Gaia Garments was set up last year and became so popular its founder, Ellena Gall, has to close the website after each new release to ensure she has time to hand make all the orders.
Every top is made from 100% natural and sustainable materials (labels, threads, packaging – the lot!) and is reversible – saving valuable wardrobe space and the planet in one.
We asked Gaia Garments what makes a fashion brand sustainable! Take a look at what they said!
One Tribe: Hi, great to be chatting with you. Before we get into what makes a fashion brand sustainable, let’s talk specifically about you, your ecommerce products and your sustainable brand.
So, you guys are known for making affordable sustainable and ethical clothing – that’s reversible.
Gaia: The idea came to mind when I was looking to shop more sustainably – but I found that wasn’t really a lower, highstreet-priced sustainable brand offering the types of clothes that I wanted. I had experience in sewing, so I thought that I could try and make my own and was thinking about how I could make it to avoid over consumption. When I realised that I would need to double layer the fabrics – the idea of reversible clothing came in. Why not use a different colour fabric on each side, meaning two tops instead of one and halving the raw materials needed.
And when we’re talking about what makes a brand sustainable – is sustainability something that you can add on? When starting your business, was sustainability a primary focus or was it something that developed over time?
Sustainability was at the heart of what I was doing from the very beginning. I always knew that I wanted Gaia to be ethically made and sustainably produced, so it was always something that was a massive part of what I was doing. It develops over time, as I think of more ways that I can improve the business and become as sustainable as possible, because that has been the goal from the very beginning.
One Tribe: You do a lot of sustainable work including using Tencel – so the tops are made from tree pulp, biodegradable packaging and – Where did you learn about each of these different areas, was it knowledge you had prior to starting or did you have someone to help guide you along the way?
Gaia: I had quite a lot of prior knowledge about sustainability within fashion because it is something that I’m personally interested in and actively try to incorporate into my lifestyle. Some of it was my own knowledge, but I then backed it up with research to find out areas of the business that I could improve on, sustainability-wise.
One Tribe: It’s safe to say that being a genuinely sustainable brand isn’t easy. It seems these days everyone wants to be one of the sustainable fashion brands but it’s either too difficult or they don’t know where to start. What would be your advice to other brands that want to start being more sustainable but don’t know what that first step is?
Gaia: RESEARCH.. Understand the field that you’re working in and understand where the issues are – so that you can be the solution and improve. Research is relevant across all industries – for example, if you worked in food or catering, if you get an understanding of the CO2 emissions from food and the areas along the production line that are generating the most – you can then build a menu that minimises carbon emissions. You need to know the problem before you can be part of the solution. And also, just ask people. If you can find an expert who is knowledgeable about your industry – great – but just getting different opinions about what people want and how is so useful when you’re building your business.
One Tribe: You’ve had an incredible journey which is reflected in your growth as a business. ROI is great and being sustainable is great. When we’re talking about what makes a fashion brand sustainable AND successful, what’s the secret to balancing them both?
Gaia: I think balancing sustainability and growth is doable by focusing on realistic places within the business that you can afford to commit to improving. You don’t have to spend a lump sum of money, but look at little alternatives. Reassessing your packaging is a great one – I found it a really minor cost to the business but completely revolutionised the carbon footprint of my business model. It’s about finding what works for you long term. And of course another good idea for committing to sustainability without losing a chunk of profit? Saving trees with every sale!
Lastly, is there anything you would have done differently, or any mistakes you made along the way regarding climate impact? Would you mind sharing them with us and explaining what you learnt from the process?
I personally don’t think there’s anything that I would have done differently. Whilst it’s been a huge learning curve over the last year, it’s mainly been for myself and the lifestyle of running a business. But because the sustainability aspect was so important to me from the beginning, there haven’t been any major changes that I’ve made over the last year to help improve it. Except of course for expanding my range to suit more eco-conscious customers!
We were delighted to have this opportunity to sit down and chat with Gaia and hear her story about what makes a fashion brand sustainable.
Seeing her efforts as an independent business owner to put sustainability first is truly inspiring and we can’t wait to follow her journey to become and even bigger and more successful brand!
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