Small businesses with sustainable goals

In the following series we will introduce you to small entrepreneurs, who fought hard to take their business in a sustainable direction. We will share the visions, ideas and the struggles they faced when going against an industry of fast consumerism.

Part 1 : RAHA Clothing

Eisha Saleh is the founder and director of RAHA Clothing.  Eisha started this fashion business in 2008 with a business partner under the name Baraka Women, but today Eisha is managing the business from end to end by her self, – all the way from design and concept through to clothing production, sales and marketing and is the designer/director of the business. 

Its part of my responsibility to look after the planet with my work and so I had to change

A lot of thoughts and concerns made Eisha make a decision to re-brand her business and have just launched the new RAHA Clothing:

”After my business partner left the business in 2013 I hadn’t really been responsible for the clothing production side of the business.  I had to learn that quickly and I researched a lot during that first collection on my own.  As part of the learning curve came the reality of how clothes are made, the conditions of factories and hours they worked etc.  I didn’t understand fabric composition and production either, so as I researched what kind of fabrics I wanted to use and how each fibre performs I learnt a lot about environmental damage, chemicals, dyes, non renewable resources, biodegradability of fabric and even how people made fabrics and their conditions” 

After 5 years I was overwhelmed with the dirty industry and retreated into my religion for some relief.  I found a Hadith of the Prophet sallalahu alaihi wa sallam “Do not waste water, even if you are by a running stream”.  This affected me profoundly as it was all the environmental encouragement I needed. 

Finding suitable fabrics and suppliers was not an easy task for Eisha: ”The Australian industry is extremely small and expensive so I had to search for a long time to find what I was looking for.  I didn’t want to lose all my customers so pricing couldn’t shoot up way past peoples affordability but at the same time money is usually the reason people cut corners with the environment or taking care of their workers.  I kept searching and asking everyone I knew.  You have to think outside the box sometimes.  I finally found a social enterprise that sells up-cycled fabric rolls from old fashion houses and profits go to the disabled workers they support.  This was a great fit for a small business like mine.  I also joined many groups online that share resources and tips to improve sustainability”

When I asked Eisha on advice to entrepreneurs following their dream and pursuing something they love while being sustainable her reply was:

”It definitely seems harder before you start. And when you finally get started and its business as usual you realise it wasn’t as hard as you imagined.  Its just a change of habit to be sustainable, but it too in time will become a habit.  It is more expensive at the outset and taking the cheaper option is very tempting when you have invoices to pay.  But stick with it, as giving a healthy planet to our kids is worth it and the longer you do it, the more affordable it gets”

Eisha’s advice towards a more sustainable daily life is to start small and to be consistent:

“For example take reusable plates to your next picnic instead of disposables.  Keep this up until its easy for you and doesn’t feel overwhelming.  Once you feel good about that change, add a new goal.  Take your time, don’t rush with it and feel good about all the little things you achieve, we have enough stress in our lives.  Another one to try is every time you finish a product at home replace it with something greener.  And join some social groups that can help you with ideas or sticking to goals”

During the next 10 years Eisha is aiming to make RAHA Clothing into a complete closed loop fashion business, using only recycled materials and technologies and developing my own textiles! She also want to teach about sustainability and run programs for new businesses wanting to achieve this kind of accreditation.  These things would make me happy, she says.

You can follow this exciting journey and support RAHA clothing through the Instagram account @rahaclothingau and check out the brand and collection: www.rahaclothing.com.au

This interview was made to you by http://www.anothers-treasure.com – a platform for preloved Modest and Islamic clothing
If your are are small business working towards sustainable goals and would like to share your story, please get in touch: info@anothers-treasure.com

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