Owner of the ETHICAL SILK COMPANY, EVA POWER, talks through what inspired her to start her own business, her FASHION INDULGENCES and her favourite fictional heroine …
What was the initial inspiration for launching your company?
My aunt lives in India and has always sent home beautiful silk scarves as special gifts which my mum used on her pillow as it is so good for her skin and hair. Her mother always wore a silk scarf wrapped around her hair while in the house so, following suit, my mum passed the habit onto my sister and I. It was Mum’s encouragement that inspired me to start The Ethical Silk Company, starting out at first with pillowcases and cot sheets.
You made a choice to do business ethically – was this actually difficult technically?
While researching silk production, I saw how regular silk was made by boiling the silk worms alive. Wanting to find an alternative, I found Ahimsa Silk, an eco-friendly mulberry silk. With a unique production process, the silk is different to regular silk by not having such a shiny finish but more of a natural matt lustre whilst being beautifully soft and lightweight. I am committed to keeping with this eco-friendly silk and although it means my manufacturer options are limited, I love the silk and don’t want to use any other. We also work solely with Fairtrade tailoring units. I have huge confidence and trust in our current unit, but it has taken a number of sampling and working with various units to get to where we are now. As there is a smaller pool of Fairtrade tailoring units, it can be difficult to find a consistently reliable one so I was delighted once I began working with our current unit and experienced their high standards and ethical practices. After establishing this relationship and confidence in their workmanship, I felt it was time to expand and so we launched our ladies loungewear range in December 2015.
Do you have any mentors?
I regularly use mentors from the Local Enterprise Office and find them to be really good. I also have a few friends who run their own businesses and am constantly bouncing things off them. Sara Banks of Steamline Luggage is a good friend who has been a fountain of knowledge.
Any mottos or rules you live by?
If it were easy everyone would do it.
Watch your cash flow like a hawk.
Favourite heroine in fiction?
Ellen Ripley (Signourney Weaver in Alien).
What have you learned about launching your own business?
No matter how well established your systems are, unexpected issues will always arise that may be out of your control so you just have to learn to deal with that. I’ve had issues with monsoon in India arriving early and affecting when the silk can be ready for tailoring, making deadlines exceptionally tight. I really didn’t anticipate that when starting out and as stressed as I used to get about it, there’s really nothing that can be done so I try to keep things in perspective and problem solve as best I can.
What are fashion indulgences?
These days my fashion is pretty relaxed (one of the perks of working from home) so unless I have a meeting, I’m usually in jeans and a shirt. I try to buy clothes that I’ll have for years – buy less but better quality. I bought a leather jacket ten years ago that was expensive but I wear it all the time and it gets better with age. I mainly shop online as there is access to amazing clothing companies that follow ethical practices. A lot of the retailers sell exclusively online to keep prices competitive and more affordable while being ethically made.
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