Gandys Flip Flops – Story Behind the Brand

Gandys Gandys Flip Flops   Story Behind the Brand

I am just back from 2 weeks of gorgeous and relaxing summer hols and before I went, I treated myself to a new pair of flipflops as I always spend most of my time around the swimming pool. I decided to opt for a new brand that I discovered through the Bibico blog and whose story and mission really caught my attention.

Those who were old enough at the time will vividly remember the shocking TV footage of the 2004 tsunami that hit the coasts of Sri Lanka, India, Indonesia and Thailand on Boxing day causing devastation and misery for all those involved. Rob and Paul Forkan, founders of Gandy’s Flip Flops and were affected directly when an adventure of a lifetime with their parents working on humanitarian projects in India and Sri Lanka turned into a nightmare. They lost both their parents when the Tsunami hit the fishing town where they were staying in Sri Lanka and they both faced a very difficult journey with their brothers and sisters to find their way home to the UK from amidst the chaos that surrounded them.

Fortunately for the Forkan Children, they were supported by friends and family allowing them to finish their education. Rob and Paul got jobs in London and saved up enough money to complete the trip that they had started with their parents including returning to India.

But the story doesn’t end there. Rob and Paul wanted to find a positive end to this tragedy and decided to continue in the spirit of their parents by trying to help orphans like themselves in the countries that they had visited with their parents, orphans who weren’t lucky enough to have family and friends to support and help them as they had. After Rob woke up with a “mouth like Gandhi’s flip flop” at a festival one morning, the idea for their new flip flop brand was born. A brand that is designed in London, inspired by travel and fuelled by giving back.

Gandys is a social enterprise with 10% of all profits going to the ‘Orphans for orphans’ mission or the Gandy Foundation which is already beginning to make a difference by funding homes for orphans in India and Sri Lanka. This year the first home is opened in memory of Kevin and Sandra Forkan marking the 10th anniversary of the tsunami.

Gandys have a fantastic range of flip flops in a selection of colours and patterns. I was particularly taken by the Liberty print ones which have been pretty much welded to my feet for the last few weeks. As always with the ethical fashion brands that I love, it is great to have something that looks great but that also makes a difference.

You can find out more about Gandys story and mission or check out their collection of flip flops on www.gandysflipflops.com.

With warmest wishes

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Everybody Warm – The Story Behind The Brand

032 Everybody Warm   The Story Behind The Brand
everybody warm Everybody Warm   The Story Behind The Brand

Everybody Warm is a Social Enterprise recently set up by Kelly Tennick. When Kelly got in touch to tell me a litttle more about the story behind Everybody Warm and offer for me to try out one of their beautiful scarves of pashminas. Not only is this a great story that I think needs to be shared but also because this lovely scarf is the perfect addition to my wardrobe complimenting so many different outfits that I have!

Everybody Warm sell ethically traded scarves and pashminas sourced from North India, and then use the profits to buy blankets, duvets and sleeping bags for those in need. The first donation by Everybody Warm is scheduled with a homeless charity, Winter Comfort based in Cambridge this July, and Kelly is keen to buy as many sleeping bags for them as she can! WinterComfort work with homeless people or those at risk of losing their home. Instead of just ‘throwing’ a few blankets their way, they will be working alongside project managers to understand exactly what the needs of their clients are before funding their first donation.

The mission behind Everybody Warm is simple “to keep everybody warm”. Whilst Kelly recognises that she can’t solve all of the problems in the world, Everybody Warm is working with Giving Partners both here in the UK and abroad to make the situations of those in need a little better.

What do you think? would you like to help keep Everybody Warm with a beautiful scarf by from Everybody Warm?

Each time someone buys a scarf from Everybody Warm, it is a step in the right direction and each time they wear it, they can wear it with pride knowing that they are helping to make Everybody Warm.

You can check out the shop at Everybodywarm.co.uk

or keep up with the story by following on

Facebook or Twitter or Instagram
With warmest wishes

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Story Behind the Brand – The Feather Tree

I have just discovered the most amazing brand whilst following the Ethical Fashion Forum Brand Preview on Twitter. Before I share the lovely story behind the brand, I just wanted to share with you some of the amazing pieces featured on their website many of which are most definitely making their way onto my wishlist!

