It’s never been so fashionable to be eco friendly; whether you drive an electric car, shop at zero waste stores or have taken the leap to a plant based diet, there are a million and one ways you can help the planet. Until recently however, no one gave much thought to how our fashion choices could impact the environment.
Over in Melbourne, sister duo Sally and Bec Prickett have launched Colour Coded in an effort to bring something different to the eco fashion market. I caught up with Sally, the creative mind behind the new venture to chat about the career change, working with your sister and what plans they have for 2019.
When I think about eco friendly fashion, I think comfy, capsule wardrobe pieces made from earthly coloured fabrics. I don’t instantly imagine bold colours or eccentric patterns but Colour Coded seeks to change that. “The majority of ethical and sustainable fashion labels in Australia have very plain and pastel palettes or only fit the boho market. We found that there seemed to be a gap in the market for what we were looking for; flattering looser fitting cuts, bright colours, fun prints and natural fibre fabrics”.
They both love being outdoors, exploring and looking after the environment. Sally and Bec wanted to develop a clothing line that not only looked and felt good but made minimal impact on the planet. Each item is designed by Sally and made in Melbourne by a manufacturer that provides a safe working environment, fair pay and legal entitlements. All their fabrics are digitally printed as it uses less water and wastes less ink than screen printing and even their packaging is compostable.
Using cotton and line to manufacture clothes means that should they eventually end up in landfill, they’ll break down in a little over two years and cause little harm to the environment. Man made fibres on the other hands can take more than 200 years to break down and will be decomposing long after you are. By producing small runs of each garment, Sal and Bec ensure they don’t end up with more than they can sell, “we want people to buy thoughtfully and buy less”.
Sally and Bec aren’t just sisters but twins and couldn’t look more different; Sal has brown hair and browns eyes whilst Bec has blonde hair and blue eyes, “colour – coded” their Mum would say. “We wanted the name to represent the essence of our brand, being colourful clothes but also us as well. That, and the fact that it was the only name we could agree on!”
Starting an eco fashion brand hasn’t always the plan for Sally and Bec, “I think the drive to start our own label also came partly from our continued struggle to find bright and bold garments with flattering cuts for us… the eco part came later.” For Sally who was an environmental and outdoors teacher and Bec who studied environmental sciences, looking after the planet has always been second nature. “We decided that we had to minimise our impact in whatever way we could. That’s when we started to research fabrics, printing methods and packaging.
One of the biggest hurdles Sally and Bec have faced so far has been finding natural fabrics that are hard wearing, comfy and easily printed on. “We had an issue with one of our fabrics, the dye was fading in patches after the wash, I was so upset as it was likely my design had too much solid background. It all came down to us not understanding the digital printing process and not being more vigilant in our testing”. A costly mistake but not one Sally and Bec let stop them on their quest for a first collection. As Sally puts it “In this moment you have a choice, you can be hurt and let it damage you and bring you down, or you can acknowledge the mistake, solve the immediate issue and work on improving the processes for the future. It does not bear well to dwell on such things, mistakes are part of life and it is how we learn. We must keep moving forward!”
Sally and Bec aren’t the only ones who’ve faced these challenges. Dotted over all over Melbourne are fashion start -ups just like Colour Coded who are helping each other through the highs and lows of owning your own business. “We connected with some other fashion startups just like us and collectively created a network catch up where we can support each other in our struggles and celebrate our triumphs. We help each other along the way by sharing tips and tricks, connections to fabric agents, manufacturers and pattern makers. It has been invaluable to us and we are so lucky to have such a strong group of women supporting this adventure.”
For Sally and Bec, Colour Coded started out of a need for more statement pieces made from natural fibres and has blossomed into a stand out eco brand that has settled seamlessly into the Melbourne fashion scene. “I’m really lucky to be doing this with Bec, we have a great balance of creative and business minds and keep each other motivated and moving forward.”
They take it in turn to have freak outs, they’ve agreed to never freak out at the same time and most drama ends in laughter (hopefully not crying laughter Sally jokes.) Considering neither one of them comes from a fashion background, they have succeeded in producing a striking first collection that I would be proud to have in my wardrobe and they should be proud to have created.
2019 is set to be an exciting year for Sally and Bec with plans to release their second collection, find a creative space to share with other labels in their start-up group and open a pop up shop. For anyone who’s ever considered starting an eco business, now is the time. Sally’s advice…“Go for it!”. It’ll be hard, there’ll be days where you hate it and day’s you’ll think you made the best decision ever. But no matter what you’ll never know until you try, you soon could be your very own girl boss. Yes ladies!