Fashion changing lives

Fashion changing lives

Free fashion forum at Palmerston North City Library on 5 April 2019 celebrating ethical fashion.

Manuwatu-based fashionistas are in for a treat with free event Fashion Changing Lives: Ethical Manufacturing in Hard to Reach Places happening at Palmerston North City Library on Friday 5 April, 2019.

The event has been pulled together by ethical and sustainable fashion designer Jodie Woods of Tonic & Cloth (pictured above) in association with Palmerston North City Library.

"Our speakers come from the grass roots of manufacturing, women who have experienced first-hand the difficulties of achieving ethical manufacturing, not just in hard to reach places, but in wounded and marginalised communities," says Woods.

Meet the speakers:

Ana Wilkinson-Gee, Holi Boli, Odisha, India.

Ana Wilkinson-Gee, Holi Boli, Odisha, India 

Ana trained in pattern making and design at The Design and Arts College of New Zealand in the 1990's although her love of sewing started years earlier in a powerless rain forest with a peddle machine. She couldn't have asked for better training in that rain forest. The training centre and workroom Holi Boli that she now runs in Bhalupali, India is also often without power and peddle machines are status quo.

After settling in Bhalupali with her hubby and three kids Ana used her skills, passion, experience and big heart to meet a need for local women, who so often do not have a separate identity from that of their husbands and fathers. Being trained in a marketable skill, and even better, being employed using that skill is a game changer for Ana's local women. They wear their 'employed' status with pride. They have a say in how their money is used in family finances. Gradually they develop a sense that they are valued, that it matters what happens to them, they discover a voice they didn't know they were allowed to have.

Ana tells stories of peppy female ingenuity muscle-ling bravely against need. She talks of hardships and victories. She speaks of growth and change – the bigness and slowness of it in a country often bound together by tricky paper trails, a mail system that only sometimes works, and a pedantic power grid with a mind of its own. 

This is not textbook ethics and sustainability – this is the real deal – a grass-roots grind complete with tearful struggles and of course heart soaring triumphs. 

Ana has so far trained 170 to sew and employed 14 to create international standard garments sold in New Zealand and around the world. 

Kay Tiddy, The Loyal Workshop, Kolkata, India.

Kay Tiddy, The Loyal Workshop, Kolkata, India

The Loyal Workshop is situated right in the middle of Kolkata’s red light district – they stand in between women and the sex trade. Providing training, skills, and safe employment in a family friendly environment. Their bags, wallets and belts are utterly stunning and made from eco-tanned leather. Yes, great for people and planet.

Kay joined the Loyal Workshop in 2014, when it was six months old. Having crossed paths with the founders Sarah & Paul Beisly two years earlier, she had known immediately that she had chanced upon a very special initiative. The Beisly’s vision of creating a business that was explicitly geared to provide a pathway for women to gain freedom from the sex trade, as well as creating a high quality product that stood on its own two feet in the market was one that resonated with Kay. When she joined Loyal it was as the communications manager, though this role evolved in exciting and unanticipated ways over time. Now New Zealand-based but maintaining connection and regular returns to the community, Kay spent 18 months living in Kolkata and becoming part of the Loyal Workshop family. She witnessed the slow but immense power of community and restoration in the context of Kolkata’s red light areas, and how business done right can provide a nurturing context for this. 

Rebecca Parnham, co founder Krama & Co.

Rebecca Parnham, co founder Krama & Co.

Rebecca Parnham has made empowering women her business. After taking a trip to Cambodia in 2009 and seeing the usefulness of the humble krama (handwoven scarf) she could see that she could do something to make a real and meaningful difference for women. The idea is simple to use this multipurpose product to celebrate the resilience and ingenuity of Cambodians while also creating an income for the women who weave the krama. From this idea, she has started Krama & Co., a social enterprise that is dedicated to supporting education for girls and opportunities for women. Rebecca has seen when you empower a woman you empower her child, family and community. She draws of her qualifications and experience as a social worker to inform her business decisions and believes that those skills have been invaluable to ensuring she is working in a way that makes a meaningful difference. This journey has led Rebecca to a passion  for ethical fashion and sustainability. She is the chair of the New Brighton Stitch-O-Mat Trust, on the board of a newly formed charity called Navigate Your Way and an administrator of a growing Facebook group called Second Hand Christchurch, which promotes and supports second hand shopping as a more sustainable way of shopping.


Event Details: Friday 5th 5.30 – 7pm, at Palmerston North City Library (George Street Entrance). Entry is free. RSVP [email protected]

Speakers will share for about 20 minutes each – followed at the end by a question and answer session. And tea and coffee.


Tonic & Cloth Store and Studio

Tonic & Cloth has also recently opened a bricks and mortar store in George Street, Palmerston North. The store doubles as a studio, so designer Jodie Woods gets to co-create with her customers. 

"Opening the store/studio has essentially made Tonic & Cloth even more collaborative – so that designing becomes a beautiful process I get to share with my customers," says Woods.

The Tonic & Cloth Collection includes a new organic denim range. Tonic & Cloth also represents Loyal Workshop bags wallets and belts, and Krama & Co. scarves.

Tonic & Cloth's new store in George St, Palmerston North

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