Most people know the refugee crisis is a major issue that I care very strongly about, it’s something I’ve spoken about more than once on this blog. Whenever I come across a company working in some way to empower, support and advocate for those affected by the crisis, I do my best to learn more about them and bring more attention to their work. So I’m so happy today to bring you an interview with the creators of From Found, a new ethical, zero waste fashion brand in Australia, who are currently crowd funding to start full production of their line.
Made in Adelaide, each From Found piece is crafted by women from refugee or asylum seeker backgrounds, using ‘found’ fabrics to create unique, colour-popping creations take a stand against the environmental and ethical issues of fast fashion. From Found believes that all women have skills and strengths to contribute to society, and every woman should have the opportunity to do so. Women from refugee backgrounds possess many practical skills and talents; often they’ve had professions in their home countries, with qualifications that go unrecognised when resettling. Because the women are nearly always responsible for setting up the home and settling the family in to their new life, they can become the most isolated members of the family, detached from wider groups and opportunities. From Found employs women to use their skills in sewing, while increasing their English capacity, cultural knowledge and confidence, working towards seeing them transition into other workplaces or further study.
Below is my interview with Annie, one of the founders of this awesome brand, who told me more…
How did you get into ethical fashion?
From Found is the creation of three women – sisters Lauren and Annie, and family friend Hannah. Although we knew each other for years, it was the idea for the label that brought us together. Hannah has extensive experience in the fashion industry along with knowledge in marketing and digital strategy. Lauren is a passionate social worker, while Annie’s expertise lies in human resources and business management. Our experiences and areas of knowledge are very different, much like our individual styles, however our shared values and complementing skills sets have allowed us to form a beautiful and supportive ideal team. Before From Found, we were all individually aware of the lack of ethical standards and horrific environmental impact of fast fashion. Hannah, in particular, saw the wastage and environmental impact of fast fashion first hand as she worked in the industry. However, it was through her studies in Helsinki that she became increasingly aware of the importance of sustainability, this is what motivated her to stop working in the mainstream industry.
What made you decide to start From Found? Why did you want to work with refugees?
Through Lauren’s work in community development, as well as having friends from refugee backgrounds, she saw the challenges and barriers women in particular faced with entering the workforce. She recognised the possibility of combining these women’s strengths in sewing and creativity with the opportunity to build up transferable skills and experiences for further work or study. From here the idea developed to create a fashion label that ethically employed these women as machinists in Adelaide and used recovered, recycled and upcycled textiles – ‘found’ fabrics. We wanted to make people aware of the issues they are buying into with fast fashion and know that clothing can still encompass style, creativity and quality while remaining ethical and sustainable.
What were your main goals starting the company?
Our mission is to bring creative, ethical and sustainable clothing to the mainstream fashion market through the employment of refugee and asylum seeker women. We hope to see these women, empowered with further skills and training, transition into the mainstream workforce in Australia, and to educate and inspire consumers to choose sustainable and ethical fashion.
How did you develop your designs?
We worked collaboratively to construct the designs. We wanted to create a sustainable and ethical label that also produced clothing of high quality and design. Each piece would be fun to wear and full of colour. We only use recovered and recycled textiles, allowing each piece to be completely unique and also to give new life to fabrics that might have otherwise been discarded. These fabrics could come from second hand clothing still in great condition, left over materials in someone’s sewing room, end-of-roll pieces, factory remnants – any good quality fabric that would otherwise be forgotten or wasted.
How has the response been so far?
The response to From Found has been extremely positive. From the beginning we received a lot of interest and support from friends and family, which really helped push us to continue with the idea and get From Found off the ground. But throughout our crowd funder that interest has spread to include local publications, various organisations and lots of very generous people who none of us personally know. It has been hugely encouraging to see the support for From Found grow over the past few weeks of the crowd funder.
What are your plans for the future?
At the moment our plans for the future are focused on the women employed by the organisation. Ideally what we want for From Found is that one day these women from refugee and asylum seeker backgrounds will be involved in all areas of the business. Not only the sewing of the clothing but that they’d also be involved in the design of the pieces, the marketing, the selling as well as the managing and leadership roles. The idea of their employment at From Found is that they are able to develop a whole range of transferable skills so that they are able to confidently enter the mainstream workforce.
I really believe in what From Found is doing, and I think if you’re looking for something totally unique, waste free and ethically made, as well as supporting community development and refugee resettlement, you can’t go wrong with From Found. They’re currently raising funds and offering some really cool rewards in return (discount prices, hello!)
And until next time, stay magic y’all.