Books in my DNA? Safia Minney, Author

Safia writes:

Books in my DNA? Yes, books kind of run in my blood. My Grandparents ran a book publishing house and book shop in Zurich. They published political books, papers and religious books. My Mother and her sisters studied librarianship. Before the days of computers they were expected to have read every book in the shop and were expected to make recommendations to customers from memory.

I remember as a child spending hours in my Gran’s book shop cellar where specialist titles and stock was kept. Of course, I couldn’t read German so many of the books were closed to me, but there were a few children’s illustrated books which I loved and lots of different sized German/ English dictionaries to dip into.  Books were wrapped with gorgeous wrapping paper as presents and brown paper and string for your own use – there were no plastic bags in sight.

I became, like many happy kids, an avid reader at seven, but then my dad died suddenly of stomach cancer, and the shock burst my childhood bubble.  I was the eldest and I felt I had to help my Mum. I stopped reading and fell behind at school. I started to dream about going out to work and earn money, so I could look after my family. I left school at 17 and oddly started as a production assistant at a publishing company working on a magazine.  I loved co-ordinating the artwork for ads, and learning how a magazine is put together. I wanted to understand how it worked as a business so I studied advertising, communications and PR in the evenings and tried different business ideas to test my skills, renting a desk in a nearby office and starting a gorilla gram company in my lunch hour and around work. I became a pretty good marketeer and associate publisher, but I still didn’t have the confidence to write.

I began to write when I started People Tree in Japan. I would research human rights and environmental issues and write articles in English, and then check the nuance of translations in Japanese with the help of patient friends and colleagues reading in Japanese to me. Having a baby helped me get over two decades of ‘writer’s block’.  With as little as 30 minutes to myself between my son, Jerome’s naps, I just had to stop over-thinking and  ‘get it down’.

My first books, By Hand, Naked Fashion, etc, started as a huge wall-paper like flat-plan taking up half my sitting room, I would take photographs with my friend Miki Alcalde in countries like Bangladesh, Kenya, India.  I would interview people as I travelled at our Fair Trade producers and started doing investigative journalism to find out the true cost of fast fashion. Once I had decided on the structure of the book, I would write page by page, racing rather, as I had two companies to run, as well as my family. My first book, was sari covered and hand typeset by Professor Lal in Kolkata, India and told the stories of Fair Trade activists and artisans, then came By Hand, Naked Fashion, Slow Fashion and Slave to Fashion and an autobiography in between – some in Japanese and all in English.  Even my son wrote a book called; Fair Trade for kids based on his experience of kids working in Indonesia.

Reading List

  4. SLAVE to FASHION – Buy it here

MaineEthics insta-slow-fashion-book

I always say that I will NEVER write another book or take on another book project. But you never know…some stories are just bursting to be told…


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safia minney slave to fashion world book day

Shining a light on modern slavery in the fashion industry – follow Slave to Fashion on instagram, share our book to raise awareness –  – question fashion supply chain practices, talk about this at school, at work…on social media #SlaveToFash and not just on World Book Day…

20 February 2018 is the United Nations’ “World Day of Social Justice”

The theme for 2018 is – Workers on the Move: the Quest for Social Justice.

Safia writes:

I started as a human rights activist, then became an ecologist and then realised that I needed to become a social entrepreneur to prove that business could be done differently. That business could be a cause for rights violations and it could also be a huge power for good.

That farmers and the makers of our clothes, shoes, food and social justice can be central to good business. With Fair Trade, citizens can promote social inclusion and environmental justice and hold large corporations accountable. Today, empower the workers by bringing the “ME TOO”, campaign awareness to include the rights of women who make up the bulk of our fashion work force in the developing world.

When researching for my book, Slave to Fashion, I met with Elizabeth Khumallambam in Gurgaon, near Delhi. She is senior co-ordinator of Nari Shakti Manch, which campaigns and supports women migrant workers whose rights are violated.


