunities and challenges that scare me.
Anyway, it was really cool to see that MSFW actually organised the event in the first place. It’s great to know that people are finally starting to appreciate the importance of discussing ethical and sustainable fashion at these mainstream fashion events. I know that ‘green’ fashion is starting to get more attention, but sometimes it can get discouraging. At the end of the day, fashion is an incredibly problematic industry and I find it really hard dealing with the fact that the creative outlet I love so much is also so often hopelessly damaging to people and our planet. So much conflict in my soul! The event energised me a bit on this front though, and I came away inspired to keep on working to piece together the jigsaw puzzle, and keep trying to get better. There is so much to learn...