1. Can you tell us a little bit about your background/history that has led you to this point?
Karina and I long new we’d collaborate and it was just a matter of when. I had been working in Gilimbaa Indigenous Creative Agency for three years and Karina had been working in the local food movement in Brooklyn. When we came together we were inspired by businesses driven with purpose. We researched the circular economy concept in depth and became obsessed with using waste as a resource, and finding ways to close the loop. We were super excited when we found a mill in Tasmania who used the offcuts from the factory floor to make new yarn. That, coupled with a desire to use an Australian resource like wool, lead to the idea of blankets. And it just made sense.
2. Tell us about your product/brand and the inspiration behind it?
Seljak Brand is finding new ways of making and using beautiful things that are regenerative by design. Our first product is a recycled merino wool blanket made from offcuts from the factory floor of Australia’s oldest mill in Tasmania. The blankets are made in the same mill from 70% recycled Australian merino wool and a 30% blend of recycled alpaca, mohair and polyester for strength. Seljak Brand launched in March 2016 and has since worked towards accelerating the transition towards a more circular economy.
3. How does sustainability play a role in your brand/product development? How important has this been to consumers?
Integrating sustainability throughout our business is the core of Seljak Brand. Not only are our blankets made from a recycled material – that is, offcuts from the factory floor, we have developed an end of life system so we can re-manufacture blankets if people don’t want them any more. That said, a product with longevity is more sustainable that remanufacturing so, first and foremost, we aim to provide extremely high quality blankets that last for as long as possible. The blankets that have come out of the mill we’re working with have been known to last beyond a lifetime.
Beyond environmental sustainability, we want to ensure working conditions are safe and fair which is why local manufacturing has been key. Also, for every 10 blankets we sell we send one to the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre in Melbourne.
4. What are your thoughts on the future role sustainability plays both professionally in business and in our everyday lifestyle choices, in regards to the future health of our planet?
It’s absolutely pivotal. Like Greta Thunberg says, we must panic, we must act like our house is on fire! Because it is. Limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius should be on everyone’s agenda; from government to corporates, individuals to communities.
5. How does technology and innovation play a role in your business?
We believe the paradigm shift from the take-make-waste model towards circular loops and systems is the way forward. We want to create products that challenge the existing method of manufacturing and innovation is key. By providing a collection scheme for our blankets we take the onus of our customers for ‘getting rid’ of the product that we create. In that sense, we’re taking responsibility for the whole life cycle of the product. When we’ll collect blankets, we can reincorporate them into the manufacturing process (the same way the offcuts are shredded and spun into new yarn at the moment). As such, we are closing the loop – ensuring our products are kept at their highest value at all times, never ending up in landfill.
6. How important do you think transparency and authenticity in brands is to consumers?
It’s become more and more important and we have very engaged customers who want to know who makes their products, where and how. Which is great! Since the devastating collapse of the Rana Plaza factory in Bangladesh 6 years ago, the people’s movement Fashion Revolution has encouraged transparency across the industry, forcing large companies to take responsibility for their supply chains.
7. What does wilderness mean to you?
A place where biodiversity flourishes, a place that brings peace to the mind and a place that is regenerative in it’s natural design.
8. Imagine you're looking back in 25 years time, what would be the legacy that you would hope for your brand to leave behind?
We would like to be known as a brand that acted responsibly in regards to the climate crisis, that affected change, and that helped to prove that closed loop manufacturing in textiles was possible.
9. What message do you have for those starting their own business in regards to sustainability and innovation?
Do your research! There is so much incredible information out there and authenticity has become key! Reading books like Donut Economics by Kate Raworth and Let My People Go Surfing by Yvon Chouinard have been great and understanding schools of thought like Cradle to Cradle and Biomimicry have helped us redefine what business can mean.
10. What brands do you admire?
Our friends have started some pretty amazing brands and business, all of which I greatly admire… NICO Underwear, Loop Growers, Suitcase Rummages, hejhej mats, Vino Kilo, Well Made Clothes, Holly Ryan to name a few!