‘We organize migrant women in the community and work at a political, economic and social level to address the problems they face,’ Elizabeth tells me. ‘They are exploited as they are totally unaware of their rights.
In the garment industry, they are badly paid and not given regular work. In their communities they are forced to buy groceries at a shop in the building where they rent a room at exorbitant prices. If they try to buy from cheaper shops, they get in trouble.’” read the full interview with Elizabeth Khumallambam, reference page 80-81, Slave to Fashion.

SEEMA’s story:

I am 32 years old and have two sons, aged 14 and 18. I started working in the garment industry seven years ago. I began in leather, cutting threads. When I made a mistake, my line manager stabbed me in the thigh with his pencil until it bled. I slapped him to defend myself, so they fired me. They tore up the paper which showed how many days I had worked and refused to pay me. I got a new job doing other piece-rate work, and now I am working as a tailor.
A lot of problems are due to the line managers: they try to find fault with our work. They told me, ‘If you start a relationship with me, I will overlook your mistakes.’ When I bent down to pick something up, they would make lewd comments:
‘I can see your body parts.’ They offered me money to have sexual relations with them. I feel humiliated, I feel ashamed to be a woman. I have children, I need to work. I wish I didn’t have to come to Delhi, but I have no choice. I work in a small factory now, as I was denied work with larger fashion factories because I publicly reported the harassment and was blacklisted from larger factories. I am in a desperate situation; I don’t have enough to eat; I have a big bill at the food-ration shop in my apartment block and I am obliged to buy provisions from there. Also, my husband left me and married another woman. For the last three months I have been unable to send money home for my sons, 24 hours away by train in Jacar. Why are women not looked at the same way as men? I come out of the house and I want the same status, but I am not treated equally. Don’t say that it is wrong for women to work. I have two children and I cannot pay my bills. I cannot raise my children without a job. Don’t be prejudiced against women, give us equality! I need a job with overtime for 12,000 rupees ($180) a month to survive. Extract Slave to Fashion.

Livia Firth, Creative Director & CEO of Eco-Age shares her message for World Day of Social Justice:

“Sustainable fashion is all about the people in the supply chain – what we call the handprint of fashion, is made by millions of invisible people working all over the world  to produce the clothes that we wear. It is fundamental that they are treated with the same respect as we would treat ourselves and sadly today that is not the case. One only has to read Safia’s book Slave to Fashion to understand that a change is imperative”.

Sven Segal, Founder, Po-Zu:

“I started Po-Zu, the ethical footwear company, because I couldn’t stand seeing people suffering and wanted to be part of the solution, not part of a system built on social injustice”. (read more about ethical footwear at

Social justice is possible when we remove barriers based on gender, race, ethnicity, religion, culture or disability. Find out more here: 

Follow and support and celebrate #SocialJusticeDay on Safia’s social media here


The perfect Valentine’s – how to do it, like you MEAN it

Safia writes:

Let’s go to our favourite jazz venue, feast on organic food, melt away into each other’s eyes, openness and arms and… surrender.

That’s my fantasy but somehow I get stuck every Valentine’s Day on campaigns about sharing the love. I’m not talking about wild orgies here. I’m talking about Fairtrade roses, and ethical, conflict-free jewellery. But does all that ‘stuff’ really matter? Isn’t it about listening, love, acts of real kindness, and each other’s growth?

Needless to say, I become a very difficult person to please… However, people like me are growing in number; people who, even on, and maybe especially on, Valentine’s Day, want authenticity and ethics. Of course, I take no responsibility if my suggestions get you into trouble, or raise the expectations so HIGH that you find them difficult to sustain …

Here are some personal favourites that promote well-being, health and sustainability

  1. There are some very cool lingerie and underwear brands out there for men. They might delight in imagining you imagining them wearing them. Try Mighty Good Pants and Allvar – both great underwear brands for men.
  2. People Tree NightwearIf you’re buying for women, People Tree camisole sets are affordable, have impeccable organic cotton and fair trade quality and credentials, and are extra cute when used to wrap up a bottle of her favourite perfume or a book she would love.
  3. AmaElla-Duchess-organicFor a luxury lingerie experience try AmaElla where the organic panties and camisoles are pretty, feminine, and cut to flatter – with cute details of velvet ribbon and petal packaging. You feel loved. Organic intimates are a way of celebrating her gorgeousness and health.
  4. Po-Zu Red Resistance sneakers for you both? Hand-crafted in Portugal in organic cotton canvas for the active and fun, this ‘matchy-matchy’ look may be a little Japanese in aesthetic, but these sneakers are comfortable and stylish.po-zu_divine

