As part of our founder interview series, we speak with Elizabeth from Eliza Eliza about the inspiration behind her designs, and how they help create a positive impact for causes close to her heart.
What were you doing before you launched Eliza Eliza? What inspired you to start the brand?
I used to be a Secondary School Geography Teacher, but after I had my first child in 2012, I never went back. Stepping away from teaching made me realise that it wasn’t something that fully motivated me and I wanted to continue. During my maternity leave, I’d made a small clutch for myself and used it so much that people started to ask if I’d make one for them too. I began researching for linen to buy, as I loved the look and texture of the fabric, and it was then I stumbled across the British woven hemp that I still use today.
Eliza Eliza is unique in that you can #carryyourcause. What is this, and where did the idea come from?
I really love the business models of brands such as TOMs and Selfish Mother, the idea that a business could not just raise money but also awareness for a particular issue completely resonates with me. It was when I got the idea of producing a bag lined with vulvas to create awareness for the 5 Gynaecological Cancers in partnership with The Eve Appeal, that the concept of creating a specific bag lining explicitly to start conversations really developed. We all want to support our favourite causes, and usually the excuse to talk about it, what better ice breaker than a physical object, such as a bag that we carry around.
Eliza Eliza partners with CoppaFeel, Unseen, The Eve Appeal and WWF. How did you choose to partner with these organisations in particular?
Selfishly I choose charities and causes that I care for and hope that my passion to share their stories ripples out to others.
Which is your favourite item of your collection and why?
That’s like choosing my favourite child!! Each collection has grown and blossomed in different ways over time. I’m really proud of the V Collection and how it has broken barriers and started conversations about gynaecological cancer that I couldn’t have imagined. It has even been shared by the likes of Gillian Anderson!
Where do you get the inspiration for all of the fun patterns and designs on the inside of your collection?
If I’ve found a charity that I wish to work for then I can spend hours researching artist’s designs from all over the World. Then it’s just a matter of contacting them to ask their permission to use their artwork. I’ve been so fortunate that the majority have always been keen to help support the various causes enough to work with me on a particular collection. Alternatively, I have seen an artist’s work I really love and we have worked together to produce a collection, finding a charity that fits in well with the collection cause.
Hemp often gets a bad reputation – why do you love it?
As a textile, hemp is incredibly strong and durable and although it softens over time, keeps these qualities for much longer than many other natural materials. Hemp has excellent antibacterial and antifungal characteristics, making it highly resistant to rotting and means than my bags are fantastic for taking to wet environments such as the beach! Hemp IS NOT going to get you high if you smoke it! It does come from the same plant genus (Cannabis Sativa) as marijuana, but is a very different variety and has a much lower tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) level to the psychoactive drug.
‘Ethical Fashion’ can be a bit of a buzzword. What does ‘ethical fashion’ mean to you?
Being more conscious about where our clothes and accessories come from. To me ‘Ethical Fashion’ relates more directly to the human side of how and by whom our products were made.
What do you look for in other brands that you support?
I like brands that have a clear ethical vision and aren’t afraid to answer questions about their supply chains, if they haven’t already been transparent enough through their website or marketing efforts.
Raising children and staying committed to sustainability can be very difficult. What advise would you give to sustainably-minded mums?
Stop feeling guilty if you can’t do everything! Like any area of your life that you want to be more sustainable, take it one step at a time. Buying sustainably conscious clothes and toys for children doesn’t always mean buying new organic/wooden etc products either. There are loads of local selling sites/kids markets these days to buy good quality items, often things that are almost new or hardly been used too.
How would you like to see Eliza Eliza grow in the future?
I would really love to work more closely with my partner charities and artists to create collections that really help break those barriers down, start those conversations and generate the awareness for the causes we care about.