I launched my brand, Emi Jewellery back in 2009. For me, to create an ethical fashion brand was always at the forefront of my mind. Almost 10 years ago, the focus of my business was on workers rights and how we are treated as human beings. It was obvious to me that I had to create a honest & transparent brand. I needed to know all steps in my a critical path and I needed to know WHO it was that was making my products.
On the 24th April 2013 - 1138 people were killed and many more injured when the Rana Plaza collapsed in Bangladesh. A year later, Fashion Revolution was created and #whomademyclothes began to trend online. Each year, this date is marked in a week long campaign for raising awareness about the factories companies use (23-29th April) and sets as a reminder that we must have transparency in our businesses and be open and honest about the work we do.
In the fall of 2015, when I first started to supply Freemans.com with my Ruby Rocks collection, I sent my Chinese agent, Juan Juan back to the factory to document the process of how our jewellery is made and to bring light on the small team of people that we work with in China who make both Ruby Rocks & Emi Jewellery for my company.
Some of my favourite images are as below. I love the first image where you can see exactly how it is that this necklace is made and how it looked on the website, for sale to the public. As you can see, each stone is set by hand, and the amount of work that goes into just making 1 of these collars is enormous. It makes you question at times how something so intricate can cost so little? I like to think that the prices that I sell my jewellery & accessories for, across the board are fair for all.
I pay the factory workers a fair price and I pay my employees a fair wage. (there will be more to come on this in future posts)
From start to finish - this is how this necklace is made
Packing & bagging of the jewellery
Intricate stone setting
To read the full interview with Lookagain & to see more pictures of what Juan Juan saw, you can visit the original blogpost here.
I have lead a plant based lifestyle since I was 14/15 years old (In April, I will be 31!). Originally I became vegetarian cutting out meat & fish from my diet. When I used to eat meat, about an hour or so later, I would become really bloated, lethargic ...that sort of thing. I worked with a doctor to try and understand what was causing me to become so bloated, and slowly we realised that it was the diet I was eating. Meat was actually making me ill. When we discovered this, I cut out both meat & fish from my diet and almost instantly, I started to feel a lot better. The bloating subsided and I was able to eat normally for the first time in my life.
As I have grown older, I tend to lean more towards a vegan diet. I wouldn't class myself as vegan, but I'm near enough there. My partner doesn't like cheese, so it makes cooking easy in our household. We don't buy cheese, and as for milk, I stopped drinking cow milk almost a year ago now.
The more that I learnt about the dairy industry, the more it didn't sit right with me. Stopping drinking cow milk and switching to alternatives was a pretty easy decision for me to make.
I was never interested in working with leather, I don't wear it and I don't own anything in leather either. This was the same for suede. I couldn't grasp not eating meat and then using it in my work. It didn't seem right so I never considered it as a material to use. Not that animals are materials, but you know what I mean.
I will admit it, I was ignorant to the fact of how feathers were "collected". I didn't think about sourcing them and really, where they came from. HOW were they obtained? For me, the animal was still alive, so that was OK. It wasn't.
It's been an interesting road of growth and discovery which has lead me to where I am today with my company...so it brings me great pleasure to say that PETa have recognised my hard work and have approved my company (Xander Kostroma Fashion Ltd) as a vegan organisation! The first brand to get signed off to use their artwork is of course my first love, Emi Jewellery.
A few years ago I switched from using real feathers to synthetic which really, was the last tie that I had to using any animal products when creating my collections. So, when I had the opportunity to become Vegan Approved by PETa I jumped at it!
March 8th I published a photo on Instagram showing that I had signed the paperwork and yesterday, we got the final OK. So, here we are. Voila! We are vegan recognised brand, and I am smiling from ear to ear.
Generally speaking, I am just trying to be as environmentally friendly as much as I can, whilst minimising the impact that my work has on the environment around us. We only have the 1 planet and we need to love, show respect to Mother Nature and all beings with kindness. Animal or human.
Thanks for taking to the time to read a bit about me and the company. If you're interested in seeing my collections, just had on over to the website for more info!