How about adding one of my favourite chocolate brands, Divine? It’s a company owned by the cocoa producers and is good-tasting as well as good-looking. There seems to be a ‘matching’ trend in ethical weddings. If you’re into that form of showing commitment, people are getting wed top-to-toe in ethical fashion. (We love this photograph from Sarah Passos‘ nuptials – Fabulous Po-Zu wedding sneakers shot by Sara Reeve).

Po-Zu wedding sneakers
Fabulous Po-Zu wedding sneakers shot by Sara Reeve

And for those women amongst us not in a traditional relationship, we might want to empower ourselves with something experiential, like the film season Girlfriends about female friendships, at the BFI, Southbank, a selection of films which runs until 20 March. There’s also the classic “Romy And Michelle’s High School Reunion”, screening on 13th February for Galentine’s Day. If you’re not based in London, finding a film on a feminist theme for you and your friends is a fun and truly loving thing to do.

Most of all, be kind. Give warm smiles to strangers in the street if you feel it. And remember that it’s rare that someone is not in need of a little kindness…

I call my partner to ask what he would like for Valentine’s and he asks for an afternoon off, a leisurely lunch followed by a walk in the park. I guess the most precious gift is the gift of time.

And if you buy something new, buy ethically, so that the love and respect spreads to the producer, and the planet isn’t further stripped naked…

Plastic micro-fibre pollution from laundry in tap water

Flo Nolan, ethical fashion lifestyle writer, interviews Safia Minney and discusses plastic micro-fibre pollution in tap water, from laundering clothes.

You spoke at the Fashion SVP seminar “Sustainable Sourcing: Fresh Challenges, New Opportunities” bringing together specialsists to discuss what the fashion industry can do about micro-fibre pollution from clothing wash off.  Why should we care?

Mircro-fibres caught the attention of the public last year with Orb Media’s report that found that over 83% of the worlds drinking water is contaminated by micro-plastics, with one of the major culprits for this contamination being the fashion industry. Our drinking water is now full of plastic fibres, up to 5mm in length, as a direct result of fast fashion’s mass-production of clothes in synthetic materials.

The micro fibres are ingested by fish and filter feeders, like mussels and oysters, and are rapidly becoming part of the food chain.

This contamination happens when synthetic clothing is washed in washing machines and the micro-fibres they are composed of wash off and end up in water treatment plants but are not filtered out.

This contaminated water flows back into the water table systems and our drinking water, our fields, polluting the soil that we rely on for crops. They have polluted our oceans and some argue are as numerous as plankton so naturally they are ingested by fish and filter feeders, like mussels and oysters, and are rapidly becoming part of the food chain.

David Attenborough’s Blue Planet II, brought home the issues that face our oceans and the effect of plastic pollution on it – can we use this media attention and heightened public awareness to change the fashion industry and the way we buy clothing and care for it?

The fashion industry must reduce production in synthetic fibres and fabrics and producing in natural and organic fibres.  As consumers we should buy natural fibres and re-consider the way we buy clothing and shoes.  Buying less and demanding longevity and quality is a good start.  We can also wash the synthetic clothes we own less and when we wash them in a Guppy bag to collect the micro fibres and throw these in the trash.

I hope more consumers will switch to natural fibre and fabric alternatives  –  I’m surprised that people who embrace well-being that choose synthetic yoga wear rather than organic cotton yoga wear despite it being very affordable as well as allowing your skin to breath.

