I am a writer and executive administrator for Trusted Clothes, which is an ethical and sustainable fashion organization. The following is a series devoted in honor of the work done in collaboration with the Schroeckers and the Trusted Clothes team. Part 1.
Tell us about yourself – family background, personal story, education, and previous professional capacities.
I grew up in the middle of nowhere Maryland, USA where I always had a passion for travel and learning about cultures different than my own. My Dad frequently went overseas for work, and brought back beautiful handicrafts, which sparked my interest to understand the meaning behind them and how they were created. I often found myself bringing these in for ‘show and tell’ – proud of his travels.
After high school, I made my way to George Mason University in Virginia where I studied Marketing. I had done a semester in Australia and fell absolutely in love with it, so moved here permanently after I finished my degree.
I still continued to dabble in Marketing professionally, but found my passion for working with weave artisans after I went on a 5-week trek through South East Asia, and made good friends with my Black Hmong tour guide in Sapa, Vietnam. She had explained to me that this ancient textile-making tradition was on the verge of going extinct. This triggered the idea to move to Vietnam for a year and work with these artisans directly.
What is the importance of sustainable fashion?
Sustainable fashion has the ability to solve bigger social issues in society, which I find so powerful! It can be a solution to poverty, bad working conditions, human trafficking, environmental-issues, loss of cultures and so much more.
You are the founder of Wild Tussah. What is it?
Wild Tussah preserves ancient weave cultures through incorporating artisan textiles in sustainable handbag designs. We also partner up with other designers who use our textiles, and tell our artisans’ stories.
What are your long-term goals for Wild Tussah?
Long-term we plan to expand the weave communities we work with to other countries, and to track how Wild Tussah is making a difference in our artisans’ lives.
Your weavers are the Lu people, the Cham people, and the Hmong people. Who are the Lu people?
The Lu people we work with are a unique, remote group who live in the northern mountains of Vietnam. They are known for their black teeth dyed with a black-honey shrub and benzoin resin paste. It can take them 3-6 months to make the vintage skirts we use in our handbag designs as it is both woven and embroidered.
Who are the Cham people?
The Cham people we work with live in Ninh Thuan Province. You can find quite a few beautiful Cham pagodas around Vietnam including Po Nager in Nha Trang. Often their textile motifs represent what they see around them – trees, animal footprints, fruit and vegetables.
All images courtesy of www.trustedclothes.com.