It is true, I watched "The True Cost" and had an epiphany that I never thought was going to happen. Working in fashion for this many years I have encountered all manner of issue surrounding margins, cost competition, moving factories, cost cutting... and also fabrics, design and manufacturing methods. All of those areas seem too disconnected to us over here in New Zealand. But I felt that I needed to make a difference somehow and it was going to have to start with me.
How do you make a change? You do it! How can you make your mark? Dare to try! How can you make it happen? Meh, money wah wah. Ok so I need money. I saved like a DEMON for a year and just started it.... started my own business.
And thus OKI was born. Clearly there is more to it than 'just ok I will do this' and then *BAM* money. There were sleepless nights wanting to make change happen. There were scraps of paper written on with great ideas that ultimately were screwed up and thrown in the bin until, suddenly, the stark reality was just in front of me. My own kid.
There are many facets to this journey for me, for us, for my family - one of them centers around my own daughter, who at 9 years old, was essentially being forced by commercialism to buy into the early sexualisation of children and wearing clothing that just wasn't suitable for someone of her age. I admit that dressing kids to look like mini-adults is kind of cute - but also very disturbing.
Milla is nine. She is in fact, a very young nine too. She still plays with barbies (yep - so the eco contradictions begin), she reads books about farts and plays house setting up multitudes of little play-spaces that ultimately end up being adhered to my feet when I inadvertently tread on them. Little sharp bits of plastic hurt - just to clear that up. And she is a kid.
I remember vividly when the change from kid to something else happened for me. I still played with dolls while my friends had already moved on, and at ten years old, I was about to start setting up some game of some sort, when I suddenly thought to myself I can't be bothered. And that was the beginning of the end of my childhood.
Sure there were probably extenuating circumstances around the shift - but the day, the time and the feeling are imbedded in mind mine so clearly that it felt as if someone had switched a button on (or off).
It is going to happen. I know Milla will grow up, get annoyed with me (hate me, be embarrassed by me) and start moving away from childish things, but there is so much of me as a parent that wants to stop that from happening. One of the ways I can stop that happening is by providing the sort of clothing that is youthful, but not prissy, functional but not ugly. It is one of the many facets of this journey that I will be talking about over the coming months as I learn more and more about myself and my business, and take you on that roller coaster ride with me.