Fashion

Time to share a slice…

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It’s time for me to share a slice. You may have noticed a quieter social media presence from me over the last 6+ months as I indulge in a range of other creative and personal projects. This has lead me to the decision to use this incredible platform to give a voice to fellow creatives, activists and makers in the sustainable and ethical fashion space who may not have the audience or reach that I do currently.

So I’m handing over the mic to those wanting to get their work and causes out there. I have decided to first open this space to POC, teens and those in the LGBTQI+ community as I want to ensure the spaces I create are as inclusive and diverse as possible. If you have something to share, email me at theunmaterialgirl@gmail.com

Eco, Fashion

Sewers + Makers Unite!

Sewers and makers, we need your help!! Australia is burning as our bushfire crisis rages out of control. Unprecedented numbers of wildlife have been killed and injured including our iconic koalas and kangaroos.

The RSPCA has created a simple how-to worksheet (google RSPCA Sewing Guide) and video which shows how to make care pouches for injured animals. If you’re feeling helpless like I was, put your skills into action and sew some up to send their way. Remember, this is just one organisation/pattern/tutorial and there are many out there that need our help so do some googling to find more. Another great resource is the Animal Rescue Craft Guild on Facebook, they have a bounty of information and tutorials for a variety wildlife groups in need of donations.

My friend Naomi of @thesewloist has also just released a Bat Wrap tutorial, so be sure to check out her blog too for more ideas and inspiration.

 

Postal address is RSPCA QLD Wildlife Hospital, Possum Pouch Drive, Locked Bag 3000, Archerfield BH QLD 4108.

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Fashion

Is it possible to be an Ethical Influencer?

It’s a big question and one that has plagued me for almost 4 years now – is it possible to be an ethical influencer? Influencer marketing is still a murky and rapidly evolving beast and I’ve struggled to work out exactly where I sit within it all. It wasn’t until recently when one of my followers pointed out that gifting still counts as a type of paid promotion that I decided to really take a look at the topic of influencer marketing, focusing on how I’m involved. So, I’ve conducted a hard-hitting interview with myself and I’ve been as open and transparent about answers as I can.

 

How will you be transparent about what is gifted and what is a paid promotion?

From what I can tell from my research the most important thing is clarity. My goal is for any person reading my posts to have a clear understanding that the product/event that I’m promoting has either been gifted to me or I’m being paid to post about it. The most straight forward/legal way I’ve found is to include #gifted or #ad and #sponsored. If you don’t see those hashtags on one of my posts then you can be sure that whatever I’m sharing has been paid for by me, or is simply something I’m into.

I have gone back through all of my instagram posts and added #gifted to every single photo where I was ever given something for free.

Why aren’t you stating how much you’re paid per post?

I’ve thought deeply about whether I should or not, and I’ve decided not to because it feels very similar to me asking what you make at your job. What is more important for me is that my followers/readers clearly know the intention behind each post I put out there. I am always happy to send my Media Kit and pricing to anyone who genuinely wants to work with me and who I feel would be a good fit for collaboration.

Do you feel guilty about making money from Instagram?

No, because it’s damn hard work! To give some perspective, a single photo could take anywhere between 1-5 hours. This includes make up/hair, location scouting, actual shooting time, editing time, writing, posting and replying. That’s not inclusive of any time spent ideating, communicating with the brand and researching before the actual post. I also have to mention that my partner Jamie takes the vast majority of my photos, which means there are 2 people involved in every post. Without him, it wouldn’t happen.

I’ve had to work on allowing myself to receive money from my instagram work because (as I’m sure many creatives can relate to) it can feel weird making money from your art or passion.

But aren’t you the “Un-Material Girl”… surely you have heaps of stuff now right?

Yeah, I do, and it’s a serious issue for me. I’m actively working on purging my belongings again, so stay tuned for a massive garage sale soon. I have recently added a section to my Media Kit acknowledging the fact that if I am gifted or given a product as part of a paid promotion the brand must be comfortable with the fact that I may give away, donate or sell that item in the future. Sometimes brands simply lend me an item, I photograph it and I post it back.