The fashion industry and government needs to be looking at a ban and regulation on the production of synthetics and how to filter water to reduce micro-fibre pollution.  I think there needs to be a ban like the micro-bead ban passed in 2017.  I fear that the vested interests from the fast fashion industry in synthetic fibre, acrylic, polyester, etc; because they are cheap, is just too huge.  We will have to raise awareness and campaign from within the industry, as Patagonia are, alongside ethical fashion pioneers, together with consumers and environmental organisations to push the Government for regulation.

If all else fails, I think we should ask fashion company CEO’s to drink water with micro-fibres in relation to how much synthetic fashion they produce!

So what can fashion brands do to avoid mircro-fibre pollution? How does People Tree and Po-Zu do it differently?

When I founded People Tree 27 years ago, I decided I would try to make clothes using only natural fibres because I didn’t want to use synthetics as they are unbiodegradable. It was on the basis of using fashion as a tool for change.  As a way of producing fibres like organic cotton, hemp, nettle and jute in a way that protects the environment and creating livelihoods for economically marginalised people and artisans in rural areas. The difference between brands such as People Tree and Po-Zu and fast fashion brands is that we think downstream, back into supply chain. We design our clothes and shoes using sustainable materials and avoid using toxic substances in the production process.

We build sustainable supply chains that reflect best practice with relation to people and the environment. Organic and natural fibres that break down in months rather than hundreds of years. People Tree worked to create standards for the farming of organic cotton, and we try to avoid synthetic materials even in our interfacings and accessories.   However it is difficult to eliminate synthetics completely – but as a company we have largely done so.

The dress I’m wearing today is 96% organic cotton with 4% elastane.   Po-Zu shoes uses organic cotton, cork, natural rubber and pineapple leaf fibre in its shoes and all these materials biodegrade quickly in the environment.

There are ways forward and quick wins.  We have a short time to reign in the huge levels of pollution from fast fashion production, these ‘externalities’ are not accounted for in our current economic modelling of fashion production, but they are fast destroying our health and the health of our planet.  We have evidence of the immediate effect of chemicals on people living near water waste and now mounting evidence that plastics can disrupt human hormones levels.

Safia Minney available for speaking engagements worldwide and also for consultancy work. Please contact:

Further reading on the Fairtrade Coalition AGM on Anna Brindle’s blog 

‘Fair Trade’ added to Encyclopedia Britannica

Safia Minney writes: Great to see the new entry in the Encyclopedia Britannica for Fair Trade after over 30 years of what many would argue is the most significant grassroots movement for social justice and sustainability of our time.

Britannica Fair Trade

It has also led to the development of the MDGs (Millennium Development goals) and SDGs (Sustainable development goals) and other new bodies of thinking on New Economics, and standards for ethical business, and a ground swell for ethical consumption, etc. Fair Trade was seen in the 70s as a solution to poverty at a time when people were becoming increasingly disillusioned with ‘charity’, people were calling for ‘Trade not Aid’, (charity being seen as often ineffective, unsustainable, paternalistic and often hampering local economic development initiatives). Fair Trade began to be seen as a way of bringing long-term support through a partnering approach to trade whilst promoting better livelihoods, prices, gender equality, environmental sustainability, local initiatives and self-determination to empower people and create healthy economies. (I’ve seen it close up – it really does reach the parts other trade cannot reach.)Safia Minney Fair Trade
Fair Trade started linking small scale producer groups, but today the principles of Fair Trade now coming to large scale factories and farming practice, which is good on the whole. (Although, I would always prefer earning a living working on a handloom in a village rather than in a large factory).

I very much hope that the Sri Lanka ethical line that we have just developed at Po-Zu will create waves. Not just because they are beautiful sneakers, but also because as Po-Zu orders grow, we will be able to further widen our collections by bringing new natural materials to the factory and work more closely with the community and support the workers in ways that will make the most difference to them.

This is your chance to become a shareholder in Po-Zu, to earn some lovely rewards, like a pair of our first Sri Lanka shoes, and benefit from the growing interest in ethical fashion. Trend forecasters agree that ethical footwear is the next big thing – and this is the chance that doesn’t come along often. We hope that you’ll join our remarkable, committed and talented team at Po-Zu.

