‘We have a responsibility to our customers’

Setting up strict guidelines around materials and circularity can stop brands from straying from their sustainability goals. Resale platform founder Hailea Crichton advises taking the time to create a framework around sourcing.
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Hailea Crichton started her vintage resale platform Dirty Disco in 2014 with sustainability top of mind. Running the business made her realize that there was an opportunity to create a clothing brand using everything she had learned about the buying habits of consumers of sustainable fashion and the lasting quality of the vintage pieces that she was sourcing. So, in July 2021, she launched Deidei, a line of sustainably made womenswear. 

She selected silhouettes that customers frequently bought on Dirty Disco, such as a button-through A-line dress and a printed blouse, and incorporated adjustable elements, such as ties, that can change the shape and size of the garment over time. Along with selling its own line of clothing, Deidei will operate as a platform that provides tips on how to restore and repair clothing to make it last longer – its first blog post explained how to sew on a button. 

Here are Hailea's top tips for diversifying sustainably.

1. Research, research, research 

‘If you're just starting out and aren't sure about sustainability, start with research. I spent three years researching which fabrics, accessories and packaging would be the most sustainable. When you're starting out, you might not meet the minimum order requirements of your preferred factories, so work out which decisions are the most important and then work backwards.’ 

2. Set firm ground rules 

‘We have a set list of preferred fabrics, as well as certain items we won't use unless they can be easily repaired. Our focus is on circularity so, even in the design stage, we're creating repairable and biodegradable garments.’ 

3. Create a framework 

‘No matter how much I love a design or a fabric, if it doesn't meet the standards of the Deidei framework, I just don't make it. I try to avoid using zips, elastic or other finishes that make recycling complicated. We have a responsibility to our customers, who trust us to make the most sustainable choice, and I just don't want to let them down.’

For our ‘25 big lessons from small business’ series, we scoured the world to find inspiring people to share the lessons they've learned from running their own companies. Click here to read the other stories.

This special feature was first published in Courier issue 45, February/March 2022. To purchase the issue or become a subscriber, head to our webshop.

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