So, do you work with any brand as long as they pay you/gift you something?

Not a chance! This is super important to me. I have turned down countless well paid/gifting opportunities from small to very established fashion brands purely because they don’t align with the values of my blog. I only collaborate and work with labels that I truly believe in and I have valued the integrity of my blog above all else from the very start. If I work with a brand it’s because I truly believe in them.

Have you ever paid for followers or paid to promote your posts?

Never.

Do you feel conflicted about selling things?

This is probably the toughest thing I grapple with because I often feel conflicted about selling things when I have my own issues around promoting consumerism. I remind myself that the brands I choose to work with are all innovators and pioneers. These are the brands that are changing the industry and creating the future of fashion, and most of the time they are the ones who need the most support and encouragement.

I also have included a section in my Media Kit explaining that honesty and transparency are values I hold very dear, therefore any personal opinion I share with my followers will be my true thoughts and feelings. There have been times that I have received a product, been disappointed with it’s quality, cancelled the collaboration and paid to return the garment to the brand purely because I would never want to promote something that I didn’t believe was awesome.

 

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This jumper was gifted to me as part of a paid promotion with Frank and Dollys, the pants were purchased with my staff discount from Biomes Slow Fashion Department where I work. I bought the watch from The Horse many years ago, and the necklace was bought from Munay Designs at the latest Planting Festival. The hat has been with me for 10 years, originally from Sportsgirl, and my recent hair colour was done by Annie at Mikki Auld Hair.

Jamie took the photo, and he’s the real star of this show.

Fashion

Fashion meets Functionality with the Original Scarf Bag

Few things make me more frustrated than getting to the end of my grocery shop and realizing that my reusable bags are in the boot. Although I make the effort to ensure I have a few spares in my trusty backpack, I still find myself occasionally juggling 16 things to the car because I flat out REFUSE to purchase a “reusable” plastic bag. I was recently introduced to a Brisbane start up that is tackling this problem in the most charming, practical and fashionable way – The Original Scarf Bag.

Meeting up with Emma over coffee at my favourite local vegan café, Paper Moon, it didn’t take me long to discover how passionate this founder is about her fledgling brand. Driven by a deep concern over the amount of plastic that is clogging up our landfills and waterways, this mother of two was determined to create a product that is not only practical but also versatile. The scarf bag does just what is says on the tin. It’s an easy to wear scarf that can be endlessly styled and it also doubles as a shopping bag.

I’m inspired by the fact that Emma has built sustainability and ethics into the foundation of her brand from the get-go, choosing to use the newly developed Lenzing EcoVero Material (a certified eco-responsible form of Viscose). This fabric couldn’t have been found without the help of Alison Jose of the Sustainable Textiles Club. Each scarf is ethically manufactured in India by Indigenous Industries.

Emma has just launched her Kickstarter Campaign for The Original Scarf Bag HERE, another move that I really admire. Testing the waters via Kickstarter is a truly sustainable way to first gauge the demand for your product before creating mass amounts and means that bulk resources aren’t wasted – very smart.

Show your support for this brilliant Aussie start-up and help them reach their goal of $38,500. I can assure you it’ll be worth it, even just for the thrill of impressing the people behind you in the supermarket isle as you magically transform your beautiful scarf into a shopping bag.

This is a paid post, and I am proudly partnering with The Original Scarf Bag to help get this new business out into the world.

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Fashion

How I Host a Clothing Swap

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I’ve received a tonne of messages recently asking me to share my exact formula for hosting a Clothing Swap. Running these events is easily one of the best parts about my role as the curator of Biome Eco stores new Slow Fashion Department. I’m able to connect with so many people in my local community and watch previously unloved clothes find new homes.

There are so many different ways to host a swap, however I wanted to share a simple version of exactly how I run them, so that once you understand the general flow it’s easy to mix and match to make it work for you.

