You know how sometimes someone just comes into your life and challenges your values and everything you thought you knew about the world? That was Amber for me in the form of the explore tab on Instagram. I came across her account one day well over a year ago, before i’d seen The True Cost documentary or really knew anything about ethical fashion.
Amber is the mastermind behind @ethicalfashionblogger and @baiia_label (handmade reversible bikini’s made out of ocean waste and ghost fishing nets-can I get a hell yeah?!). Her posts and blog have provided so much insight to a world I’d never heard of, and she has ultimately influenced my daily life with what I consume and how I act. That being said, I couldn’t be more excited to have her on EME as part of this segment.
I hope you enjoy every minute of reading this interview, I know I did!
WHAT DID YOU HAVE FOR BREAKFAST THIS MORNING?
I actually played around with a new smoothie recipe:
Kale, banana, medjool dates, coconut milk, cacao powder and ice!
WHAT MADE YOU START ETHICALFASHIONBLOGGER?
I’ve always loved fashion. I think it had something to do with spending my early years in the Solomon Islands, and observing how different cultural outfits signified a different level of status within the community. When I moved to Australia, I found that this was ofcourse universal. I went onto studying Fashion and became interested in how the very powerful industry could be a catalyst for good. Then at the age of 21, I embarked on a year long trip from Mexico, down to Peru with the aim of employing women from rural villages to create beautiful, distinctive Latin American textiles and garments. My idea was to sell these authentic, beautiful pieces here in Australia, while helping to preserve these traditional textile practises and empowering the women of these villages with fair employment.
Unfortunately, after a few unsafe experiences, I had to cut the trip short. Upon my arrival home I was offered a job CUE. It was there were I learnt the importance of investing in high quality, beautifully fitted and timeless garments. With most of their range being made in Australia, CUE is listed as one of the ‘most ethical Australian labels’ according to ECA. I’m usually quite skeptical when it comes to titles like these. I also studied marketing so I was well aware of ‘green-washing’. I started digging deeper into what it actually meant to be an ‘ethical fashion’ label. Turns out there are a lot more factors than just being made in Australia. I also learnt just how much of an impact it had on our planet and was astonished at how hush-hush it’s all kept (considering I studied fashion and no one ever mentioned just how tolling the industry is!) I wanted to share my findings with others, and starting a blog became a natural extension of that.
YOU HAVE GONE AND LIVED THE TALK BY CREATING THE MOST INCREDIBLE SWIMWEAR LABLE BAIIA WHICH I AM INCREDIBLY INLOVE WITH. I’M WONDERING WHAT MADE YOU CHOOSE SWIMWEAR? WILL YOU BE EXTENDING TO OTHER PRODUCTS?
The 2016 Summer was approaching, and I couldn’t find a bikini that I absolutely loved. I have a few boxes that need to be checked before I purchase anything, but a big one is versatility. There was really nothing out there checking all the boxes. So I made my own! A friend of mine wanted a pair – and then I figured others might like them too. And that’s how Baiia came to be.
I’m currently in the process of extending to a full beachwear range! Having spent the earliest years of my life in the Solomon Islands, and later growing up on the east coast of QLD, I’ve always felt a deep connection to the ocean, and living with respect to it. Ironically, there are no beachwear labels that I know of that have business practises with respect to the ocean. But I really plan to change that.
WHAT HAS BEEN THE MOST CHALLENGING PART OF STARTING UP BAIIA?
I’m a naturally a very sensitive person, and the world of business is one where there is little room for sensitivity. My sensitivity allows me to connect with others & create, yet it is also very consuming. My practicality keeps me grounded, yet prevents me from thinking outside the box. Finding the balance has been quite difficult.
Oh, and another major challenge has been time management for sure!
BEST PIECE OF ADVICE YOU HAVE EVER RECEIVED?
“When in doubt, spend time in nature. Breathe. Listen to the trees.” – my mum.
My mum actually writes meditation books for children, and despite all of 3 of us (my sibling and I) practically being raised by a single mum, we’ve all had quite a happy and grounded childhood. I would credit a lot of who I am today to her teachings and unconditional love.
WHAT DOES YOUR EVERYDAY MORNING LOOK LIKE?
I work for an online Bamboo Linen Store part of the week, but if I’m not working I’ll usually sleep in until 9. For 5 minutes, I then meditate on what I’m grateful for, do some breathing exercises and then go for a jog. By 10am I’m then making breakfast and checking emails.
HOW DO YOU DEFINE SUCCESS?
My definition of success has changed a lot over the years, and no doubt it will continue to do so. But really, I think success is creating a lifestyle in which you have the freedom to spend time 1) with those you love 2) doing things you love 3) sharing that love.
ONE PIECE OF ADVICE YOU WOULD GIVE TO OTHERS STARTING OUT?
It’s seriously an all-consuming path to take. Please, only do something you are so desperately passionate about – that will give you the energy to keep going when the hard times set in (which they will) but what you learn from the experience, regardless if your business makes money or not, will be absolutely worth its weight in gold.
WHAT’S ONE BOOK YOU THINKING EVERYBODY SHOULD READ?
We are all Stardust by Stefan Klein. It perfectly illustrates the absolute magic of our planet, the universe and the mystery that is the natural world. It’s always so humbling to read.
AND LASTLY, ARE THERE ANY OTHER MOVERS & SHAKERS OUT THERE IN YOUR WORLD THAT YOU THINK WE SHOULD ALL KNOW ABOUT?
There are quite a few I follow but I’ll mention some from the top of my head 🙂
Yael Aflalo – founder of the Reformation.
Suzanne Lee – founder of Biocouture (pioneer in the fashion-meets-science scene)
Clara Vuletich – advocate for sustainable textile/fashion