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Brand Interview

  • Brand Interview: Sweet Cavanagh

    1. What is Sweet Cavanagh?

    Sweet Cavanagh is a unique jewelry brand where all the designer-makers are women in recovery from eating disorders and addictions. Our workshop is not only a place of creativity and design, but also of personal growth where the most brilliant life changes are made. Each designer cultivates her own style, which often develops as her confidence and self-esteem grows.

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    2. Why did you decide to launch a socially responsible label?

    The first reason for starting this company was to create a place where women could come and get free support whilst fighting to find recovery. I recognized a gap in the services offered by the NHS and realized that there is next to no free care for people suffering with eating disorders. In my own personal experience I found jewelry making to be very therapeutic, so I realized that if we could combine both the recovery aspect and the design aspect, we could potentially make a social enterprise. It was only when my partner Maxine came on board that we were able to fully realize our potential. As a licensed therapist Maxine has added a whole new dimension to the workshop and we now offer one on one and group therapy in addition to the jewelry-making workshop.

    
3. What was the inspiration behind the collection?

    Our collection is inspired by the courage and strength demonstrated by each of our craftswomen day in and out. Each of these women has overcome tremendous hurdles to be where they are today. The bright colors and bold designs reflect their creativity and unique personalities, which they are finally getting to experience as they embrace recovery. Each designer has her own sense of style, making our collection eclectic and oh so special. Each piece is one of a kind, as are each of our craftswomen.

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    4. Tell us about the positive impact Sweet Cavanagh has had on the people and the environment.

    Research has proven that jewelry making can augment one’s well being by increasing one’s self esteem and reducing stress and anxiety, all of which reduce one’s risk of relapse.  Coming to our workshop also helps women to build a sober support network; thus, combating the isolation that is often faced by those suffering from addictions and/or eating disorders. Our program gives women a place to go and introduces them to women who understand their history. This gives them accountability and enhances their feelings of connectedness, thus reducing loneliness. The support groups and individual counseling that we offer further enhance these assets. In the past year, Sweet Cavanagh has helped over twenty women transition back into full time work and/or education.

    Sweet Cavanagh also gives women an opportunity to become self-employed as jewelry designers and creators by paying each woman a living wage for each piece of theirs that sells. This is especially important, as many women have been in treatment and out of work for quite some time. Additionally, individuals are given the opportunity to learn about the business side of the enterprise, which allows them to develop skills in marketing, advertising, and data entry, all of which will enhance their feelings of confidence as well as their CV! This sense of purpose is something that many could not have imagined when they were in the depths of their illness.

    While Sweet Cavanagh strives to have a high social impact, we do try to have a small carbon footprint. We strive to source our materials locally and LOVE to support other social enterprises when selecting beads. Many of our pieces are made from recycled and vintage beads. Re-working old jewelry and giving it new life is a special process. Similar to our treatment of disorders, we try to see the positive in everything and be grateful for what we have in our lives.

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    5. Why is a platform like Fashion ComPassion important for the growth of sustainable fashion businesses?

    In a world where people are focused on getting more for less, platforms like Fashion Compassion are essential for sustainable fashion businesses. As with many ethical brands, our budget is limited and we depend on every sale; thus, having the support of a larger company is imperative. Additionally, our craftswomen are made to feel all the more special as they see their pieces on a bonafide website, alongside other beautiful products. The pride they feel when a piece is sold is also something that can't be monetized. We feel honored to be grouped in the same category as the other brands on the Fashion Compassion page. It is wonderful to be appreciated as an ethical fashion brand whose pieces make a difference in the world.

  • Brand Interview: Kyu Melange

    1.  What is Kyu Melange?

    Think global fusion. Think luxury accessories. Think impact. That’s what Kyu Melange (Q-Mey-Longe) is all about. We create luxury accessories from fusion. We cater to the women and men who make fashion statements – effortlessly, every day.