Maasai 1 Story Behind the Brand   The Feather Tree

the feather tree 4 Story Behind the Brand   The Feather Tree

Dress Story Behind the Brand   The Feather Tree

The Feather Tree 3 Story Behind the Brand   The Feather Tree

The Feather Tree 1 Story Behind the Brand   The Feather TreeThe Feather Tree 2 Story Behind the Brand   The Feather Tree

The Feather Tree was set up by Lissa and Bo inspired by their magical world filled with feathers, outrageously quirky prints, quills and skills. The brand is all about hair feathers, colourful handmade jewellery and unique clothing that combines UK trends with a contemporary Kenyan edge. Lissa and Bo saw the beautiful potential in  recycled fabrics brought from Matumba (a Kenyan Market) and traditional Masai beadwork both to create really amazing clothes and jewellery and also a seed of opportunity for people in Kenya on very low incomes. Paid per piece of clothing or jewellery, everyone involved in the manufacture benefits from every single piece sold, allowing them to supplement their incomes and build a better life. Hair feather and feathers used in The Feather Tree jewellery are ethically sourced and then dyed by Lissa and Bo.


Beadwork Story Behind the Brand   The Feather Tree

The beaded jewellery at The Feather Tree is made by Dayvid. Lissa’s family met Dayvid and when they asked about the colourful beaded belt that he was wearing, they discovered that he had made it himself. The Feather Tree was a great way to promote the amazing talents and craftmanship of Dayvid and others in Kenya allowing them to get their products to marketplace and the chance for us in the UK to buy these beautiful and unusual pieces.

Our tailor Odayo Story Behind the Brand   The Feather Tree

Odayo is the talented tailor at Feather Tree. He was born and raised in Kisumu on the shores of lake Victoria. He has completed a 4 year course in tailoring but only got the chance to use his talents in a full time role when he was discovered by Lissa’s mum working as a gardener. The money that he has earnt has helped him to build a small house for his family and he hope to be able to continue and pay for his children’s education.

The Matuba Market started in the nineties selling good quality clothing at affordable prices that had not been sold in high streets in Europe. The market is now a thriving industry creating 1000′s of jobs in Kenya and a source of interesting fabrics used in clothes made by the Feather Tree. Locally Kenya sourced Kitenge fabrics are also used to create clothing. Instead of using plastic buttons, The Feather Tree uses coconut buttons and painted beads which are handmade in Kenya in their clothes and jewellery.

You can find out more about The Feather Tree and check out their fantastic designs and hair feathers here:

www.thefeathertree.co.uk

https://www.facebook.com/TheFeatherTree

https://twitter.com/thefeathertree

Have you discovered any amazing brands with a great story to tell lately? If so please share!

With warmest wishes

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Fashion Revolution Day #Insideout #Whomadeyourclothes

Today’s post is all about Fashion Revolution Day. If you haven’t already heard, Fashion Revolution Day is going to be annual event from 24th April this year. It has been organised by key figures from the fashion industry and beyond including industry leaders, press, campaigners, consultants, representatives from charities and campaign organisations and academics, all with one common goal to drive change in the fashion industry to prevent another disaster like that of the Rana Plaza factory collapse in Bangladesh and to help raise awareness of the true cost of fashion.

The theme of the first Fashion Revolution Day is ‘who made your clothes?’ with the aim of encouraging us to become more curious about how our clothes are made and who made them. If you would like to get involved or find out more you can:

Checkout the website http://www.fashionrevolution.org
Follow Fashion Revolution on Twitter @Fash_Rev

You can also wear an item of clothing inside out, showing its label and share it through instagram, Facebook or Twitter with the #insideout and the question ‘who made your clothes?’

I have been taking a look at some of the labels on my own clothes and considering who, where and how they have been made. Here is what I have found out.
015  Fashion Revolution Day #Insideout #Whomadeyourclothes

This label is on a top which I got from a clothes swap. It is originally from the Cacharel Vintage Collection at Uniqlo. It was made in China. Whilst they do rate better than many of the other high street shops in the Ethical Consumer Shopping Guide to the High Street there is a lack of information about how their clothes are manufactured on their website. You can read more in this post on Ethical Nippon.