(Safia Minney received an MBE for her services to Fair Trade and Fashion in 2009. She is founder and built People Tree as Global CEO for 24 years. She is now Managing Director at Po-Zu. Watch this space).

Read the listing

Safia Minney available for speaking engagements worldwide and also for consultancy work. Please contact:

Creating a Fashion Revolution

Some lovely people recognise me as the pioneer of sustainable fashion, they even stop me to chat on the tube in Tokyo or London.

I started my journey 27 years ago in Japan where I created People Tree the world’s leading Fair Trade and sustainable brand, indeed, creating a fashion revolution.

I built supply chains from scratch to benefit cotton farmers with regular orders and paid them organic and fairtrade premiums before the standards existed and then I helped to build these standards, including those for Fair Trade manufacture, with World Fair Trade Organisation – for the making of clothes, foods and other products.

For me it has always been about creating beautiful and desirable products – after all in Japan there was very little awareness of environmental issues and worker exploitation over two decades ago – if it wasn’t well-designed and of good quality, it wasn’t going to sell. I think cutting my teeth in Japan and working closely in collaboration with my artisans and fair trade groups and customers and buyers helped me build a success business.

With a background in advertising, publishing and media, I couldn’t believe the resources used to sell stuff that doesn’t make people happy and healthy, In fact most of the time it does the opposite.

When in the early 1990s I read about the exploitation in sportswear and denim factories it made my blood boil. We were tacitly holding up this exploitative system by buying these products. I realised that poor people give up control and how power is used to further impoverish them.

In 1995 we opened our first shop in Tokyo, probably the first eco-concept store, with lots of experiential opportunities for customers, they could drink fair trade coffee, browse a library of eco books, hear lectures from local environmentalists and producers would visit from India, Bangladesh, Kenya and all over… we had a handloom at the front of the store, ran fashion shows, hunger banquets and jewellery making classes.

In 2000 I brought People Tree to London with the help of my former boss at Marketing Week. We started to build traction when Wayne Hemingway featured People Tree on Breakfast television, and Sienna Miller wore People Tree for a fashion feature with The Telegraph. But these were the very early days of ethical fashion.

Safia and Zandra RhodesI was delighted as the business grew. We had 800 stores selling People Tree. I would run press trips with opinion leaders, journalists, celebrities and designers like Emma Watson, Zandra Rhodes, Laura Bailey etc. to meet the farmers and artisans in the villages where we work. We were proving another way of doing business works at the same time we were building a new sector, ethical fashion, and setting a new agenda for the fashion industry and we were working closely with civil society grassroots organisations too, to understand the challenges faced by the people that make our fashion industry so profitable.

We brought their stories and showed how it could be done differently through TV documentaries and news programmes with many Japanese producers and in fashion and womens magazines internationally.

In 2013, ‘True Cost’ Director, Andrew Morgan approached me following the Rana Plaza building collapse. We started a long journey together with Livia Firth, Lucy Siegle and many other great friends in the sustainable fashion movement.

Re-designing a more sustainable fashion industry

the-true-costThe True Cost movie was watched by over 10 million people thanks to a lot of hard work, support and collaboration. There were dozens of red carpet screenings around the world, attended by fashion people from Vogue’s Anna Wintour, Tom Ford, and many other high profile luxury designers; it was shown in Fashion companies and Fashion colleges, and the public realised that the slow food approach had come to fashion.

Also, Fashion Revolution, with over 100 country offices has spread new thinking about fashion, and the workers behind it and our home – our planet. We have made a unique turning point. Transparency and ethics have become a lead product attribute, and in a crowded market people are asking about the people behind the product, about animal rights and the impact on the environment and checking the companies are really walking their talk.

I’m delighted that I can help Po-Zu develop an ethical shoe line in Sri Lanka. It’s great to learn about a new product area, however the sustainable materials are the same and so largely are the customers who frankly just want a pair of cool shoes to complete their ethical look. Hopefully with Po-Zu founder (pictured far left) Sven Segal’s incredible design eye we can create the ethical statement shoe – the most beautiful part of an outfit – whilst making feet, the foundation of well being, the happiest that they can be.

