Meet Loreto, the founder of Anima by Loreto, a fashion label that ticks all of our criteria and then some.
Sometimes we come across those brands that we just can’t look past—the way their products are made ticks all of our criteria, the materials are sourced with sustainability in mind, and the outcome of this sweet ethical collaboration is a product that will not only last a very long time but is also basically a wearable piece of art.
Anima is one of these brands, and the founder behind it, Loreto, has one of the most incredible stories to tell.
We dive deep in this interview to learn more about why she started Anima, who makes her garments and why she chose the materials she works with.
What made you start Anima?
As a fashion designer I’ve always dreamed of having my own label. I first started by making digitally printed silk scarves around five years ago. Then I took a job as a drawing and design lecturer in Hanoi, Vietnam, and that opened up a window of opportunity. Suddenly I was surrounded by beautiful textiles and tailors, which is something that’s not as easily found in other parts of the world. Travelling around I was inspired by the traditional clothing, and learnt about the different materials and natural dyeing methods. I started making clothes for myself, and the following year I decided to create my first small collection. I wanted my label to combine my background in design and illustration with my passion for sustainability and ethical business. I’ve now released my second collection and hopefully there will be many more.
Do you have a morning routine? If so what is it you do to set yourself up for the day ahead?
I love my mornings! Most days I start the day right by doing some exercise, usually a run or some yoga. And of course I need coffee, and some breakfast (my favorite meal of the day). I like to give myself time in the morning and clear my head as it really sets the mood for a productive day.
What’s the biggest barrier you’ve found to succeeding as a socially conscious business?
The biggest barrier I’ve faced would definitely be the price point. Producing ethical clothes in small quantities is expensive. You have to be very motivated and determined to do things sustainably and ethically as it is a lot more work than creating fast fashion. I like to work with local people to support the local economy. But I think you need to be very clear and make sure people understand the concept of sustainability so that you get the right product. I have definitely learnt from my mistakes!
Within the ethical fashion community, there’s a big question that we ask which is ‘who made my clothes?’. In the scope of Anima, who made your clothes? Can you tell us a bit about them?
Yes for sure! My clothes are made in a small workshop in Hanoi run by a woman named Tuyet. She employs 10 machinist, 2 pattern makers and cutters, and about 4 women that do quality control, ironing, and shipping. She also has her own fashion line for kids and works for other small businesses. They use the first and second floor of her mother’s house as the workshop.
I also work with my friend Lan who is from the Hmong ethnic community. She uses her traditional indigo dyeing technique on my most special fabrics. We’ve known each other for 5 years now and I just love working with her!
Why did you pick the fabrics/materials that you have chosen to work with?
I love travelling and searching for textiles everywhere I go. Most of the fabrics I use come from places I have visited where I’ve had the opportunity to purchase them in person. I chose to work with silk in Vietnam as it is known for its silk production. I purchased organic cotton when I was in Peru. And the rest of my materials come from Hemp Fortex, a company dedicated to creating sustainable and eco friendly textiles. I started anima. because I wanted to work with sustainable and ethical textiles, so this is always front of mind.
Best piece of advice you have ever received?
Just go for it and don’t wait until everything is perfect. I have had to learn to let things go and stop comparing myself to bigger brands. I have to remind myself that everyone has their own path and it takes time to establish a brand. So I think in the end patience and persistence is key.
What’s next for you and Anima?
My current collection is very limited edition (from 1-10 pieces), so I am trying to figure out what my customers like and what sells. I’m looking to expand my business, and the first step will be increasing my production. I’ll also look to work with more artisans who use natural dyeing and printing techniques. And one day I hope to add men’s clothes into my collection.
One book everyone should read? Why?
Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind: Informal Talks on Zen Meditation and Practice, by Shunryu Suzuki.
The book shares a message that really resonates with me: in the beginner’s mind there are so many possibilities, yet in the expert’s mind there are few.
Often when we think we’re experts in an area, we stop learning. But this book teaches us that there are infinite solutions to problems, and that we should always have an open mind. It taught me to open my mind when dealing with difficult situations and how to (try to) keep calm in the process.
One documentary everyone should watch? Why?
Our Planet. It’s so beautiful, and apart from the fact that it deals with the most important issue we are currently facing (climate change), the imagery is incredible. It’s a beautiful reminder about our planet and how important it is to take care of it.
Are there any other Movers & Shakers out there in your world that you think people should know about?
Yes! I have to say that the biggest inspiration to go ahead with my brand came from a trip I did to Sa Pa in Vietnam with my friend Donna from Haute Culture Textile Tours. While we were there we met Megan and Gab from Walk Sew Good, and my friend Lan from Hemp & Embroidery. Lan works so closely with her community to give jobs to people in need. I really admire how she is keeping her traditions alive and supporting her community.
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