New Look  Fashion Revolution Day #Insideout #Whomadeyourclothes

This label is from a red New Look dress which I bought from Oxfam. It was made in China. New Look actually come out top of the list in the Ethical Consumer Guide and they do seem to have a fairly comprehensive ethical policy although their score 10/20 would suggest that there is still a fair amount of room for improvement. There is also some more in depth information about them on Labour Behind the Label although it is from 2011 so I guess things may have changed.
039  Fashion Revolution Day #Insideout #Whomadeyourclothes
This dress is from the Orla Kiely collection at People Tree and is made in India from organic and fairtrade cotton. People Tree have made a strong commitment to fair trade and ethical manufacture of clothing and they work to create sustainable livelihoods for people in some of the poorest parts of the world. Organic and Fairtrade cotton also means that the farmers receive a fair price and that there is no child labour in the supply chain. There is plenty of information about the co operatives that People Tree work with on their website.

Do you every look at the labels on your clothes and wonder who made them?

With warmest wishes

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Earth Kind Originals – Story Behind the Brand

founder eko1 Earth Kind Originals   Story Behind the Brand

I was recently sent a lovely organic cotton dress by Earth Kind Originals. I really loved the dress and the ethos of the brand and its connections with Cornwall, a place that holds many happy memories for me. I was lucky enough to catch up with Helen Davies, the founder of EKO and find out a little more about the story behind the brand.

EKO organic day dress mulberry 3 261x300 Earth Kind Originals   Story Behind the Brand

EKO Organic Day Dress - Mulberry

Why did you decide to set up Earth Kind Originals and what do you hope to achieve?

I set up EKO after wanting to relocate back to the Cornwall where I grew up, from London where I had established my fashion career. I completed a BA/Honours in fashion design at Surrey Institute of Art and Design and then worked in the commercial fashion industry in London. It was great experience. I frequently traveled to factories in Europe and China, I attended seasonal inspirational buying trips to Paris and worked my way up through the design teams. My last full time role was at JoJo Maman Bebe, where I was in charge of their large maternity collection, from soft separates to evening wear and everything in between. This was a fantastic experience but not an environment I could see myself working in forever. I always imagined myself working and designing by the sea. My Father and Grandfather had their own businesses and I always felt that I wanted to do the same, I think its was in my blood to do my own thing. So I took a leap of faith four years ago and ventured into the unknown and moved back to Cornwall to start EKO, and wow it’s been a real adventure!

What inspired the brand and the designs?

The final collection of my degree was based around ethical and organic fashion, and I furthered my knowledge in this area developing successful organic commercial ranges. Seeing the positive impact you can have within the fashion industry and the growing market for organics was an eye opener. I love simple and contemporary design from Japanese designers like Issey Miyake, to the functional design of Muji and how everyday items can be elegantly simple, functional and sustainable.

sennen cove cornwall 300x200 Earth Kind Originals   Story Behind the Brand

Sennen Cove Cornwall

Please tell more about what you love most about Cornwall? where are your favourite places in Cornwall?

I love Cornwall for the creative people it attracts and the beautiful coastline, it’s what inspires me and keeps my mind fresh with new ideas. As for places I like here goes:

• beach – the long stretch of golden sand from Godrevy and Gwithian to Hayle River – I surf their on a regular basis, a lovely beach break with a great cafe – perfect for a cuppa, catch up and meetings, business and pleasure
• gallery – the Tate Barbra Hepworth gallery / gardens is a lovely tranquil space in St.Ives (a hub for artists) where her sculptures are set around beautiful gardens – a constant inspiration for natural form and sculptural drape
• local cafe – up the road from the EKO HQ is the Cook Book in St.Just a cafe / book shops just off the main square and a great Friday afternoon treat
• Walk – a lunchtime walk for us is down the road to Cot Valley a unique place where smooth rounded boulders deposited by ancient glaciers meet the rough seas of the Atlantic make. On calm days it’s a great place to find a hidden spot amongst the rocks and cliffs and look out for dolphins and seals or just layback amongst the pink Armeria

Why have you chosen to use organic cotton and other sustainable fabrics to make

EKO organic tube dress grey 3 261x300 Earth Kind Originals   Story Behind the Brand

EKO Organic Tube Dress - Grey

your clothes?