    Our product offering spans three collections. THE GLOBAL FUSION COLLECTION is chic and vibrant. This collection of exclusively hand crafted clutches and bags will enhance your look from day to night. THE LEATHER LUXURY COLLECTION provides just the right accessories to revolutionize your wardrobe with simple, classic, timeless pieces. This collection was designed for the modern woman and the polished gentleman.  Products are hand crafted with personality in every stitch to enhance your individual style. THE SEASONAL & LIMITED COLLECTION products exemplify fusion on a global scale. The pieces in this collection will vary and are typically not available in large quantities due to the uniqueness and/or scarcity of the raw materials from which the products are made. The items in our seasonal collection will vary from season to season.

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    2. Why did you decide to launch a socially responsible label?

    Kyu Melange is not just a label -- it is truly a lifestyle.

    Growing up in Jamaica, I spent a lot of time working with my mom in her fashion business. I learned a ton about the power of creativity from her and as a child. Even before I had the faculty to fully grasp her decision making calculus, I was in awe of the way she made her choices, and most impressed by her humanity and her interpretation of her place in the world. Naturally when I decided to step into the world of fashion with my own brand, I started with the framework of something bigger.

    Living an impact centered life is my way of life. With Kyu Melange I will utilize fashion and more broadly art to empower people, especially artisans in emerging countries. I hope to re-frame the way people think about consumption, globally. This is what I have set out to do in the next 18 months. It hasn’t been easy, but it is very possible; and I believe in the power of conviction.

    3. What was the inspiration behind the collection?

    I am inspired by art and elaborate cultural traditions. I am inspired by the people who re-purpose art and create beauty out of a mash up of seemingly unconnected things. I am inspired by the power that fashion has, to impact not only culture but also peoples’ stream of consciousness. Kyu Melange Global Fusion Collection uses fabrics most of which are hand-dyed/hand-woven by women in emerging countries. Our current collection, we re-purpose fabrics from Uzbekistan, Senegal, Ethiopia, Peru, Turkey, India and Pakistan. In some cases we work with women to develop specific prints. In other cases we use prints that they have already perfected, and crafted. Prints emblematic of a global cultural expression are strategically combined with high quality leather sourced from Italy, Brazil, Argentina, Turkey and Colombia. All our products are hand-made in Colombia by highly skilled artisans, and are made with love and passion. It is truly wearable art.

    4. Tell us about the positive impact Kyu Melange has had on the people and the environment.

    Kyu Melange impact initiatives are centered on empowerment through education. In Colombia the Business of Fashion pilot under the Kesi Kesi Impact program started informally with a collective of 40 women and was mainly focused on business and design       training for product commercialization. In 2015, with the help and endorsement of the Colombian government, the program will take on more structure and will be accessible by a greater number of artisans. In the US we also did a pilot at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York, working with design students to formulate business plans. In the Caribbean, we work with artisans in Jamaica. The ultimate goal for the program is to arm creative professionals with the tools necessary creative sustainable businesses that will inevitably impact the pace of economic development and improve the life-chances of creative professionals.

    Under the same impact umbrella are getting ready to officially launch The Melting Pot Movement. This platform was introduced in New York in June, 2014 and will go live on October 1, 2014. The Melting Pot Movement is a platform that focus on “The Untold Narrative of a Global People through the lens of Fashion, Beauty, Music and Contemporary Art”. It is a global movement that provides deeper insight into the life and work of the artists and the opportunity for sustainable engagement/attachment points for the consumer. Look out for more! #TheMeltingPotMovement #KyuMelange

    `5. Why is a platform like Fashion ComPassion important for the growth of sustainable fashion businesses?

    Like Kyu Melange, most fashion startups in the first 12-18 months of existence are typically capital constrained. As such platforms like Fashion ComPassion provide a great outlet for emerging brands to reach a wider audience around the globe on a skinny marketing budget. Fashion ComPassion is a particularly well-aligned brand ambassador given the strong impact focus that sits at the heart of the entities business model.

  • Brand Interview: Bradley Bags

    1. What is Bradley Bags?

    Bradléy by Alice Eddé is an exquisite line of luxury leather bags made in Byblos, an ancient Phoenician harbour town in Lebanon where the alphabet was once invented, and from which the Bible gets its name.

    These bags are now sold under the brand Alice Eddé.

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2. Why did you decide to launch a socially responsible label?

    I live in Byblos, the oldest continually inhabited city in the world, so it seems only natural to try to perpetuate local businesses and revive local crafts. The family traditions that keep crafts alive are important social forces and it would be a terrible shame if they were all swept aside by mass production.