We have great plans for Po-Zu to make it THE go to ETHICAL FOOTWEAR brand. WE know how to do it. We hope you’ll want to be part of it and that you will join us on CrowdCube and become a shareholder.

Click here to invest

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Safia Minney, Fairtrade guest speaker at Oxford University’s Wadham College

Join us in Oxford for an inspiring evening

Safia Minney MBE is delighted to announce that she will be guest speaker at Oxford University’s Wadham College for the Oxford Fairtrade Coalition AGM Monday 29 January 2018 6.30pm – 9pm. (share this via twitter here)

Safia will be talking about her experiences of founding a Fair Trade Fashion Company People Tree, author of several books including Slow Fashion and more recently Slave to Fashion, and her current role as Managing Director of an ethical shoe company Po-Zu.


She will be sharing the challenges she faces as she balances Fair Trade and sustainability principles with commercial reality. Book your free place here via eventbrite.

Why are Fair and Ethical Trade so important in today’s world? What does the future hold for Fair Traders? How do we encourage more people to commit to Fair Trade and change their behaviour as consumers?

Join us as guests of the OXFORD FAIR TRADE COALITION AGM

29 January 2018 . 6.30pm – 9pm
Wadham College
Okinaga Room
Parks Road
Free event
All welcome
Disabled access at venue
Book your free place here:

About Safia:

Safia Minney MBE, FRSA is Managing Director of award winning ethical shoe brand Po-Zu and Founder and Director of People Tree, the pioneering Fair Trade and sustainable fashion and lifestyle brand.

She developed the first organic and Fair Trade clothing supply chain and is recognised by the World Economic Forum as an Outstanding Social Entrepreneur.

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Oxford became a Fair Trade City in 2004. This means that the Fairtrade Foundation was satisfied that it had achieved the five criteria required to qualify as a Fairtrade Town (or City).

A local Fairtrade steering group is convened to ensure the Fairtrade Town campaign continues to develop and gain new support.

Reflecting on 2017

Thank you for all your support last year!

CS Lewis Quote Jan-18

2017 was a tough year for many…

A year that many of us felt a shift…

A year when many of us felt that through the transition good things could come…in the words of C.S.Lewis:

“You can’t go back and change the beginning, but you can start where you are and change the ending.”

Slave to Fashion book launch

April 2017, thanks to many of you, saw the launch of my 8th book, Slave to Fashion, on the subject of modern slavery within fashion supply chains, and published by those talented people at New Internationalist.

To find out more about it please read my blog and hear what contributors and reviewers have to say about it. The book has been read by fashion bloggers, industry buyers and ethical consumers alike and was also launched in the US also in Summer 2017.

We still have a VERY long way to go to eradicate modern day slavery and exploitation, partly because it is a systemic problem. Whilst we seem to have made positive progress in 2017, thanks to the great work of professional and government organisations, and indeed us ‘active citizens’ – it feels as if we are only beginning to scratch the surface.

I do find it heartening that finally we are discussing our dysfunctional, bankrupt economic system and how it is failing not only the underprivileged, but the middle and professional classes; the environment, and undermining the chance for peace and democracy.

If ever collaboration, good leadership, education, the enforcement of our international Declarations and Laws were needed, it is NOW.

January 2017, whilst continuing to work on the Board with People Tree (the company I founded in Japan 27 years ago), I joined Po-Zu, the ethical shoe brand, as a consultant and MD.

It has been a hugely interesting and busy journey helping to make the Star Wars / LucasFilm collaboration a success. Setting up an ethical supply chain in Sri Lanka, and working on sales and marketing, operations and the collections to make Po-Zu THE go-to ethical footwear brand.

Po-Zu Crowdcube Sven Segal, Founder and CEO & Safia Minney, Managing Director from Sven Segal on Vimeo.