We use Turkish organic cotton which has a fully traceable supply chain, it is GOTS approved by the Soil Association and can be tracked back the farmers and fields, this is very important to us. Our organic cotton is grown, spun, knitted and garments are produced all in the same area of Turkey which makes the supply chain efficient and lowering the environmental impact. We also use Tencel which is made from eucalyptus fibre from European suppliers Lenzing in Austria, again we can track back to source. We work closely with fibre, fabric and garment manufacturers to understand exactly where and how our clothes are made from ground to garment.

How do you ensure that your clothes made with respect for people and planet? do you have any ethical/ organic certifications?

Yes we are GOTS certified and approved by the organic exchange with ISO working standards. We visit our production factory regularly and have a strict supplier manual to ensure all ethical criteria are followed. Our supply chain is very important to us and we work hard to maintain a transparent working relationship with them.

Where are your clothes made?

All of our collection is made in Turkey in one factory – its small, family run and we have been working with them for 3 years now, we see them as part of the EKO family and part of our success – we could not have got where we are now, without them.

EKO organic tube dress skirt 2 261x300 Earth Kind Originals   Story Behind the Brand

EKO Organic tube dress skirt

What kind of women wear your clothes?

The great thing is there is not a certain age or stereotype. When we do shows there are mothers and daughters that will both buy from us, often the same garments but for different reasons. We see elegant older ladies that just want something soft and organic against their skin. We have a large yoga following and some of our designs are specifically create with this in mind. A number of boutique spa hotels including the beautiful Scarlet Spa in Mawgen Porth near Newquay incorporate many items from our collection into their uniform. I guess it shows our range is versatile and timeless which is what we have aimed to achieve. We have our selected garment road testers and rely a customer feedback to improve how we do things every season.

Setting up an eco fashion brand can be a challenge, what have you found to be the biggest challenges and what do you love most about what you do?

The biggest challenge is coming from a design background and having deal with not very creative business side of running the company. Trying to juggle the creative elements with the day-to-day less exiting stuff. Its all new to me which is scary but at the same time very rewarding. Having a customer ring up at the end of a long day and tell you how their go-to EKO dress is still going strong after 3 years and they still love it. I love waking up in the morning, dealing with different challenges, some fun, some stressful, but knowing I can easily escape to the coast for a surf, a wild swim or just windy walk and come back refreshed and ready to carry on building EKO into the successful brand I dream it will be.

050 a Earth Kind Originals   Story Behind the Brand

A big thank you to Helen and EKO for sharing this inspiring story and sending me one of their lovely dresses to try out. It is definitely one of the most comfortable items in my wardrobe and its simplicity makes it very easy to wear and style. I have already worn it quite a few times. In the above picture I am wearing it with a scarf from Hoss Intropia.

You can check out the Earth Kind Originals website here: www.earthkindoriginals.co.uk

With warmest wishes

Johari – The Story Behind the Brand

108 Johari   The Story Behind the Brand

132 Johari   The Story Behind the Brand

Last week was World Fair Trade Day and I decided to wear my Johari Tafriji dress as I love the pink colour and leopard design but also because I wanted to celebrate a brand that is really making a difference to peoples lives in Africa. I am also featuring Johari in my ‘Story Behind the Brand’ series as I think there is a really interesting story behind their clothes.

Johari’s Philosphy is simple, they believe that fashion should be ethical, stylish and beautiful. Johari means ‘something precious’ in Swahili and each piece of clothing and jewellery is handmade in Kenya by Social Enterprise Johari Designs. Johari empowers vunerable young adults to build a living for themselves and their families.

I have posted about Johari in the past here so thought that this time I would focus on the story of just one people behind the brand.