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3. What was the inspiration behind the collection?

    Before the Internet, I would write letters daily to the people I had met in my travels across the world. These envelope-shaped bags are a throwback to a time where handwritten ink and elegant paper expressed emotions which emails struggle to reproduce. The bags, which vary with the seasons and events, evoke the mystery, nostalgia and eloquence of those long-forgotten days.

    
4. Tell us about the positive impact Bradley bags have made on the people and the environment.

    The patronage of these small producers and artisans allows traditions to continue, skills to remain relevant, independent family businesses to thrive and local commerce to flourish. BRADLéY bags’ reputation for quality and style enhances Lebanon’s standing in local and world eyes with regards to fashion, ensuring that Made in Lebanon becomes something to be desired and coveted.

    
5. Why is a platform like Fashion ComPassion important for the growth of sustainable fashion businesses?

    Sustainable fashion businesses need an international platform to showcase their creativity, quality and viability to the world. International recognition is often necessary just to obtain recognition at home! Fashion ComPassion gives sustainable fashion businesses the opportunity to reach a market that appreciates quality and craftsmanship executed by skilled artisans producing locally made luxury items. In a way, Fashion ComPassion is contributing to the resilience of a proud country, Lebanon

  • Brand Interview: Angela & Roi

    1. What is Angela & Roi?

    As a fashion brand with a focus on philanthropy, we typically look at things with a different perspective. We found a way to make health causes a fashion statement. We used color trends to bring hope and support cancer and disease fighters. We approached solving health issues from a new point of view. We maintain our positive attitude toward change and frame our mission within our energetic color theme. Colors grab us out of the dreary day-to-day existence and shoot us into a world of vivaciousness. We chose to link different causes with specific colors. Our purses speak color, and we believe our products should converse with our greater charitable goals.

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    2. Why did you decide to launch a socially responsible label?

    Roi and Angela fell in love before they combined their philanthropic ideologies into a powerful fashion brand. Below is a quote from Angela about how A&R was inspired to start the Donate by Color movement!
    "When we attended a fashion show that supported AIDS with the red ribbon, we were inspired and applied the concept to the Angela & Roi, handbag brand. We believed that we could create a sustainable model where fashion consumerism meets philanthropy. Since Roi's father had diabetes and faced a serious cerebral hemorrhage when Roi was 10, he realized that the most significant factor in an individual's life is health; we decided to focus on health issues. We realized that there are so many people and families int he world who struggle with health problems and don't get enough support."--Angela

    3. What was the inspiration behind the collection?

    Fashion combines the necessity of clothes with art. Women's fashion allows for expressions of individuality, uniqueness, and passion during any season. Handbags are symbolic of this pragmatic beauty. A good handbag goes past a carrier of items and transforms into a confident statement to the world. However, Angela & Roi understands handbags often posses inhibiting prices. Looking good should not be for only the rich and the famous. We thrive to introduce a new concept in handbags. We create boutique-quality, minimally and classically designed handbags at a competitive price. We meticulously selected minimalist styles of tote, shoulder, cross-body bags and backpacks. Each style comes with various color options. The Angela & Roi aesthetic is classic with a modern touch. Every bag is made with vegan leather and durable fabric.

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    4. Tell us about the positive impact Angela & Roi has made on the people and the environment.

    Angela & Roi was founded on strong moral principles. We prioritize ethical and respectful treatment of our customers. Our products reflect our value system that is focused on customer satisfaction and building personal connections. We believe we can use our resources productively in a way to impact the greater community. We believe fashion can be utilized to both an artistic and charitable effect. Angela & Roi presents an opportunity for us to intertwine consumerism with philanthropy. We hope you can join us in our 'Donate by Color' movement to raise awareness and support for various causes. Recently, we just launched The Ribbon Project (#RibbonProject), to personally connect our followers with cancer and disease fighters. We find ways to reinforce hope and awareness of those who are connected with the health causes we support, with everything we do. With every project and change, our ulterior motive is always bringing hope to cancer and disease fighters, and support to the causes we represent. We aim to bring smiles to the faces of cancer and disease fighters everywhere.

