Thanks for hopping over to my blog to read my final interview for my Wise Women in Wellness interview series!
Today I am interviewing my lovely cousin Emily Heinze 🙂
Me and Emily grew up together as best friends (and cousins lol) in our home town, and she recently relocated to Tasmania, Australia with her partner Nate! Emily has always been a health conscious gal and an amazing creative and artistic person, and she went to fashion design school to pursue her calling.
Following her big move to AUS, Emily started her awesome company Handmade by MLE. I really wanted to interview her so that we can learn a bit about eco friendly clothing design and about her awesome bizz!
I hope that you enjoy today’s interview and check out the awesome eco friendly baby clothes that Emily creates!
Let’s dive in!
Hi Emily! Thanks for taking part in my interview series.
Can you tell us about yourself?
Hi I’m Emily! I’m a born and raised Yukoner but currently living all the way down in Tasmania, Australia where I sew my clothing brand Handmade by MLE in my spare time.
Tell us about your bizz – how do you help people?
EH: I create baby and children’s clothing using primarily eco-friendly fabrics and natural materials. I supply stock to some local shops as well as take custom orders online. Most of what I make is for people buying gifts or parents that are environmentally conscious and wanting natural, non-toxic fabrics for their little ones.
What got you involved in the wellness world and in your current business?
EH:I’ve been somewhat interested in health and nutrition ever since I become a vegetarian when I was a teenager. Learning about living a plant-based lifestyle opened my eyes up to how our daily choices can impact our health and the environment. At first, I was focusing on the foods I was choosing to eat such as how were they grown and were the animals treated humanely etc. But I’ve now started asking the same about all of my purchases. Such as where was it made? Who made it? What is it made from? I’ve since realized that what we put on and around our body is just as important as what we put in it.
I love being creative, so when I first started sewing it was all about just making something. I didn’t really pay attention to the fabrics I was using or how much waste I was generating. I had no idea that the textile industry is highly unregulated and many fabrics contain toxic chemicals such as formaldehyde and VOCs. Even a fabric I considered safe and natural such as conventional cotton is typically sprayed heavily with pesticides such as Roundup. The manufacturing of synthetic fabrics, such as polyester and nylon uses a lot of energy, emits harmful gasses and the end result is a product that will take forever to decompose.
Now I am much more aware of the materials and fabrics I use and sew primarily with organic cotton. I also save most of my fabric scraps since luckily most of the patterns I use are so small that the little offcuts can fit to make a unique accent.
What part of your job do you enjoy most?
EH: I love helping people mix and match their fabric choices to create one-of-a-kind custom orders for them. Sometimes it takes a little longer to make a custom order, but it is always worth it since I absolutely love creating something different each time. Plus seeing the adorable finished product always makes me so happy!
Describe a typical day in your life!
EH: My days usually start with a nice hot cup of coffee. I know not the healthiest of ways to start the day, but I just cant pass up freshly brewed coffee. I also like to take my time in the morning. I am easily sidetracked so getting up a half hour early lets me ease into the day and allows me to catch up on any messages from friends and family back home. It can be a bit tough keeping in touch due to the crazy big time difference between Canada and Australia.
Currently, I squeeze in my sewing projects and orders after working my regular daytime job and on weekends. So some days can be a little full on, especially when trying to fit in cooking healthy meals and exercising. It’s a great day if I manage to get in a quick yoga session. The stretching is so good for me especially when I’ve been hunched over my sewing machine all day.
How do you take care of your health on crazy busy days? Eg. Do you have any stress busting practices?
EH: On days I know I will be busy I try to make sure I have my meals planned or start the day with a big smoothie full of fruits, veggies and healthy fats. Sometimes when I’m sewing I get in the zone and I might forget to eat and even miss a meal. I definitely get hangry! Now I always make sure to have a few extra granola bars packed away in my purse.
I always try to go for a walk on my lunch break as I find that is a huge help to clear my mind and help me focus when I get back to work. Even if it’s just 15 minutes getting fresh air and walking around the block, I am instantly feeling less stressed.
What tips could you share regarding natural living and learning more about natural fabrics and the clothes that we buy for ourselves and for our kids/babies?
EH: A great way to reduce your toxic fabric footprint is to always try to first borrow from a friend or shop second hand. By wearing clothes that are second hand or eco-friendly, you are reducing the amount of pesticides used on a daily basis as you are lowering the demand for clothing. If you must buy new clothing, look for natural fabrics that have GOTS or Oeko-Tex certification on the label: these organizations prohibit the use of certain carcinogenic and allergenic dyes in the fabrics they certify. Great natural fibres other than organic cotton include hemp, flax (linen), silk and wool.
I try to avoid clothing with labels such as antistatic, wrinkle-free, stain-resistant etc. as these fabrics are usually treated with toxins that can include carcinogens and hormone disruptors such as flame retardants, formaldehyde, heavy metals, phthalates and various other harmful chemicals. Our skin is our body’s largest organ and absorbs anything we put on it, which can include the chemicals in our clothes. That’s why it’s a good idea to always wash new clothes before wearing them for the first time. To prolong the life of my clothing I usually wash my clothing in cold water with gentle phosphate free detergent, and simply hang to dry.
When shopping from ethical and sustainable companies you may find you have to shell out more money initially, but at least when buying quality over quantity you are not adding more harmful pesticides to the earth or wearing harmful chemicals. If a t-shirt is only $5 you really have to ask yourself if it’s worth it. There are definitely corners being cut along the way that are not only costing the environment, but also subjecting underpaid workers to unregulated, unsafe working conditions.
The bottom line is do your best to try to avoid fast fashion and be mindful of your choices.
Do you have any awesome clothing brands that you would like to recommend?
EH: I love going to markets and supporting local makers. However, there are definitely some specific brands that I admire, such as Nooks Designs from Kelowna, BC. They make the cutest little baby booties out of up-cycled fabrics.
A couple fabric companies I absolutely adore are Birch Fabrics and Ink and Spindle. Birch Fabrics creates super soft certified Organic Cotton fabric with whimsical, unique prints. I use many of their knits for my creations.
Ink and Spindle is based in Australia and I am always crushing on the custom printed woven fabrics. Their eco-friendly fabrics have beautiful nature inspired images that are great for making things like zippered pouches, cushions and upholstery.
What is the biggest thing you’ve learned since starting your wellness bizz?
EH: The biggest thing I’ve learned is not to be scared. Being somewhat of a shy person I was a little wary of putting myself out there on social media and posting pictures of the things I’ve made. Friends and family have always been so supportive so it was a big relief to get positive feedback of my creations from strangers. Its crazy to think that I’ve even had some orders travel all the way over to London and New York. I love knowing that there are so many people that go out of their way to support eco-friendly, ethical, sustainable brands.
What is coming up next for you?
EH: Sewing has been a bit on hold for the past year as I have been building a house with my partner in Tasmania. However, I am soooo looking forward to having a permanent little sewing room set up! I have so many ideas and designs just waiting to get out in the world.
What is a random fun fact about you?
EH: I have a beautiful, goofy Doberman named Islay (pronounced ”eye-lah”) back home in Canada. Its tough to be so far away from her and I know she would love the warmer weather here, but I don’t think she would enjoy the crazy long flight to Australia! Luckily my mom loves her to bits and spoils her rotten.
Where can we learn more about you?
I hope that you enjoyed today’s awesome interview with Emily! I learned a lot about natural fabrics from this interview and I will try to choose my clothing more wisely moving forward.
If you enjoyed today’s blog please share it with someone who you think would enjoy it!
Chat with you soon!