A couple of weeks ago I decided I did not want to write about how I live my life anymore, I did not want to provide lists of better things to buy and better habits to create. Moreover, I decided I want to inspire others for change. I want to give a platform and voice to all of the beautiful brands, organisations, and individuals to share their stories and actions.
Today, I am so overjoyed to share my first interview with the founder and owner of Etta Collective. Holly T. single handedly creates beautiful and unique made-to-order jewellery pieces of 14k gold that are made to last. In the following interview she talks about her inspiration, the ethical relationship to her brand and the industry as well as how she managed to build a brand with almost 20k Instagram followers in less than a year.
We hope you enjoy!
Marie: If your brand was a person, describe her/him in three words.
Holly: Timeless, delicate, chic. Etta Collective is the perfect mix of classic jewels, especially our vintage and modern pieces which will last the ages. If Etta Collective was a person, she would be graceful and fully herself, not following the trends yet always looking fashionable. The word Etta is taken from a French name meaning a strong woman, a woman who rules her household, and I like to think Etta Collective fits perfectly into that.
Marie: If you could travel to any time or place (past, present, future) which three would you choose and why?
Holly: Personally I love the past, I am especially fascinated by ancient time periods such as the Palaeolithic period, sounds strange I know! I love watching and reading on this time period, it fascinates me! A time just coming out of the Ice Age where humans were becoming what we are today. A time where we lived so perfectly intertwined with nature and lived off the land. A time where they had begun to make jewellery, even beads. So I like to think if I was back then I would be doing a really similar job to what I do now.
Marie: Is there a brand or a person you look up to ? Why?
Holly: So many people give me inspiration, I love Christi Tyler (@nycbambi) and more recently I have been loving @lenaherrrmann. I love their minimalist style which always looks so classic and out together and yet easy to wear day to day. For brands I really love Wolf Circus and Young Frank. Their jewellery is so unique and I have bought from both of them.
Marie: A day at the beach or a day at an exhibition?
Holly: A day at the beach definitely! I have always been drawn to the sea, when I was younger I used to think I could control it with my mind haha! Swimmings also the only sport I am good at. I don’t tan at all and I am very conscious of ageing my skin by lounging in the sun, so you can always find me reading a book in the shade, and probably taking photos for Etta Collective.
Marie: What are your thoughts on the relationship of sustainable fashion and trends.
Holly: Personally I think sustainable fashion and trends don’t really work together. Trends at the moment are really about fast fashion, like what Kim is wearing at the moment and then the next week everyone is wearing it before it becomes old. Sustainable fashion isn’t that fast paced. It takes time to make things with care and attention to not only the clothes, but the environment too.
Sustainable fashion can work with trends though, but maybe not as closely linked. It is more about buying a piece which can be worn time and time again, and so fits into so many different trends. Such as buying a sustainable made and sold classic white shirt would fit into many of the trends which are going around at the moment and most likely many that will be in the future. It's all just about buying mindfully and thinking about what you buy and if you are buying it because you want it, or just for the trend. I live by the saying ‘If you don’t need it, it's not a good deal’.
“It is more about buying a piece which can be worn time and time again, and so fits into so many different trends.”
Marie: Who do you believe is responsible for change in the industry? Consumers, brands, lawmakers etc.?
Holly: I think overall it is the industry that needs to change. I sometimes feel the media pins this fast fashion, polluting crisis on the public when in the bigger picture we aren’t doing half as much to harm the planet as the huge manufacturing industry are. Take the plastic straw trend that went round a bit ago, plastic straws make up about 4% of all plastic pollution in the oceans. Yet it was made into some massive issue. By not buying plastic straws or refusing them in a restaurant it gave us the feeling we were changing something but in reality this really wasn’t doing anything for the bigger picture.
Now I’m not saying we shouldn’t try, but the best thing we can do is change our diets, recycle and just buy less and more mindfully. Its up to the big cooperations to change how they produce and get rid of their waste if there is going to be any major change in the next few years.
Marie: Would you like to share the story behind your brand with us?
Holly: The story behind Etta Collective is quite a simple one. I loved gold jewellery and had a real passion for it. I have always worked for myself, as I have found I work best this way (I am a bit of an introvert and like doing my own thing). One day in June last year I just started, and learned about jewellery as I was going along. I had already run an independent fashion brand on Instagram which reached over 63k at its most popular. I am also studying Fashion Promotion and Communication at University, so I had some of the expertise of what to do when running an independent online brand.
From that day it launches over 6months ago now, it has organic grown into the brand it is today. I now have my own studio and I may be looking at employing my first ever assistant in the coming months, so it really has turned into something quite special.
Marie: What makes you a sustainable brand?
Holly: From the beginning Etta Collective has been sustainable. Our pieces are slow made by myself and are never bought in bulk. I buy all my supplies locally, minimising postage and travel emissions. Using 14k gold filled and sterling silver means our jewellery should last the same as solid gold, so our pieces should last a life time and minimise the need to repurchase items and so helps tackle fast fashion.
All our packaging made from recycled materials and fully biodegradable.
By cleaning up and reselling vintage items, this means we are reusing items which are already in the system and so precious resources are not being used to create them. Buying items second hand is always more sustainable that buying new.
I like to think all my customers buy from us mindfully, knowing that their purchase helps support independent brands who are not contributing to the pollution of our world.
Marie: How does your brand promote sustainable consumption?
Holly: By creating jewels which are either vintage second hand or 14k gold filled or sterling silver. Our jewels will last a lifetime if cared for correctly. This reduced the need to buy items again, so helping to tackle fast fashion. Buying vintage minimises the need to create new items, so again helping to reduce pollution.
Marie: Who makes your pieces?
Holly: I make all the Etta pieces by hand, each day to order. It takes time and this is what fills up most of my days, but it is worth it so that each jewel us unique to Etta and our customers are getting and item that really was made with love.
Marie: Why did you decide to go for ethical/sustainable fashion ?
Holly: I decided to go into this as it was something I was passionate about in my own life, so I had to bring it into my business. There is also a huge growing in popularity for sustainable brands which is amazing. People are really starting to think about what they purchase and it can only mean better things for the planet.
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