In its work with schools the Johari Foundation has recognised a need for support of particular children with their educational and social needs. They aim to help improve the employment prospects and provide long term economic opportunities for children who don’t have high academic achievements and avoid them being caught in a trap of poverty, drugs or prostitution.

agnes Johari   The Story Behind the Brand

Agnes (pictured above) is just one of the girls that has been employed by Johari as an apprentice on their Miale Scholarshop Scheme in Naorobi Kenya. 100% of the profits from the sales of Johari products go into funding this project.

Agnes says

“Ever since joining Johari as an apprentice my life has changed for the better. At Johari I have found a team that has encouraged me to look at life positively and found a reason to believe in a possibility of a good future. I have so far perfected my skills in dressmaking, and I’m familiar with purchasing of the workshop materials”.

Agnes has been working in the Johari designs studio, a bright airy space with plenty of natural daylight on the top floor of a building in central Narobi, since 2008. The workshop is well equipped with sewing machines, overlockers and jewellery making equipment. Agnes’s roles at Johari include making sure the production department have the necessary materials, sourcing and purchasing at least twice a week and compiling weekly reports. She says that her favourite aspect of working with Johari is purchasing as she gets to meet lots of different suppliers. She also likes unique items like the Ungana Necklace.

As part of the scholarship, apprentices are be given the opportunity to gain exposure to all aspects of the design, manufacturing and sales process. The girls  divide their time between hand making intricate jewellery and dress making. They work between 9am and 5pm with 2 breaks and an hour for lunch and recieve £100 per month in pay plus access to people who can help with any social issues that they have including additional support with housing if needed.

neema dress Johari   The Story Behind the Brand

 

 

Neema Dress
Haki necklace Johari   The Story Behind the Brand Haki Necklace
If you would like to find out more about Johari Designs and the fantastic work that they are doing and check out their fantastic clothes and accessories, please check out www.johari.co.uk. You can also find out more about Agnes on the Johari blog here and meet the rest of the team here.

With warmest wishes

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Story Behind the Brand – The Nakate Project

nakate project 3 Story Behind the Brand   The Nakate Projectnyota white Story Behind the Brand   The Nakate Projecttata Story Behind the Brand   The Nakate Projectblack necklace Story Behind the Brand   The Nakate ProjectThe Nakate Project was founded by Shanley Knox on returning to California after living in Uganda. The brand brings the beautiful work of East African artisans to high fashion with accessories for adventurous bold women (just like those who have made them).

Shanley was inspired by the stories her father told about objects collected when travelling and she began to collect her own wearable pieces from her travels, each one was imbued with memories and stories from the locations that she has visited. She used these accessories to introduce these stories and memories into her daily life.

‘Nakate’, the name of the project is associated with a memory that is particularly poignant for Shanley. Nakate was a nine year old girl that she met in a Ugandan village called Kakooge. She lived with her aunt,  a local prostitute after losing both her mother and father to Aids. It was Shanley’s desire to connect Nakate to the role models in her own society that lead to the Nakate Project and its business model of connecting African talent to women in remote villages to nourish artistic growth and development.  The Nakate project was launched after Shanley’s 21st birthday in collaboration with celebrity stylist Antonio Esteban and individual artisans in Uganda.

She hopes that each of the pieces of jewellery will act as a reminder to the wearer to express the adventurous, bold woman that lives in each of them and to use the unique aesthetic of the jewellery to celebrate a part of the world that teaches us to live more deeply!

The Nakate Project also works to create artisans in rural areas of Uganda that we see as previously untapped or undervalued. They help in providing income for women that are struggling to support themselves and, for many of them, the families that are relying on their income. The project also adheres to fair trade principles and environmentally friendly practices including maximizing the use of raw materials from sustainably managed sources, buying locally where possible and encouraging our artisans to work in environments of their choosing – which are often in the open air.

This post is the first part of my new series Story Behind the Brand where I share with you the inspiring stories behind some amazing ethical fashion brands.

What do you think? do you love this story? I know I could definitely do with a little reminder to be adventurous and bold and live more deeply sometimes.

With warmest wishes

Ceri x

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