I couldn’t run these events without my wing woman Jacq – Biomes Workshop Facilitator.


Pre-Swap Planning

1. Set a participant limit.

I’ve found the “friendliest” number for an event is no more than 20 people. This amount means that there are still enough clothes being swapped to bring in a good variety of garments, but not too many people that it gets manic. The space you are hosting your swap in may dictate your participant limit for you.

2. Set a garment limit.

We say no more than 10 garments per person. Again, this helps keeps things simple and ensures we don’t have participants bringing along a truck and a half full of clothing. We do allow participants to bring a few shoes/bags if they check in with us first but we don’t openly encourage it incase we have people bringing in 10 pairs of shoes. Again, it’s all about keeping it simple.

3. Create a garment quality checklist

Having super clear rules about the types of garments that can be brought to the swap helps with quality control and levels the playing field. It would be disappointing if one person brought a bunch of designer dresses and another brought their ratty old gym gear.

4. Set a ticket price – or don’t!

This one is totally up to you. If you’re hosting a swap with friends and family it can be nice to also have participants bring a plate of food each so you can snack up a storm once you’re finished. Nothing works up an appetite like the thrill of a good clothes swap!

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Running the Swap

5. Have a drop off time frame

We allow participants to drop off their clothing either the day prior to the swap or within a 1.5 hour window before the event begins. This gives us time to sort, hang and display the garments beautifully and also keep track of who’s given us their clothing. We have a simple guest list and tick off their name as they drop their clothes.

6. Give the participants their swap tokens

For each garment they bring the participant gets 1 playing card (a super easy, affordable token to use). 10 garments, 10 playing cards, 7 garments, 7 playing cards – get it? The playing cards are used as swap currency.

7. A warm welcome, then let the swapping commence!

We like to welcome the participants into the space before we allow any swapping to begin. It’s nice to take a moment to explain why clothes swapping is such an important part of the slow fashion movement and this also helps set the tone for the event. Calm is good. We don’t want any frenzied vibes, keep it friendly.

8. The check out

Set up a space where participants can pay with their tokens once they have their items. As I mentioned, most of the time people end up taking less than they brought so they’ll probably have some left over tokens. At the end of the day the tokens are just to help keep track of things. Thank your participants and give yourself a big ol’ pat on the back!

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FAQ’S

How do I know there will be clothes in my size?

Honestly, you don’t, and it’s important to understand that up front or you may be disappointed. If you’re hosting a public clothing swap it’s pretty much a mixed bag as to what types of clothing you may receive. Be sure to let participants be aware of this.

How do I know there will be clothes in my style?

Again, you don’t. It’s a risk. This is why we also encourage participants to only bring clothes to the swap that they are happy to part with. If they are too attached to the value of the clothing they may feel disappointed if they don’t find garments they like.

What happens to the clothes left over?

I’d encourage you to have a solid plan for the clothing left over from the swap. We at Biome either send our donations to Suited to Success, or give them to Restitch in order to be up-cycled into new amazing creations!

What if I bring more garments to the swap then I end up taking home?

Perfect! You’ve downsized, well done! There is absolutely no pressure to take more garments home than you brought with you. I’ve often found participants will bring 10 garments to swap but take home anywhere between 4 and 6.

Can I take things for my friends and family?

Your tokens are yours to use as you wish. We often find participants may pick a few things for themselves and. if they spot something nice for their mum or bestie, they might grab that too! At the end of the day we want the clothes to find new homes so they don’t end up in land fill.

What about Menswear?

This is a tricky one as across our three events so far we’ve only had women participate. In the same way that we can never guarantee certain sizes or styles, we also can’t guarantee that if we had male participants that there would be an abundance of menswear for them to swap. We don’t limit it to women only, however it seems so far to only attract women.

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I really hope that this break down has given you an insight into one way a clothing swap can be run, but please know that this is only one version. You can make and break as many rules as you like, it’s all about finding a style that works for you. I’d love to hear about your clothing swap success stories so keep me in the loop too!