Tuesday, 27 December 2011

Ethical Designer Spotlight: Oak Fine Jewellery

Introducing two amazing artists, Parul Tolentino and Jo-Anne Owdud from Oak Fine Jewellery - when I first came across these talented designers I was transported to a world of whimsy and delight. Their design aesthetic is sublime and their ethics are both honourable and eco. I hope you enjoy my interview with these unique individuals!

 Q. Where did the name “OAK” spring from?
OAK was named to evoke a sense of strength, heritage and beauty.
Q. How would you sum up OAK’s design aesthetic?
OAK’s designs are inspired by the wonders of our heritage with a playful nostalgia. Each piece has sentimentality that holds an element of our past and brings it into our future.

Q. How did you start down this path of jewellery design?
We both studied jewellery design at Central Saint Martins in London and went onto forge careers in the fast throwaway world of high street fashion jewellery.  It was here that we met and worked together.  Realising we shared the same design ethics we decided to create our own brand.  We wanted to design and create beautiful jewellery that would last more than one lifetime and that would be treasured and passed down through generations to come.

Q. If you had to choose another career for yourself, what would that be?
Jo-Anne - wow! My other career choice is an alter ego of actually being able to sing and dance and to be in a west-end musical, channeling some Julie Andrews…  A very unlikely dream!
Parul - I have more humble aspirations! I would like to have run a florist or to write and illustrate children’s books
 Q. Can you tell us a little bit about what makes OAK an eco-conscious label?
OAK does have strong ethical foundations. We see ourselves as a super-luxe brand with a heart.  We are proud to be amongst one of the first jewellers to be a Fairtrade licensee. Our metals are either Fairtrade or recycled and our stones are ethically sourced.

OAK is also made in Britain intentionally to support British manufacturing and to enable us the assurance of good and ethical work practices and to cut down on some of our ecological impact.

Q. What advice would you give to designers who are interested in becoming more sustainable?

It can prove challenging in terms of sourcing and manufacturing. But any steps that can be taken are appreciated. It seem, rightly that this is where the future is heading and people are more conscious of where their products come from. There is of course always more that can be done but small steps can still make a difference.
Q. What is one of the most personally rewarding pieces you've ever produced?

The Treasured Tree without a doubt. It held so much magic and emotion to both of us in the design stage and we worked through technical challenges to produce something that captures the story that inspired it.
Q. OAK is a collaborative effort between two amazing designers. Walk us through the creative process when you work as a team.
We both love beautifully made objects with a good story to tell and items that bring emotion in the wearer. An element of humor is also added in our mix. We work really closely together and are always on the same inspirational headspace. We are constantly designing and create an abundance of designs. We edit carefully ensuring that every piece is integral to its collection and stands well on its own. 
Q. What does the future hold for OAK Fine Jewellery?
Lots more beautiful jewellery collections!  We hope you like what you see…

Here are some of Kindness by Design's favourite pieces:

Richmond Park Collection

"The Treasured Tree" - An enchanting pendant with a sweet surprise made from fairtrade 18ct yellow and white gold along with recycled silver

"The Treasured Tree" - Signature OAK clasp

"Fallen for You" - Stunning 18ct fairtrade yellow gold bangle with intricate hand-sculpted leaf designs

"If Trees Could Talk" - Hand-carved slice of oak in 18ct fairtrade gold. Wonderfully unique!

"I'll Always Remember - Classic Ring" - Stunning ring inspired by the natural beauty of branches and made from recycled silver

"Autumn Changed" -A study in recycled silver capturing a moment in the life of an autumn leaf 

Love Letters Collection

"Our Love Will Bloom Ring" - The word 'lover' is elegantly crafted in fairtrade gold

"In Our Hearts - Earrings" - Lusciously romantic earrings with a special selection of gemstones which cheekily spell out LOVER: Lemon diamond, Opaque jasper, Violet spinnel, Emerald and Ruby

"In Our Hearts - Bracelet" - Sublimely delicate bracelet with the signature LOVER gemstones

MINE Collection
"MINE eternal ring" - Dreamy silver ring with a lovely ethically sourced diamond

"MINE Necklace" - A delicate ethical diamond necklace

You can also find OAK on Facebook and Twitter at @OAKFJewellery, @OAKjoanne and @OAKparul

Sunday, 11 December 2011

A Fashion Label That's Ethical to a Tee

I'd like to introduce you to a new label that's trying to make the world a better place, one tee at a time. Here's my recent interview with the passionate owner and founder of The Little White T Shirt Company, Lynette Scott. 

