FL: Tell us a bit about yourself and what you do?
AN: I am a small but spirited wahine who’s got a lot of love for the world we live in. I’m married to the best human (who will absolutely hate getting a shout-out, haha!), an avid Liverpool (FC) supporter, and water-kefir enthusiast. I’m also lucky to be in a career which hopefully helps me to leave the world in a slightly better state than how I found it. Currently, I’m working at AS Colour, managing their social and environmental sustainability.
I so admire that your personal values are whole-heartedly reflected in your professional life; especially when the work you do can be a constant uphill battle. Where does your love for social and environmental responsibility come from - has it always been a part of your life?
I think I’ve always had a really strong justice streak. Growing up, I used to get upset if my sisters got something I didn’t. Now I guess I try and be a little more tactical, channeling my sense of injustice into my work instead, getting upset for those whose lives are deemed less important than the latest trends, and for our beautiful planet that gets absolutely pummeled every day.
What are you most proud of in your work so far?
I recently left a job at Tearfund, managing the Ethical Fashion Report, where I worked with so many great people and brands who truly wanted to see positive change in the fashion industry. It was such a privilege to walk alongside them and witness broken systems be slowly mended through integrity and intentionality.
I'd love to know your thoughts on the current state of the fashion industry – how far have we come, and where to from here?
I’ve got to be honest; sometimes it does seem pretty grim. For example, the fact that so many brands are complicit in the forced labour and horrendous violations being perpetrated on millions of Uighur people in China is harrowing. But I also know there’s lots of progress being made too. I just think we all need to work harder, together, to make our industry one that has a positive impact, not a negative one. Nothing is achieved in silos.
And what do you think that collaboration could look like? What sort of changes do you think can have the biggest impact – for both brands and customers?
I think collaboration is as simple as sharing resources and support. Last month we saw Allbirds share their Carbon Footprint Calculator, which is an amazing resource that gives them a serious competitive edge. But they realise that the current climate crisis needs to take priority over protecting their IP. I think we all need to do the same — not that we all have high tech life cycle assessment tools to share, but if we’re all prepared to share knowledge and commit to helping each other without an agenda, we will see all sorts of progress.
You’ve worked across the board in fashion – from smaller local brands to large wholesalers to not-for-profits, in production, communications, ethics and education(!). With all these experiences you must have quite a unique insight of our industry as a whole. What are the biggest take-aways from your career thus far, any gems of advice?
Jeepers that’s a big question Francey!! But I’m actually going to give a simple answer. I think that genuine, lasting change (both personally and systemically) can only happen when we crave it and pursue it really authentically.
Don’t try and change everything overnight. Pick one thing that stands out to you and work on changing that - such as biking to work instead of driving, investing in a compost bin, eating less meat etc etc. Once you’ve done that, pick another, and so on. It’s better to start small and let your impact grow, rather than coming in hot, getting overwhelmed, and never really making meaningful change. We have to believe that if many people take small steps, we can actually start to heal the planet.
Progress over perfection – I’m so on board with this. On the other side of the coin - how do you ground yourself, relax and unwind?
Give me a week’s holiday, a handful of my favourite people, a mix of slow and semi-active starts and some overly-planned meals, and Bob's your uncle. To ground myself - taking a few moments in my day to stop and breathe, count my blessings and remind myself to continue on with a little more intention and care.
What does LOCLAIRE mean to you?
Beautiful simplicity, with a fresh edge.
And finally, what are you most looking forward to in the year ahead?
For the arrival of the first baby on my side of the family! My sister and her husband are due in September and I'm beyond excited to watch them become parents, and to welcome the wee thing into our family.
ANNIE'S PICKS -
Your favourite podcast - Another Name For Every Thing with Richard Rohr
A song that gets you moving - Gang of Youths – Magnolia
Your ultimate dinner party menu - Pasta with a side of tomatoes and burrata, and a simple rocket salad.
Wise words to live by - “It [the pandemic] is a portal, a gateway between one world and the next. We can choose to walk through it, dragging the carcasses of our prejudice and hatred, our avarice, our data banks and dead ideas, our dead rivers and smoky skies behind us. Or we can walk through lightly, with little luggage, ready to imagine another world. And ready to fight for it.” - Arundhati Roy