And of course, for me, during 2017 it has been a pleasure to be part of the global social enterprise community, working internationally with some of the leading universities, companies and networks to mainstream a new thinking about ethical business practice and sustainable living.

A huge thank you to you all – and hoping that 2018 is the happiest and most fulfilling year yet for you 🙂

UPDATE: Safia is honoured to be guest speaker at two events in January 2018

1) FASHIONSVP Tuesday 16 January at Olympia London – Register Now to ensure your place

11.00 – 11.40: “Sustainable sourcing: fresh challenges, new opportunities”
How sustainable production can be a competitive advantage for your business
Getting buy-in on a sustainable business model from your directors and your team
Tamsin Lejeune, CEO, Ethical Fashion Group and CO moderating the discussion and debate with Safia Minney MBE, Co-founder, People Tree, Oya Barlas Bingül, Development Manager, Lenzing Group, Eric Roosen, CEO, StarSock – Healthy Seas Initiative, Senior speaker invited from Patagonia Europe

2) OXFORD UNIVERSITY Monday 29 January 2018 6.30pm – 9pm Wadham College for the Oxford Fairtrade Coalition AGM Monday . FULL DETAILS HERE: Ethical Agenda Blog Post

Safia Minney available for speaking engagements worldwide and also for consultancy work. Please contact:

Resolutions for 2018

Safia writes: When asked to share advice and suggestions for a ‘New Year’s Resolution’ – I’m keeping it simple – so 2018’s resolution plan for us all should cover HEALTH, Conscious consuming and SLOW LIVING.

CONSUME Consciously

I am tired with being part of a bankrupt economic system that doesn’t reflect the true cost of our natural environment and the rights of people and animals.

As ‘standard’ I only buy from ethical pioneers. It’s easier for larger companies or second generation businesses to follow once the market has been developed and the best practice set for supply chain and the business case proven. But the ethical pioneers are nimble and continue to innovate and set the agenda – and for that they need our support and greater access to funding for R&D and investment on more ethical terms to expand their distribution and scale operations.

I expect regular consumers in the fast fashion stores will switch and buy from their “Conscious collections”, but I feel the ethical consumer’s role is to keep redefining and pushing for better and more sustainable products and solutions – and some of these can only be brought about by passionate and agile social entrepreneurs.
I’d urge people to support pioneer social enterprises like People Tree, Po-Zu, Riverford organics, Ecotricity and buy from local initiatives too – also charity shops and local organic farms.

logo labourbehindthelabelWe can also effect great change beyond ethical consumption by joining campaigning groups like: Labour Behind the Label, Greenpeace, Fashion Revolution and learn from key influencers in this arena on twitter and instagram – join me on twitter (Safia Minney here) and you will find loads of information and links to sustainability news that inspire and are full of useful ways to be part of the solution. Share this information through your social media. The space is changing fast and we play a vital role in amplifying and forming it.

I think the financial system needs a huge overhaul too. Ethical investment is taking off as we decide we want to use our money to disrupt the system and promote social justice and sustainability. Many people are deciding either NOT to buy more ‘stuff’ but to invest ethically or only too buy stuff that is ethically made.

Join Triodos Bank, Shared Interest and seek out ethical investments like Po-Zu on CrowdCube and be part of the Shoe Revolution and help the ethical footwear brand go global. CROWDCUBE PO-ZU.

The principals of Fair Trade, (working in partnership and towards paying a living wage and promoting social justice) is a concern I increasingly feel at ‘home’ in the UK. Whether it’s underpaid workers in those chemically toxic nail bars or what seems to be a growing shadow economy. On resolution, after having down-loaded the Uber app after years of boycotting them ( I used my local taxi company who felt like part of my extended family until I recently moved to a new end of town) is to use their new “tip” function to add an extra few ££s tip as the drivers tell me that this goes to them and it’s a small way to bring their low wages up. Although far from ideal. Of course Uber should pay them decently and Uber should take less commission as at 25% commission, this means that drivers struggle to make ends meet.


Do you ever fancy a ‘duvet day’? {yes, even Managing Directors have slow days } – I skip into my “out-door slippers” Po-Zu warm and comfy boots which makes the transition between bed and office less brutal in winter.

