Milieu is an ethical accessories brand that value people, culture and design.
Based in the sunny Hawkes Bay, their mission:
“To create a sustainable avenue for quality artisan products to reach the global fashion marketplace.”
For their first range, with partnerships in Guatemala they have developed a brand that not only has beautiful products, but also promotes and encourages crafts from different indigenous cultures all over the world.
We caught up with their founder Meredith to hear more about Milieu and why we should be mindful when it comes to our fashion choices…
Tell us a bit about yourself and your background
“I am a twenty something creative and recently relocated to Hawkes Bay from Auckland so me and my husband could each start our own businesses. I have a degree in Textile Design from Massey in Wellington. My first job as a textile designer was working in homewares. My designs you would have seen over the years at large NZ retailers like Farmers, Briscoes and The Warehouse. I then had a short time working for a fashion textile wholesaler so was designing textiles for Australasian fashion labels and designers. I’ve worked as a textile design for almost 8 years now and thankfully really love the career path I chose all those years ago.”
What is Milieu Store? How did it start and what made you passionate about creating this business?
“Milieu is my passion project, since studying design and working as a textile designer I had always dreamt of starting my own brand. I had been trying to come up with what it would be for a year or 2 knowing that I wanted to do something that wasn’t just for my benefit. With my previous work experience I wanted to steer clear of sourcing anything from China that was mass produced. Personally I am trying to be more mindful of my purchasing and how my choices impact our environment. Second to oil, the clothing and textile industry is the largest polluter in the world.”
“What sparked the idea for Milieu was a video I watched online about the Mayan tribes people and their beautiful traditionally woven textiles. Without going into lots of detail their craft is being appropriated by large companies without any credit going back to the people who invented these techniques and patterns. I saw an opportunity to work with these artisans to create beautiful accessories and provide them with regular work which would in turn impact their communities and families in Guatemala.”
Why is it important we a mindful about our fashion choices?
“As I mentioned earlier the statistics around textile waste and even the impact the production of the textiles have are pretty alarming. The textile industry is one of the top 3 water wasting industry in China, discharging over 2.5 billion tons of waste water every year. The Chinese government have recently put more regulation around environmental protection in factories however many companies will simply move production to Vietnam and Bangladesh where no such regulations are in place.”
“For me personally I am trying to be mindful of new purchases and choose quality that will last and won’t need to be replaced in the short term where possible. Who makes our clothes/accessories I think is becoming more and more important and talked about which is amazing. This is a key philosophy of Milieu as a brand. We know exactly who made our products and that they are receiving fair wages for their work. We are providing jobs which otherwise would not be which I am really proud of.”
What are your goals with Milieu Store and what do you want to achieve?
“I have big future plans to expand Milieu by working with other tribes and groups of people from Indonesia and Africa. There is a massive opportunity to work with other third world countries to leave a lasting impact on communities of people. Since launching I have had people who working with other amazing organisasion approach me so just about the right timing.”
“For our product offering I want to cement the overall aesthetic and function of the brand with a focus on quality goods made with woven textiles. It would be amazing to be stocked in some like minded stores so that’s the next step for me at the moment.”
Final words of advice for others looking so shop mindfully?
“I think all you can do is be mindful of choices, realistically we can’t all afford to buy NZ made pieces for all of our wardrobe. Also be aware that not all NZ brands are equal, many of their tags will say ‘Designed in New Zealand’ but ‘Made in China’. Shopping second hand is also a great way to shop mindfully and selling your own items online once you want to rid of them on places like Designer Wardrobe to give them a second life. I always say we can’t all be perfect in this area but we can all try to do a few small things which reduce our environmental footprints.”
Thank-you so much to Meredith for your time!
For more information on Milieu Store visit:
Photography Supplied By Milieu Store