Ethics and Sustainability
At this point in the business, it is quite easy to talk about manufacturing but this will not always be the case as I grow the business. When the day comes that I need a few more extra sewing hands I shall be very open about where I am sourcing the extra help but at this stage all manufacturing is done my moi in my west Melbourne studio. (Yes that’s what I call the spare bedroom)
When you purchase an item from Ebony bolts you can check out where and how the item got to you from woe to go. This is a little tricky when the places I buy some of the fabrics are not super forthright with where they get the fabric made.
There are also economic factors to consider – we can’t pretend that everyone can afford stuff that is made from super expensive fabric which closes the sustainable clothing movement off from a lot of people. So in order to create more affordable products we have used some fabrics that come from discount fabric warehouses and this price point is taken into account when pricing.
Fabric Sources and Printing
Our Main Patterned material
This fabric is sourced and printed at Next State Print – a fantastic company also in Melbourne and to check out their sustainability practises and commitment to ethical practices please check out their page. https://nextstateprint.com/sustainability/
You can also check out the fabric details on their site here - I mainly Use Como, Oxford and Soho
All Tie Dying is done in house at Ebony Bolts and we use a technique that uses minimal dye and water
Plain Cotton, Linen, Calico
At the moment I have been sourcing these from spotlight. I know, I know Its not ideal but the selection is large, and the price point allows me to not charge $400 for a dress.
I am working on finding new sources for plain cottons and linens, so if you have any tips on where to buy them hit me up here. I am very conscious as to use all the remaining fabric before I move to a new vendor
Elastics, Zips, Threads, and Trims
There is a place called Ebony Craft (So I mean I gotta use them right??) they are an Australian Manufacturer check them out here https://ebonycraft.com.au/about
There is also a ma and pa fabric and trims store on Smith Street in Collingwood that has been there forever that I adore. Now I am not 100% sure about where they source their products from, but I do know that during the pandemic not only did they help me source the much-coveted elastic for mask making during the shortage.
I think it is important to help other small businesses so if its a choice of me giving money to them over a larger fancy company that has “organic cotton” I think this is ok. You may disagree and that is also ok.
There are a few other places I have sourced materials and trims from
Upparels are Australia’s first digital textile recycling solution and they do a bloody great job – they also occasionally give away bolts of fabric when they are overstocked and I was lucky enough to line up one early morning in Braeside and grab a few.
Plus you can recycle your clothes with them…Ugh love great people doing great things
African Print Fabrics
We source our fabrics from https://africanfabricsaustralia.com/pages/about-us
What we do in studio to minimise wastage
We have a few practises to ensure that we keep wastage to a minimum
Make to order:
Manufacturing in house allows me to not have to make a certain quantity – so I will buy a ‘guestimate’ of how much fabric I will need and then make them up according to the orders I receive that way if I produce an item that isn’t really selling then I’m not stuck with a heap of it at the end of a season, this also allows me to offer a wide variety of items to customers with minimal overheads.
Recycle and Reuse
When I am sewing I have a big laundry basket under the desk that all the scraps go into – all the wastage is then sorted to see if there are still usable pieces and the rest is cut up to make once off pieces such as the stuffing for dog beds and fabric mache (yep that’s a thing exhibition coming soon haha)
No throw Policy
Our aim is everything that comes into the studio needs to be either reused or recycled and nothing goes into landfill. Sometimes the place can look like an episode of hoarders but not out of sight outta mind – so it is important to be aware of your consumption
Packaging and Mailers
We currently use those compostable bags that I am pretty sure no one composts (Is that cynical or practical?)
We use hero packaging https://heropackaging.com.au/
We try to keep packaging to a minimum but we have to balance that with customers expecting a certain level or professionalism and heck yeah we want to make things look pretty for yall.
Sustainable Printing Co. https://www.sustainableprintingco.com.au/ - Melbourne based and really have it down when it comes to sustainable practice’s
Canva - Yep they do printing, plant a tree, and use sustainable paper www.canva.com. I know that there are a lot on canva haters that poo poo using their product but for a small business they are a game changer – especially for one that is lean (read no monies honies) we aint got 1000’s in the budget for a designer and marketing team and we don’t want to pass those costs onto you dear customer so for $20 a month I have a makeshift marketing department
We have a few options
If you are within a 10km radius to me I try to hand deliver on my bike or foot falcon depending on the distance and how much exercise I need that day.
- Sendle – Our first point of call for a courier is https://www.sendle.com/en-au They are a 100 % carbon offset service
- Australia Post – Australia post just delivers everywhere
- Sherpa – Melbourne Only – we use this courier service for quick deliveries
Ethics and sustainability are important, and this must include how people are treated when working within and with the company. There is no point of having a company that is ‘doing good’ but is horrible to work for or treats its nearest and dearest like shit. So in line with treating people fairly in the supply chain this extends to how Ebony bolts treats people in the company and its customers
Ebony Bolts is for everyone which means we want to be accessible to everyone – if you have accessibility needs, we are not meeting let us know and we will bring you into the conversation
Your size is not available? Hit us up we will ensure we accommodate you.
We want every interaction to be one of respect and fun but if you have an issue, please come let us talk about it. This does not mean we will always agree or change our policies but we are always up for a chat to understand where you are coming from and you will also be respectful in listening to where we come from and why we make certain choices.
This is a living document and I hope to evolve it over time with a greater look into new technology in regards to fabrics and how the blockchain will create a fully transparent accountable supply chain
I will update when I find better ways to do things and I hope that as we grow we can create a company that is an agent for good change, responsible retail and social enterprise