A project born of personal values
“A few years ago, after years of working in what I thought was my dream job, I suddenly found myself in a train crash. I was working as a fashion buyer in a large French department story and was living the world of ‘fast fashion’. The challenge was to constantly come up with garments that could be made faster and cheaper. But presenting collections every week while constantly bargaining with suppliers became very frustrating and emotionally draining.
“I experienced fast fashion in its darkest sense: the pressure to be ‘on top of every trend’ and to offer new competitive items in store every week – no matter what. Every delay in getting the stock is money lost for the retailer, and your clients going to other shops on the high street. Obsessed with margins and lead-times, I found myself in a vicious circle where it seemed very easy to lose control over – as well as visibility of – your sourcing.
“The tipping point was when I received a call from the Sustainability Director just after the Rana Plaza disaster (the Bangladesh textile factory in which 1,135 people died). I had to give information about one of my suppliers because it looked like they could have been based in Rana Plaza. I had the worse cold sweat of my life and was completely paralysed. Fortunately, it was all a false alarm and we had not been involved with that factory. Nevertheless, the thought that I could have had the blood of 1,135 people on my hands made it impossible for me to keep working like that. I needed to put my energy and skills into something I truly believe in.”
“At the time July had her fashion moral crisis I was studying in Cambridge, a city which really awakened my entrepreneurial appetite. Before going to Cambridge, I had taken a sabbatical to volunteer for marine conservation in Madagascar – which had made me realise the importance and impact of water pollution, for which textiles have a big responsibility. Also, visiting cotton plantations made an idea that Julie and I had had about organic cotton lingerie bubble up in my mind.
“It seemed the perfect time and place for Julie and I to start something that would reflect our shared ideas of good business and good personal values. In MONTH 201? AmaElla was born, a brand new organic cotton and ethical lingerie brand. We are now proud to be running a social enterprise with the mission of encouraging ethical practices in the fashion industry by making our clothes using sustainable and ethical sources.”