A woman has launched her own fashion label aimed at women in their thirties who care about creating a better world, and for every item sold she will make a donation to charity.
The Rana Plaza disaster in India in 2013 - which killed over 1,000 garment factory workers - shocked the fashion industry and its consumers.
Principles such as ensuring people are paid fair wages, communities are treated well and our environment is protected, are now coming to the forefront of consumers’ minds.
Sarah Jerath, from Manchester, was not content to wait for the big brands to get it right.
She was so appalled by the situation it inspired her to leave her previous profession of teaching to launch her own label with sustainable principles, ‘Two for Joy’.
The brand’s collections feature basic T-shirts, statement jumpsuits and bold floral printed skirts, all at affordable prices (between £17 -£70).
Jerath, who founded her brand last year, discussed her leap into the unknown, her brand ethics and what the future holds for fashion, with HuffPost UK.
Where did the name ‘Two for Joy’ come for?
I have two sons. Also, being eternally superstitious, every time I would discuss this project I saw two magpies, making me think it was a good idea.
You left your previous profession in teaching to start your company, what pushed you to take such a risk?
I really loved my job, but after having two children, I felt that it wasn’t working for us and our lives anymore.
I felt I was getting ground down by the excessive amounts of paperwork involved and luckily, with the unconditional support of my husband, I was able to make a change.
The high street in Britain is amazing but, when shopping, I felt that the options were either fast fashion, which doesn’t appeal to me, or very expensive items which I couldn’t justify spending the money on.
I came up with the idea of creating a brand of “forever essentials”, whereby each item would be a good quality, hardworking item of your wardrobe, but also well priced without excessive mark-ups.
I also wanted to ensure our clothes are made in reputable factories where staff are treated properly for the work they do and all local laws are adhered to, inspiring our fair pricing policy, which we detail on the website.
In a world where clothing is a huge pollutant and responsible for 350,000 tonnes of UK landfill, I think it’s important that we start to make more informed buying choices.
When did you launch your company, and what’s your vision for it over the next two years?
‘Two for Joy’ was launched in 2016. Over the next two years, we aim to consolidate our ideas and collections whilst staying true to our ethos of providing great quality, lasting garments at affordable prices and building a following of people who care about where their clothes come from.
We are also looking to build on and develop new relationships with suppliers who work towards a more ethical and sustainable fashion future.
Why is your brand aimed at women over the age of 30?
I am over 30. I wanted to develop something where I could imagine my customer and what might be important to them.
Although I see our target demographic as women over 30, I do think our pieces appeal to a wider variety of people, purely because they are wardrobe basics.
You give 15% of every online sale to charity - why is this important to you?
I believe that unfortunately, the world is not a very fair society and although we can’t all make big differences, we can try to make differences in small ways towards the greater good.
A successful business obviously offers great opportunities for those directly involved, but I wanted to share the opportunities and try to help others make a difference in their lives too. So we discovered Mayamiko, which we felt was the perfect charity to partner with as it’s a charity based in the UK, which works in Africa to support local communities by training and funding start-up businesses to help alleviate poverty.
When deciding to start ‘Two for Joy’, I wanted to run a business in a more socially conscious way, which is reflected by our ethical ethos.
Are you able to trace your entire garment process and production from start to finish?
We know the suppliers who develop our goods well. We visit them at least once a year, and see the garments being made. We know where our garments are made and can track that part of the journey.
In the future, we would like to be able to detail even more about our supply chain, including yarns/fabrics etc. that go into the product, but being a fledgling business it is difficult to ascertain every single aspect of the supply chain. That is definitely a priority for us, going forwards.
What makes a garment an ‘investment’?
An investment item is something you will love forever, which you will wear again and again, and get your use out of. Our multiway dresses and jumpsuits are great investment pieces, as you can wear them in a multitude of ways and they’ll never go out of fashion.
Why are you so passionate about sustainable fashion?
I want to know my clothes have been made in a factory where workers are treated fairly. The Rana Plaza disaster really made me stop and think about where some brands’ clothes were being made and the true cost of fast fashion.
We are working each season to increase the percentage of our clothing made from natural fibres, as minimising the cost to environment of clothing going into landfill, is also something I think we need to reduce as an industry.
As an ethical fashion business owner, I want to be more aware of the cost to humanity and the environment, and work to minimise any negative impact (and maximise the positive – spread the love).
Are there other fashion retailers who inspire you with their sustainable and eco-friendly outlook?
Yes, ‘People Tree’.
Can you tell us a bit about any future projects you’re working on?
We’re currently producing a charity t-shirt where 50% of sale price will go to The Christie NHS Foundation in Manchester, which recently suffered major fire damage.
Having lost my mum to breast cancer at 18, and my dad and other people close to me having suffered from cancer, The Christie Foundation and the work it does is incredibly important to me, and so many others.
You can shop the latest collection online now.