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Small Business Story with Sustainable Fashion Brand, KALEA

Updated: Feb 19, 2021

Fashion is an ever-evolving industry that still lacks transparency and is still regarded as one of the vilest industries despite its incredible success. The fashion industry holds second place after the oil and gas industries when it comes to environmental damage. And this is why it is necessary to talk about sustainable fashion regularly. Sustainability is not only about how eco-friendly or how ethical are the different phases of production, but it is also about labour, wages, the supply chain, transparency and a lot more than that. The Fashion Movement "Who made my clothes?" was a wakeup call for all of us who consume blindly without understanding the harm being caused to the less fortunate. Cheap labour, child labour and unfair wages are the direct results of fast-fashion. This is why a lot of consumers are now turning to more ethical and sustainable brands. To understand some of the current challenges faced by sustainable fashion brands, we've decided to discuss the issue with Lekshailee Elliah, the founder of KALEA.

"Ethereal and sustainable"-this is what comes to one's mind when browsing through the launching collection of local Mauritian brand KALEA. Launched in August, the brand has already established its presence on social media and is on its way to conquer the hearts or, should I say, the wardrobes of slow fashion enthusiasts.

1. How would you describe KALEA to someone who has never heard of it before?

Kalea is a timeless and effortlessly chic clothing brand, which focuses on ethical and sustainable fashion. Each of our items is carefully handcrafted by local and international artisans, and we make sure that all of our products are ethically made. We are a slow-fashion brand meaning that we do not mass-produce. We produce only 10 to 15 pieces of each design. We value craftsmanship and aim to empower women via our brand and create more jobs on the market in the long run.

2.What was the impact of the pandemic on the launching of your brand?

One of the main challenges remains shipping issues. Since we have international producers, our shipments take very long to reach Mauritius due to the pandemic. However, the pandemic's positive side is that people are relying more on online shopping than physical shopping, thus creating more opportunities for online shops like ours.

3.A lot of sources show that the pandemic caused people to indulge in panic buying during the first phases of the lockdown but has gradually changed the way consumers buy. They tend to consume more consciously and think twice before purchasing an item. Do you believe that slow fashion is here to stay? Or is it just another trend like any other?

Slow fashion is not a trend but a culture. I strongly believe in slow fashion and find that people are becoming more conscious about their purchases. Sustainable lifestyle is spreading everywhere in the world; however, it is still new to Mauritians. Mauritians are very used to buying cheap clothing and mass-produced clothing. When they see more expensive sustainable items, they do not go crazy over it, and that's because they do not understand why they are more expensive. Yet, I am certain slow fashion will make its place into people's hearts, slowly but surely.

4.How can you convince consumers that less is more and better when it comes to fashion?

To inform people is crucial. People make their decisions based on what they know. "To buy or not to buy?" depends on how well-informed consumers are. This is why it is essential to create awareness. We try to create informative posts on Facebook and Instagram and inform people on why mass production is terrible for the environment? Is Linen biodegradable? Etc.

5.What are the factors that you keep in mind when creating a product?

Chic, simple and comfortable is our motto.

6.As a young sustainable brand, what are the biggest challenges you have encountered so far?

Making people understand what exactly is a sustainable brand and why it matters. Also, it is challenging when people do not understand why our items are more expensive than mass-produced items.

7.What is the main problem with the fashion market in Mauritius, according to you?

As I mentioned earlier, Mauritians overly used to buying cheap clothing. They are not aware that cheap is often equal to "bad for the environment" and usually "unethical working conditions". When people see an expensive item, they do not ask why it is costly; they do not buy it and look for a cheaper alternative.

8.What is the ideal way for you to get a respite from your computer screen and social media?

By spending time with my family and friends ☺

9.What do you enjoy most about being an entrepreneur?

Being an entrepreneur allows me to create jobs for people and influence people towards a better lifestyle through my brand.

Thank you for sharing your business insight with us!

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