Sarah set up Sew Love four years ago to teach sustainability through sewing lessons in a fun and social way. Since then she has crowdfunded for her trusty van, Cecil, and taken her sewing pop-ups across the country. One quick scroll through Sew Love’s Instagram feed is enough to get a whiff of Sarah’s bubbling enthusiasm for her “sewcial enterprise”. We chat to Sarah to find out more about the inspiration behind Sew Love.
Thanks to her mum, Sarah grew up with a sewing machine by her side. Sarah’s teenage years were spent sewing herself outfits of denim on denim on denim. As Sarah grew up, her hobby grew into something deeper; “in my adult life it was seeing the need for more creativity and resourcefulness to live more sustainably that instigated more sewing antics”.
And with that, Sew Love, “an eco-friendly, crafty sewial enterprise“, was born.
Sewing to save the world
Sarah is on a mission to reduce textile waste and bring communities together. As Sarah points out, we might diligently drink fair trade coffee and purchase organic vegetables, but what about our clothes? We consume these almost mindlessly, throwing away a ripped t-shirt because it only cost five bucks.
“In order to create a consumer cultural shift I choose to celebrate the fun, the savings, the empowerment of being a mindful consumer, a maker and a repairer through Sew Love pop ups and online antics.”
The catalyst to combating fast fashion
When Sarah touches on the subject of fast fashion, she immediately refers to “The True Cost”. A striking documentary highlighting the poverty and appalling conditions faced by factory workers producing our ‘cheap’ clothes, it is well worth a watch.
Sarah’s zest for creativity and low cost of sewing her own clothes has combined with her passion for different ways of life and the clean green world.
The result – Sew Love – weaves all these passions together beautifully. Sew Love “helps spread awareness about the global social and environmental impacts of fast fashion, and empowers more conscious communities doing the right thing.“
Perhaps one of the coolest pieces of patchwork that make up Sew Love is Cecil, the van that has taken Sew Love across the country. Cecil is decked out with solar panels (shout-out to Leigh at Thames Auto Electric!).
“It’s been a dream to not have to plug in anywhere – sewing a few metres from the surf from Ahipara to Invergiggle, and being able to park in the best positions at markets (away from the noisy generators)!”
Sarah and Cecil have travelled the country visiting op-shops, organising pop-up sewing sessions and weaving in days of sea excursions and sewing.
Let’s not just co-exist, let’s co-thrive!
Sarah advises aspiring entrepreneurial eco-warriors to consider “what/who inspires you? How can you support them and their mission? Where are there gaps in the market? Who are YOU and what could YOU do differently?”
“New Zealand is a relatively small market and it’s important to support the ecosystem as best we can, not copy and compete with other people’s ideas, be true to yourself and move with integrity to help us all together strive for a better future”.
Crowdfunding for Sew Love
Sew Love crowdfunded via PledgeMe in 2015 to raise funds for Cecil (the van) and its out-fit. Sew Love exceeded its target of $20,000, with a total of 203 pledgers.
Sarah saw this as a once-off opportunity, so it was important to get it right first time. “I would recommend being sure of what your mission is all about and clearly explaining why people should vote with their dollar to support it. Understand the mixture of people in your community to get creative with a full spectrum of [crowdfunding] rewards.”
Sarah advises to call on your business relationships to help you with your crowdfund process. “Write to other leaders and community groups with similar values, don’t forget your pleasantries, and ask them to spread the word for you – and don’t forget to support that sort of thing in return.”
Join Sarah, Cecil and the Sew Love community
Online you can find out more by checking out @sewlovenz on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter … if you love it and wanna lap it all up then also #votewithyourdollar over on etsy.com/shop/SarahSewLove
Written by CHIA blogger, Anna Watson