Fashion with purpose - Kelli Donovan of Pure Pod
Pure Pod founder, designer and producer Kelli Donovan, has lead the way in sustainable fashion for over a decade. With a passion for promoting ethical standards from harvest to store, Kelli shows that the fashion industry is about much more than glossy magazines and glamorous runway shows. We sat down with Kelli to chat about her passion for the environment, drive to educate others and the Pure Pod business itself.
Tell us about your passion for sustainability? What drives it?
For me it is a love of the environment, that is a massive thing for me. I have been in the fashion industry for almost 27 years now, but I have been making clothes since I was 6 years old. So, I suppose it was about joining the two together and getting to know what goes on behind the scenes.
Fashion is not just the glamorous shows and glossy magazines, it’s important to know where the fibres come from, how they are grown and the people that it effects along the way.
From the growing of the seed all the way through to selling the product at the end, there are a lot of hands that touch the product. Sustainability in the industry is about making sure that everyone along that chain is safe and isn’t handling or affected by harmful chemicals and various other things that are happening in the clothing industry.
Tell me about Pure Pod and how you got it started?
My partner and I moved from Melbourne up to Byron Bay where I decided to take a break from the fashion industry and do a yoga and Pilates teacher/training course. In 2006, after immersing myself into the world of Pilates, I decided that it was time to create some sort of ethical brand; I wasn’t exactly sure what I wanted to do, I just knew that I wanted to produce something that I was passionate about.
Sustainability in the fashion industry wasn’t talked about as much then, so it was very new and I was one of the only people in Australia doing it at the time – it was great to start the conversation.
I spent the last of my savings on some fabric that sounded like you could eat it and put together some pieces for our first ethical trade show in Melbourne where we received our first wholesale order and we started stocking stores with Pure Pod pieces in 2007.
What's your vision for Pure Pod?
In the future, I see Pure Pod becoming more about the education and teaching designers and the public about sustainability in the industry and to think a bit more about their buying habits; ultimately changing the way they look and think about products and clothing.
We are also organising a Pure Pod and Design Canberra Fashion Revolution event on 11 November 2017 in a beautifully sustainable warehouse in Canberra. For the event, we are bringing a number of ethical designers we know along to sell their wares and get the Canberra public involved. There will also be a panel discussion where we can talk about the cause.
You've lived in Canberra for a long time, why do you think it's a great place for your business to grow?
I grew up in Canberra, moved to Melbourne to work in the fashion industry and then lived in Byron Bay for a long time; each one of these places have influenced me and everything I have done, from learning about fashion to learning about sustainability and organic products.
In Canberra, we have direct contact with resources such as ANU textiles, the CIT fashion school here and government institutions that support the sustainability cause.
We have also had a lot of support and sponsorship that wouldn’t have been available in other regional areas to increase our reputation in the industry.
Photo credit: Tracy Lee Photography