WHEN ALI MET STYLIST
Posted on 28 November 2016
It’s a design company with an anti-sweatshop ethos. It’s all about making fun, playful prints – cushions, scarves, womenswear – in a way that’s ethically sustainable. We’re not exploiting anyone. There are no children working on it. We’re trying to do as much as we can in the UK and we source as many sustainable products as possible. We use wool to stuff our cushions that comes from Orkney sheep that eat seaweed! They’re the most sustainable sheep in Britain, apparently. We also believe in inclusivity and sharing. We’ll share our supplier details with anyone who wants to know. If a university student wants to know, we’ll tell them. If another brand wants to know, we’ll tell them, because we believe in moving that ethical community forward. Some people view that as sharing trade secrets, but that’s not the secret. The secret is the creativity. That’s the bit that’s important. We also believe in helping women, which is why we use older models, street-cast models and models.
How did this all come about?
I used to be a filmmaker, working in animation. I found it wasn’t for me and I wanted to move into design. After doing a few commercial jobs about six years ago I made enough money to buy ‘proper fashion’. I’d go to places like Browns or Selfridges and I’d want to know the story behind a scarf or something – I’ve always been obsessed with scarves – but it was hard to find out much back then. It was hard to discover if it was ethically-made, so that became my gap in the market. I started making them myself, using small cottage industries. I wanted to be closer to whatever I was wearing.
What’s your average day like?
I’ve got two kids so my average day is quite mental! Once both my elder daughter, who’s seven, and my baby are fed, I like to have a coffee and write myself a couple of goals for the day. I know that sounds super-cheesy but my life is so busy that I have to do that to focus my mind. I’m realistic – I give myself two things to achieve in the day. Then I’ll do something creative – sketching or writing – before I check my emails, because I want that to come first, before other people’s agenda. What other people want can usually wait. The rest of the day will be organising production, or speaking to suppliers, or designing. It can be quite complicated, because I’m trying to source everything sustainably and minimise air miles, but it’s totally worth it. I always make sure to break for lunch and try to stop to take a walk by the sea, which I’m lucky to be able to do living in Brighton.
What do you do on the days you get to yourself?
I love to go for a hot stone massage, do some Pilates or get a gel polish manicure. Pilates, massage, nails – that’s the absolute perfect day.
What do you do if you’re stuck for inspiration?
I think I’d jump on the train and go to London. I like to go to the Tate, Tate Modern or British Museum. I could spend hours looking at the old sculptures in the V&A. Even if it doesn’t have relevance to a project I’m working on it always sparks something in my mind. I think everyone should be encouraged to go to the V&A, it’s amazing.
What else are you passionate about?
I’m really passionate about helping other women both here in the UK and in America. Although it may not always seem that way, we have so much power and freedom to do things – starting brands and creating products. I’m really passionate about a charity I’m supporting called Womankind Worldwide. It’s about empowering women globally, in places that maybe don’t have the freedoms we have. I’ve been working with stockists, like Maison 10 in New York, to give 10% of our profits to Womankind Worldwide. And I’ve just done something similar with Meringue Girls, a super-cool punk duo who make amazing meringues. Even if I do facepainting at my daughter’s school, 10% goes to Womankind Worldwide. I think it’s so important that women who have freedoms, that we are absolutely entitled to, channel some of that power and ability to get things done elsewhere. The money’s being used for things like helping women escape female genital mutilation. If we can support that, I think that’s great.
What one creative thing would you like to do that you haven’t had a chance
to do yet?
I’d really love to work on a whole interior. I do cushions but a whole interior would be amazing. Wallpapers, rugs, carpets – everything. Fantastic. I think I’d find it more interesting if it was a public space, like a museum space or a hotel or a members club, something lots of people use. That would be perfect for me.
Lastly, what’s your verdict on the Sally Hansen Miracle Gel?
My manicure needs to be durable because I work with my hands all the time. Miracle Gel is ideal because having a busy life means I don’t always have time to visit a salon. Colour is so important to me, and having a broad range of nail colours means I can change it whenever I like.
Ali tested out the new Sally Hansen miracle gel nail polish to see if it could stand up to a busy day shooting with Stylist. It did!
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