    5. Why is a platform like Fashion ComPassion important for the growth of sustainable fashion businesses?

    Together, we can build a community that has a foundation based on compassion. With a strong community focused on ethical and sustainable fashion brands, we can inspire others to join the movement, and create innovation solutions to the long term issues faced in the fashion industry. A community such as this can bring change and raise awareness for many things that go unnoticed, and do it with style. There is nothing more important than building support for the things we value, and finding others with common causes. We hope to start a movement in the fashion industry, with the help of platforms like Fashion ComPassion.

  • Brand Interview - Cassandra Postema of Emi & Eve

    1. What is Emi & Eve?

    Emi &Eve are passionate about using ethical, and artisanal sources, providing income to those that need it most. So doing, we address the issue of exploded remnants of war (ERW) in various countries recovering from war, while at the same time providing a sustainable income to people rebuilding their lives post conflict.

    2. Why did you decide to launch a socially responsible label?

    I find that by working with certain social parameters, the most beautiful and unexpected designs are born. Its just so much more interesting and rewarding to work with generations old artisanal craftmanship, while at the same time giving back to the community.

    3. What was the inspiration behind the collection?

    We upcycle the remains of explosives that have had such devastating effects, so to emphasise the transformation we use positive imagery such as a pair of holding hands, heart shapes and also natural and organic shapes.

    Recycled bullets from Cambodia, melted then reshaped into beautiful pieces for the bags. Recycled bullets from Cambodia, melted then reshaped into beautiful pieces for the bags.
    Beautiful Friendship Clutch made with the recycled bullets Beautiful Friendship Clutch made with the recycled bullets

    4. Tell us about the positive impact Emi & Eve has made on the people and the environment.

    Since launching the first collection a year ago, we have been able to supply a power generator for more efficient production. The craftsman we work with, Chantha, has been able to upgrade his workshop as well and employ several apprentices.

    Dorcas in China making an Emi and Eve bag. Dorcas in China making an Emi and Eve bag.

    5. Why is a platform like Fashion ComPassion important for the growth of sustainable fashion businesses?

    While we work at the grassroots level bridging the gap between design and social impact, it is essential for ethical brands to have those marketing partnerships to champion our products. We also need to be discerning where we place our collections and Fashion Compassion are doing a great job in presenting them beautifully.

    Buy Emi & Eve products here

  • Brand Interview - Paola Masperi from Mayamiko

    1. What is Mayamiko?

    Mayamiko Designed is a fashion label that fuses together contemporary design with traditional African fabrics to create fashion forward ethical clothing and accessories.

    2. Why did you decide to launch a socially responsible label?

    Mayamiko was established to help people in Malawi by supporting their creative talents and turning them into sustainable activities. ‘Mayamiko’ helps nurture and encourage communities that are facing economic and social hardship by providing opportunities to use their skills through training and education.

    Sophia Mayamiko artisan Sophia Mayamiko artisan

    3. What was the inspiration behind the collection?

    Mayamiko Designed took their inspiration for the collection from Malawi- its landscape, its people, its traditional fabrics and techniques, and blended this with cutting edge design from the UK to create a truly unique high fashion label.

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    4. Tell us about the positive impact Mayamiko has made on the people and the environment.

    In 2008 I started Mayamiko and established the Malawi Cotton Project to provide skills training, education, nutrition, sanitation and to promote fairer trade practices. Our workshops in Malawi employ women affected by HIV. The education and training given to them is called TEVETA, and leads to recognized qualification. The trainees are taught to manufacture simple necessities, which satisfy the local market demands.

    Paola with the Trainees Paola with the Trainees

    We also established the Fashion Lab which teaches theses women how to manufacture simple everyday necessities which we export using ethical trade. Mothers that have infants and children to take care of, are able to leave them at our nursery or pre-school where they are looked after, engaged in educational activities and fed healthy and nutritious food.

    5. Why is a platform like Fashion ComPassion important for the growth of sustainable fashion businesses?

    Although rapidly expanding, the ethical fashion sector is still small and relatively immature. It is hugely important to have platforms like Fashion Compassion who feature fabulous ethical brands and offer consumers a truly credible alternative to regular designer and high street fashion.

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