It’s been a whirlwind year for Adelaide-based fashion enterprise From Found. Brainchild of three homegrown girls – Hannah Materne, Lauren Bonnet and Annie Graetz – the not-for-profit brand has gone from strength to strength since releasing their first collection and the last time we spoke to them. Successful crowdfunding, continual ethical employment of women from refugee backgrounds and sourcing/designing/producing their brand new collection – set to launch this weekend – are just a few of the things they’ve been up to.
For those unfamiliar with the venture, the three young women started with an idea to create an ethical fashion label and a not-for-profit with the aim of employing women from refugee backgrounds that might find it difficult to find work once they arrive on our shores. The idea has obviously resonated with people after an amazing $40,000 crowdfunding campaign helped them start a workshop, production and selling their first physical products at local favourite Bowerbird Design Market in November last year.
“We are so grateful for the support we received through the crowdfunder and continue receive from our volunteers,” Hannah says of the journey so far. “But naturally entering a competitive market like the fashion industry has meant we constantly need to be learning and surrounding ourselves with people with different skills and expertise so we can not only thrive as both a fashion label and a NFP”.
Their new collection – which they have graciously allowed us to share with you for the first time – is set to launch this weekend and continues to use recycled fabrics. “We are still using reclaimed fabric from past projects and other designers, including Etiko’s fairtrade organic cotton,” Hannah says. “But for our Serena Jumper – named after Serena Williams – we also purchased 100% organic unbrushed fleece cotton”.
Continuing on their original ethos, they currently employ four women with refugee backgrounds that have come from the Middle East and Africa. “Our main focus is to provide employment to women from refugee backgrounds and see them empowered with further skills and training,” says Hannah. Alongside these women, Hannah, Lauren and Annie have continued to learn from the process of their first venture and apply these lessons to the new collection.
“As a NFP, our production and workshop run differently to other fashion labels,” she explains. “We always need to allow time for learning and through this collection we have aimed to design pieces that enable our women to expand their skills, while also allowing us as a fashion label to meet consumer demand”.
A part of this consumer demand is adding an extra layer of uniqueness onto their already unique pieces – a very special customisation option on the website. “We noticed that while our customers love our one-of-a-kind pieces, they really enjoy creating their own pieces from their favourite fabrics,” Hannah says of the customisation process. “Our customers love to be creative and use this skill to create their own signature look – they don’t want to look like everyone else,” she continues. For the current collection, people can organise an appointment to customise in person or via email but it will be even easier with the upcoming collection with a three-step system built into the website.
With slow fashion on the rise and buzz words like sustainability constantly floating around the fashion sphere, we ask them for tips that they can share from their journey so far with From Found. According to the girls, it all starts from reprogramming your beliefs. “…our behaviour and belief system around fashion needs to change,” Hannah says. “As consumers, we have a lot of power to demand change from the fashion industry but we need to start placing value on quality, ethics and sustainability over quantity and trends”. On a second note, more isn’t always better. “…start to appreciate and value the clothing we have [and] from there it’s really about shopping second hand and supporting labels, who are trying to make a difference”.
To this day, From Found is still completely run by volunteers – 99% being women who just believe so much in the cause so to them customer support is vital. “When you buy a From Found piece, you’re only getting a new piece of clothing, you’re supporting sustainable and ethical production, and Australian made,” Hannah explains. “…while also enabling the employment of women from refugee backgrounds, who face many challenges when trying to enter the workforce”.
They launch their second collection this Saturday but Hannah says they still have quite a few exciting things coming up on the horizon. “…new products and collaborations and while we can’t share specifics just yet, we definitely recommend following From Found on social media because we have some very exciting limited edition fabric coming soon – it’s definitely an opportunity not to be missed”.
See a selection of our favourite shots from their new campaign below and click through here to see the full gallery.