The Start of Something Amazing!
Approximately seven months ago I was struck by a hair- brained scheme ( I am prone to these and no longer find them too alarming). I decided I was going to open up an online ethical and sustainable activewear store!! The week before I was going to become a personal trainer and three weeks prior to that, I was going to host daycare children in my home. So here we are. Enter retail. What do experience do I have running a retail store? Hmm not as much as I’d like. Apart from some standard retail jobs and a small business creating cake toppers, that allowed me to make it through university with minimal starvation. Surely it couldn't be too hard?
Why ethical and sustainable retail I hear you loudly not asking? Surely that’ll be tricky to pull off? Well yes, it is difficult because for one, it is far more expensive than ‘fast fashion’ clothing and two, sustainable wholesalers and manufactures seem to enjoy playing a hearty game of hide and seek. To find a manufacturer that is both ethical AND sustainable, well, lets just say the day I found one I felt like I’d captured a very sparkly unicorn! So why the effort? Well, I have recently come to the realisation that we only get the one Earth and to be honest we’ve done a pretty bang- up job of it so far, so I would like to make what reparations I can. In addition to this, I have had the added dawn of knowledge (and hypochondria) that seems to come with being a new mother and I have realised that I have a direct responsibility to a little human and she needs an intact world to grow up in. I wanted to go back to basics.
Brilliant. I loved this idea. Over time I hope to change most of my families clothing into natural fibers, utilise natural products, eat whole foods and reduce our plastic consumption. Does this mean that I am going to instantly throw away everything that is not sustainable? No, because it would be unrealistic and unhelpful to do so. No, my change into sustainability and ethically minded living will be a gradual one that compliments our life. I felt we were already well on our way with our vegetable garden, cheese, sourdough, jam making and even mead brewing ( my lovely hubby’s hobby) - all free of nasty additives. We had already made a start, why not add a little more. So I started experimenting with eco friendly dyes, designing my website, hunting those dastardly manufacturers and drawing clothing prints for the clothing I was going create as my own line.
The other most important aspect of EMBER Active Wear was the ‘active’ part. The activewear part is simpler to explain. From a young age (and I mean very young) my parents used to drag my brother, sister and myself out on grand adventures. To provide a rough image of my parents personalities - they are now in their mid fifties and in 2017 they spent 9 months in South America crossing the Andes… on fully loaded touring bicycles. Ellos están locos. We whinged through most of our adventures, to be fair, my parents idea of a holiday was three weeks hiking out in the middle of the New Zealand Wilderness where you could hear landslides crashing down in neighbouring valleys. A casual weekend escapade might involve camping and rock climbing in the Blue Mountains or endurance racing on our Arabians. In retrospect however, we had a pretty cool upbringing and I want our children to have the opportunity to whinge through theirs as much as I did.
Now, seven months have gone by. I would not say that looking after an energetic baby and setting up a small business from scratch have been stress free. My poor hubby has dealt with it all, with minimal complaint - my rock, my port in a storm and my moderately frequent reality check when I get carried away. We are getting ready to launch our little enterprise in two days and are very excited! The challenges, setbacks, disappointments and frustrations have all made this moment that much sweeter. The memories I have of painstakingly painting designs onto cloth only to have my 8 month old crawl through my paint, onto the shirts and 'repurposing' hours of labour or of dragging my bub and my hubby to the markets to stake out the competition (and drink their homebrewed ginger beer) will forever be embedded and precious. I am thankful for these times, for these are what living is about and I look forward to the challenges ahead.
With love and hope, Sarah
EMBER Active Wear