Photography by Rita McNeill, Interview by Ellen Tirant with Sam Leigh.
Everyday Advocates is a new series highlighting our collaborators whose ethical values are reflected in their businesses, hobbies, and everyday actions. We are launching the series with Sam Leigh from eco|mono who talked to us about her path to ethical fashion, as well as the challenges of working in the industry.
Just a normal girl from Manchester, England with a dream to travel the world, in 2012 I booked a one-way ticket to Bangkok, and I have never looked back. In 2013, I landed in Melbourne, Australia. With a background in event management, I found myself securing a full-time job working in the events industry -- a complete 180 to my nomadic dream. I got completely sucked into climbing the corporate ladder.
Fast forward three years, I was made redundant and faced with the challenge of searching for a new job. It was then that I decided to start a fashion blog as a creative outlet for myself. I have always loved fashion, textiles, patterns and prints, so this was a perfect time to start something I am passionate about.
For me, fashion is an empowering outlet for self-expression. Depending on the occasion, it allows me to communicate who I am and for people to understand my personality through the clothing I choose to wear.
As I began to research topics to discuss on the blog, I realised the horrifying, negative effects of the fashion and textile industry. Wearing beautiful clothing should not be at the expense of people or the environment. After watching The True Cost Documentary, I felt inspired to create a positive change; I decided to change the angle of my blog and focus on ethical and sustainable fashion -- eco.mono was born.
Sustainable fashion is an emerging and ethical alternative to the traditional fast fashion pursuit. The process begins before purchasing a product and a deep understanding of a garment supply chain. From the fibres utilised to the ethics applied in the workforce, it includes multiple elements. Sustainable fashion is about purchasing with a purpose, with an environmental and social conscience. It seeks transparency and favours products that do not have a negative impact.
Now, the blog has transitioned into an online shop, allowing customers to purchase from brands leading the way in ethical fashion. I wanted to create a platform for customers to make informed purchases, allowing it to be easier for them to make a purchase that aligns with their personal values and work collectively towards a greater mission.
Eco.mono is my baby, it's a small business I run by myself, which means I wear many hats as most business owners will know; partnerships, marketing, customer service, logistics, finance...wow, who knew you would need to have so many skills? Sometimes, when I need to stay grounded, my mum, who is also a businesswoman, helps me think more logically, as I can be quite irrational at times. A second outlet is reading; I love to read, although these days I don't read many books, mainly other blogs, and go on beach walks or just sit by the ocean. I love a Sunday stroll down the beach with my partner, and whether it’s 30c degrees or 10c degrees, it’s my escape.
As the business is run from my home, I need my space to inspire me creatively but also be clear of clutter. I find I have so many things to think about and my brain is always cluttered, so I keep my workspace (kitchen table) fairly minimal. Over the past 12 months, I have tried to minimise my home. Removing the excess "stuff" from my life that is not needed, and making room for the things I love and make me happy: plants, candles and cushions.
Building a business from home can be tricky, it’s often hard to switch off, and this is something I am working on. I am inspired by brands such as Dorsu who have grown their business because it encourages me to continue doing the same. Thank You, Dorsu, for welcoming me into your small family.
Thank you, Sam, for sharing your story with the #DorsuCrew. The ethical fashion community offers invaluable support for rising brands, and we're grateful to be in it with such inspiring people.