Q. Can you tell us a little about how The Little White T Shirt Company was conceived?

I have always had an interest in clothing from a consumer standpoint. However, last year I became very conscience of the ethics and sustainability behind what we purchased. So after a few drinks one night, I decided to tackle the situation head on. And so came about The Little White T Shirt Company - a clear conscience clothing line where everything is Fairtrade, Organic or Sustainable.
Q. What are the keys factors that make The Little White T Shirt Company an ecologically responsible choice for shoppers?

We manufacture in a zero discharge facility in Tamil Nadu India. We also have wind turbines which provide the majority of the electricity for our production.

Q. What does it mean to be certified Fairtrade and who benefits?

There are many people who benefit from the Fairtrade certification premium, including cotton planters and growers who are paid a fair price for their raw products all the way through the supply chain to the manufacturer. 
Fairtrade premiums put back into the community other great things including education programmes, health care and other things we take for granted such as clean drinking water.

Q. When it comes to fashion, who and what inspires you?

Many designers inspire me, but their ethics are still a long way behind what I would hope to achieve. I am truly inspired by Amanda Ryan at bachhara and what she is achieving in her ethical production of clothing in Bangladesh.
Q. You’re from Western Australia, home to Australia’s only internationally recognised biodiversity hotspot (the Southwest Australia Ecoregion) – do you have a favourite native plant or animal?

I love EVERYTHING about WA. It would be very hard for me to choose a favourite animal or plant as there are so many, but if I had to choose then I would say a quokka is my favourite WA animal, it's a tiny marsupial which lives on beautiful Rottnest Island. My favourite plant would have to be Kangaroo Paws, they have a beautiful bloom and a wonderful furry type flower. 
Q. In your opinion, what is the most pressing environmental concern for the 21st century?

Sustainability of the planet in many areas are the most pressing issues for the world globally. We are populating the planet faster than our resources can be replenished. We need to find ways of providing sustainable products without genetically modifying them. We need to harness what nature is providing us with and nurture it.

Q. What does the future hold for The Little White T-Shirt Company?

Hopefully, GROWTH! We hope that people will understand with ethics and sustainability we are nurturing the planet and its people. We all need clothing, so let's at least all try to make the right choice in where we purchase and what we purchase. Cost cannot be the biggest factor as low cost's mean low ethics, low standards and quality.

You can also find The Little White T-Shirt Company on Facebook

Monday, 5 December 2011

Tis the Season to be Sustainable

Add some kindness to your gift giving this year with these cruelty free and eco-friendly picks from Kindness by Design:

Eco Kids of All Ages

Ni-night Newborn Gift Box from Naturally Gifted - Inside this sweet gift pack are organic baby clothes, calming balm, a Peter Rabbit book as well as a fairtrade + organic bunny :D
Wyler Softie by The Little Sparrow - Gorgeous and quirky fairtrade cotton toy made in Nepal
Rabbit Stag Print Boy's Tee by Stella McCartney - 100% organic cotton and 100% cute!
Reversible Multi Coloured Sun Hat from People Tree - 100% organic cotton. Love the bright colours, perfect for baby's trip to the beach
Children's Owl Belt by Hip Brown - Delightful vegan owl belt
Organic Pinafore by Little Bird, Little Bird - This extraordinarily beautiful pinafore was made using solar power!
Whales Sketchbook from EcoJot - Magical marine-themed sketchbook for arty kids. Both the paper and board is made from 100% post-consumer waste
Blocks by Green Toys - Beautiful blocks to boost your child's mind! Made from 100% recycled plastic milk containers and coloured with soy inks. These blocks won the "Cool Mums Pick of the Year 2010"
Bee Good T-Shirt by People Tree - 100% organic cotton
Weedy Sea-Dragon Toy by Eclectic Critters - An eye-catching hypoallergenic toy filled with rice. Learn more about weedy sea-dragons
Colouring Crayon Travel Kit by Handmade Baby - Comes complete with 8 crayons and a colouring pad
Timber Flower Stacker by Grimm's Spiel & Holz - This is a gorgeous room decoration as well as a fun toy for kids. Made from sustainably sourced timber and dyed with water-based dyes and treated with pure vegetable oil
Katie Smock Dress from People Tree - Handwoven cotton dress made by skilled artisans in Bangladesh
3 Little Ones Organic Baby Skin Care Set by Bottoms Up - Lovely certified organic skin care range for babies. No irritating chemicals!
Ecosaucer Flying Disc from Green Toys - Made from 100% recycled plastic shopping bags. This is old school fun with a new environmental twist!
Sapling Girls Bodysuit by Ettitude - Made from 100% organic cotton and lace under fair trade terms and conditions in India
Aussie Animals Blanket from Wild Bubs Designer Baby Wares - Unique animal prints inspired by Aboriginal artwork
Freezer Pods by Wein Meister - BPA free, these silicon pods are perfect for freezing baby food and milk
Fairtrade Snakes and Ladders Board Game from Ethikl - Delightful hand crafted game made in India, the home of Snakes and Ladders!
"Me...Jane" by Patrick McDonnell - Heartwarming tales from Jane Goodall's youth. Learn more about this amazing conservationist 

Green-minded Girls

Organic Soap Gift Box from EcoCentric - Sumptuous organic soaps that will have you constantly reminding yourself not to eat them ;o)
Home Necklace by Bells for getsneaky - A fun new take on jewellery with upcycled keyboard keys
TNH Leaf Tee by The Naked Hippie - Great looking tee made from 50% organic cotton and 50% recycled polyester with water-based print inking
Coconut and Lime Organic Lip Balm by Absolutely Gorgeous - Transport your lips to a tropical paradise!

Gift Voucher for Annie Greenabelle - Have trouble picking something out for your ecochic friend? Why not grab her a gift voucher for ethical fashion label Annie Greenabelle?

Just Eyes by Herbfarmacy - Organic eye cream made from cornflower and Siberian ginseng
Arches Scarf by Kowtow Clothing - Made from premium fairtrade organic cotton, this elegant versatile scarf can also be used as a shawl and even a hoodie
makeKit D.I.Y. Tote Bag from Harvest Textiles - A fabulous gift for that crafty friend :D
MCMC Organic Fragrances by Anne McClain - Delightful roll-on perfume, perfect size for travel
Brooch by The Social Studio - This joyful brooch is just one of the amazing items created by young refugees at The Social Studio
Mini Bamboo Eco Brush Set from Furless Makeup Brushes - This eco friendly travel kit comes with; a powder brush; a blush brush; 2 eyeshadow brushes; a crease brush; AND a brow/eyelash groomer!
Vintage Brass Pyramid Bijoux Cuff by Stella McCartney - For that super-chic woman in your life
Noma Faux Leather Belt by Matt & Nat - Brilliantly hip vegan accessory, give your outfit some stylish street cred
The Ideal of Calm Is Jumbo Journal from EcoJot - Darling notebook made from 100% post-consumer waste and featuring a fantastic feline quote from French author Jules Renard
Denim Fabric Patchwork Clutch by Bliss Joy Bull - This effervescent clutch is made from mill end fabric and scraps
Turquoise Flowers & Lace Steel Boned Underbust Corset by Purrfect Pineapples - Naughty but nice lingerie from this cruelty-free label. Made with vintage fabrics 