I’ll be adding pumping weights to my yoga routines and hoping that this will keep my energy levels up!


logo renttherunwayDon’t buy new stuff unless you have to – and if you do please buy ethically or rent it. See rent the runway.

Mend your clothes and be proud of the repair.  Swap ’til you drop and don’t be afraid to fix things with Sugru glue and upcycle those old dining room chairs.

Get crafty – Make a mobile with the shells that you collected on the beach in Summer for someone special, pass on stuff that you don’t need and other people can use. There’s so many great ways of doing this and you make great new friends too and strengthen your community and network.

Make and take in your own lunches, or look out for Food Waste champions such as OLIO and TooGoodToGo. These are free apps connecting neighbourhoods and local cafes so surplus food can be shared.

logo greenpeaceInvest in a reusable bottle – 16 million plastic bottles are thrown away every day in the UK. Many of them end up in our oceans – killing marine life and threatening fragile ecosystems. We need to take action to stem the flow of plastic into our oceans. Greenpeace have a petition here to show your support for deposit return schemes across the UK.

Here’s to a happy, healthy and conscious 2018. Hope to meet you one day.

Find Safia on twitter here and SlavetoFash
Find Safia on instagram and SlavetoFash here.

Guest Post – Slowing Down, A Woodland Gathering

🍂Slowing Down🍂

Guest post from Laurie, A Woodland Gathering:

Laurie writes: After years of living in constant fear in a fast-paced world I became consumed by anxiety and OCD. Slowing down my pace of life and being mindful of the world around me has massively helped in my journey to getting better.

awoodlandgathering flowersAt the peak of my illness, I lost my job, I became unable to socialise and was housebound almost completely. Determined not to give up for the sake of my family and myself I turned to my creativity and started selling some of my handmade clothing and dolls on Etsy.

Having already had an interest in the slow fashion movement and following on from a pledge I’d taken to myself three years earlier ‘not to buy from fast fashion brands‘. I decided to turn my hobbies into a small business making linen (Oeko-Tex certified) clothing exclusively to order.

I wanted to provide versatile products that can be dressed up or down and can be used in a capsule wardrobe. I chose linen for many reasons, one, because of its natural beauty, two, it ages very well and is a tough material that can withstand the test of time, to name a few. To try to eliminate the amount of waste fabric, I create dolls from the clothing scraps. (Which is how I came to be writing this guest post. One of my dolls was featured on DollMakers instagram feed – inspired by Safia Minney – I created a doll in her likeness for International Women’s Day – see below.)

I feel my mental health has improved tremendously since starting this business.
I have a lot still to learn and hopefully a long way still to go but I am enjoying the ‘slow’ journey. I hope to always maintain an ethical and responsible standpoint with my business.

If you are reading this, and you’ve not yet read Slave to Fashion – go now and buy a copy, it’s a fascinating read. I’m going to find it so helpful… being in the early stages of my brand I want to ensure that every decision I make is thoughtful and responsible. I’m sure I will use this as a business bible for years to come. Such an important issue that consumers need to stop ignoring.

Laurie, A Woodland Gathering.

Safia Minney made by @awoodlandgathering (before @woodlandsisterdolls) for the Women’s Day project: #beboldmakedolls • “I chose to create a doll inspired by @safia_minney who is the founder of @peopletreeuk the pioneering fair trade and sustainable fashion brand. She developed the first organic and fair trade clothing supply chain and is recognised by the @worldeconomicforum as an outstanding social entrepreneur. She initiated World Fair Trade Day and Rag Rage and is a founder member of the @ethicalfashionforum @fash_rev and @strawberryearth which promotes eco design. • Safia’s pioneering work over 25 years had brought sustainable livelihoods and social welfare to over 5000 economically marginalised farmers, artisans and tailors in the developing world. If you have Netflix and are interested in learning more about the damage that fast fashion is having on our environment and fellow citizens of the world you should watch the documentary ‘The True Cost’.”

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