Environmentalist, Ethical Fashion Designer
How old are you?
Where were you born?
In the middle of the Indian Ocean – Seychelles.
Tell us about your day job at Taronga Zoo?
Taronga Zoo is extraordinary! And way more than the zoo its famous for. Taronga quietly makes huge impact through conservation and groundbreaking science projects across the country and globally. My job with the Taronga Foundation is to secure funding for this work and allows me to develop beautiful relationships with the family of donors. I feel blessed to work with such a dedicated people – the team and the donors.
How did you end up working with Taronga Zoo?
I’m naturally drawn to not-for-profit sector – I just couldn’t bring myself to a corporate type role, my soul wouldn’t cope! If I ever have a bad work day, I know I’ve still made a positive difference in the world, so it’s never truly bad. I started out with Greenpeace and got my activism into full swing there too before moving to New York and getting more high level donor experience with a local food organisation, before sliding back into Sydney. Taronga jobs are very competitive so I’ve been very lucky to join the team.
Now tell us about your side hustle, Pea’s Parlour?
Born from a frazzled period of ‘WHAT NOW?!’ when life tipped upside down on me. I had space, time and a clean slate so I taught myself to knit but following patterns confused me so began to make my own. Now I sell scrumptious knitwear, all handmade, with yarns from small family farms which use very low impact dyes. A percentage of profits are also donated back to conservation causes.
Tell us about your portrait in Mighty Good Basics?
Isolating and taking photos of myself in my undies… why not?! I’ve shot this on my bed in Avalon in the singlet and granny undies (my fave!). My husband and I are both sun-worshippers and the palm tree photo over the bed sets off major daydreaming about the next holiday.
A bit about your take on sustainability in fashion…
Sustainability doesn’t necessarily come easily when we think of fashion. But we need to question our behaviours which is uncomfortable for people – particularly younger generations who are in a rhythm of ‘want now, have now’, which is having a disastrous impact on the planet. We need to ask ourselves more: Why am I buying this? Do I need it? Have I thought about the fabric? Why am I throwing something away? What’s is it’s end life? Will I mend it?
I swoon over fashion – I adore it. But the most important pieces are the ones my mum made and has handed down. That act of passing on has instilled in me a love of stories behind clothes, treasuring pieces and ignoring trends. At home, there’s a lot of vintage, alterations and mending. A great technique is the fun Japanese stitch, shashiko. I also pack clothes into boxes in my basement and rediscover them after a few years with a newfound love affair.
From your point of view, why is sustainability in the fashion industry so important?
We cannot continue business as usual anymore. Fast fashion has a shocking track record on environmental waste and fair working conditions and feeds the consumer desire for more, more, more. Why the world is obsessed with growth, speed and new is beyond me and it’s killing our planet.
More people need to make the connection and see consumer behaviour as part of the problem – but more importantly, the solution. Businesses have a great responsibility in leading the way.
Given that 77% of UK retailers believe there is a likelihood of Modern Slavery in their supply chain, what do you think the fashion industry should be doing to prevent this?
This is so sad and makes me furious. It’s a huge problem and takes advantage of the world’s most vulnerable. If consumers assume that retailers are doing the right thing, ignorance isn’t bliss – it’s just ignorant. Fashion retailers need to be accountable through their entire supply chain but unfortunately it often comes down to consumers putting pressure on businesses for change to come about. So consumers, let’s speak up and demand fair human rights, otherwise call them out, demand they begin making changes and take your consumer dollars elsewhere.
What practices do you think fashion brands should be focusing on to create a more sustainable business?
Pushing and sharing innovation and showcasing those manufacturers doing things right. At Pea’s Parlour, I think about waste a lot – how to minimise waste and repurpose materials. Thinking about the end of life for products being created and promoting mending or textile recycling services. Wool is an incredible textile – completely natural and biodegradable – I’ve even started throwing my scraps ends into my compost.
What is your usual outfit for the office?
Vintage blouse and high waisted pants for the win! I can’t go past glitter socks and sandals combo either.
What is your take on making your wardrobe more sustainable?
Mending what’s ripped, clothes swaps with friends, and vintage forever.
What are your favourite sustainable fashion brands?
Sézane for French chic, Nagnata for sport, Ginger & Smart for ooh la la and Uniqlo for basics. For jewellery, Catbird in New York – they use recycled gold and conflict-free, responsibly sourced stones.
Who is your style icon?
What is your favourite item in your wardrobe and why? Tell us the story.
Don’t make me choose! This week it’s my collection of vintage Indian summer jackets purchased on my honeymoon. They are embroidered with gold threads, beads and mirrors characteristic of Rajasthani fashion. Indian vintage blew my mind.
What’s your favourite Mighty Good Basics style and why?
Granny undies! There is nothing more comfortable, I could live in them and leave the house in them if it were socially acceptable. I wear a lot of high waisted pants so they are a perfect accompaniment.