Chaps with a Conscience

Kitty Tee by Hendrick Boards - 100% organic cotton tee with proceeds from each sale going to help shelter animals. Real men love cats!
White Musk for Men Eau De Toilette by The Body Shop - Fresh crisp fragrance for the modern man
Tagua Watch from Knots & Stones - This unique designer watch is made from tagua nut, bamboo and chirilla seeds
iPhone Case by Elvis & Kresse - Made from recycled fire-hose, it's a great choice for the macho man in your life!
Eco Beer Gift Hamper from Naturally Gifted -Features organic beer and tasty organic eatables
Wooden Origami Cufflinks by Polli - Crafted by a low CO2 company and made using sustainable plantation hoop pine
Love Etiko Gift Certificate - For blokes who are hard to buy for!
Eco Abstract Printed Speakers by Eco Nation - Stylish speakers made from up to 80% recycled materials for the music lovers who also love the environment!
Gaia for Men Shave Gel from The Cruelty Free Shop - Made with luscious organic and vegan ingredients
Also check out The Green Man

Purrfect for Pets

Eco-Hip Organic Bamboo Dog Collar from The Animal Rescue Site - 100% biodegradable and a portion of the proceeds go towards green projects
Sally Sisal Mouse Rope Cat Toy from Modern Cat -Cute natural fiber toy for the kitty who prefers their mice to look abstract =^..^=
Organic Dog Treats by Waggy Dog Bakehouse - Healthy tasty treats for pups with 10% of proceeds going towards the Dogs Refuge Home
Thundershirt Calming Dog Wrap from The Animal Rescue Site - This is just what the vet ordered for hounds dealing with harassed nerves during storms and other anxiety invoking canine situations
Wave Lounge Eco Friendly Cat Scratcher and Lounge by Modern Cat - 5% of proceeds go towards cats in need
Orbee-Tuff Adoption Awareness Ball from The Animal Rescue Site - Non-toxic, recyclable and minty fresh ball for hours of doggy fun with an important message
Vegan Pet Shampoo from The Cruelty Free Shop - Made with tea tree oil and Pyrethrum daisy
Scratch'n Pads with Organic Catnip by Imperial Cat - This great kitty fun pack includes scratch pads made from 100% post-consumer recycled paper and certified organic cat nip. With each purchase The Animal Rescue Site donates 14 bowls of food to shelter animals
Squirrel and Acorn Hemp Dog Leash from Muttropolis - Resistant to mold and UV light with an extremely cute design

I Heart Planet Earth Households

Driftwood Bird from Eco Chic - Made from pieces of driftwood washed up on the beach. Bring the outdoors inside!
Chequers Lamp by Phoebe Lamps - A very fun feature of Phoebe Lamps is that you can purchase a variety of paper inserts to change your lamp's look to match a room or occasion! These unique lamps are made from non-toxic recyclable plastic
Recycled Tyre Moroccan Placemats by Ruba - Stunning placemats made from recycled tyres and shoe soles! Love!
Kangaroo Paw Wine Carrier by Stilelemente -Beautiful Australian flora print on a hemp and organic cotton blend by a carbon-neutral designer
Lychee Flavoured Byron Ice Tea by Byron Tea Company - Made in the traditional way with handpicked organic green tea and zero preservatives
Vegan Gingerbread Christmas Cookies by Folk - Delicious gift to take along to Christmas get togethers
Seed Bombs by VisualLingual - The only gardening skill needed is the ability to toss these babies into the air and onto some soil 
Bamboo Salad Bowl by Bambu - This stylish salad bowl has been hand coiled using certified organic bamboo and is suitable for both hot and cold food. Adore this colour!
Vinyl Record Party Tray from Love Eco - Funky and functional these party trays give new life to unwanted LPs 
Help a Family Grow a Grove of Miracle Trees via Oxfam - This gift will allow a family in need to plant their own grove of moringa trees, known for containing antibiotic properties and providing water purification services