I wanted to kick off this sparkly new year of kindness with an exclusive interview with Sydney-based eco-designer Banika Smee.
Banika – Owner + Designer of Witjuti Bamboo Clothing – is determined to bring you sustainable bamboo fashion that effortlessly combines comfort and class with a uniquely Australian flavour. It was my pleasure to speak with Banika about her journey and the eco-ethos behind her brand.
Q. Can you tell us a little bit about how Witjuti came to be and what drew you to bamboo as a fabric?
It was after working as an Operations Director/Graphic Designer for 10+ years, when I started to think about having kids. I knew I could not do a 50+ hour work week with kids. So I started to think about starting my own business.
I started the business doing Graphic Design but it was after I bought some Bamboo undies, that I fell in love with the fabric. It just felt so soft and didn’t irritate my skin. So I started researching, and could not find much clothing for women in this fabric, so it was then I started designing my own clothing range specialising in Bamboo fabric.
Q. How would you describe Witjuti in 10 words or less?
Australian Designed, Organic, Ethical, Bamboo Clothing for Men & Women with every day comfort in mind.
Q. What makes your clothing a great choice for environmentally and socially conscious shoppers?
- Bamboo is Eco-friendly – The bamboo plant absorbs 35% more carbon dioxide than an equivalent tree and it does not use up precious water resources
- Bamboo is Organic – Due to its natural antibacterial properties it is grown pesticide free, herbicide free, GMO free. The bamboo we use is also certified organic by The Organic Crop Improvement Association (OCIA), which means each bamboo stalk is 100 per cent natural and without any chemical pesticides
- Bamboo is 100% Biodegradable – so bamboo garments can be composted
- Ethical Manufacturing - Our manufacturer's working conditions are ethically certified by Fair For Life
Q. Which ethical designers are inspiring you right now?
I am loving Lalesso at the moment, their colours and designs are inspired from Africa – a place I would love to go one day.
Q. Does the natural landscape of Australia influence your designs at all?
I keep my designs simple and timeless. My influence from Australia is mainly from the coast, I have always lived on the Northern beaches of Sydney, and travel up and down the coast on holidays. So initially my colour choices have been influence by the blues and sandy tones.
I name all my pieces after an Indigenous Australian word that has meaning and connection to that design for me. For example, our women’s lounge pants are call “Kalina” the Indigenous Australian word for “love”, because really I LOVE these pants.
Q. What advice would you give to other designers thinking of starting their own eco-friendly label?
Stick to your goals, focus on your dream and the rest will follow!
Q. Do you have a favourite item that you’ve created?
Would have to say the women’s lounge pants, I wear them everyday, either out, at home or to bed. They are the pants I get straight into when I get home, or I search the washing basket for!
Q. What does the future hold for Witjuti?
Definitely more designs and more colours. We released the men’s range in July 2013 and it has been very popular, so we will be expanding the men’s range too.
We will also be available from more retail stores throughout Australia and Internationally.
You can also find Witjuti on Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter! Stay tuned for our exclusive Kindness by Design review of one of these ecochic pieces :-)