Meet Cassandra, founder at Chic Made Consciously, an accessory and fashion line completely designed, hand-crafted and produced in Ubud, Bali from inner tire tubes! She’s been making waves here in Toronto, stocking shelves at local boutiques and beauty bars, and has been a huge hit at markets and shows such as The Fairtrade Show. Since launching the company over a year ago, Chic Made Consciously has continued to grow and inspire shoppers to think fair trade, and make ethical shopping choices, and her story is what truly captures her buyers.
Below is a Q&A with Cassandra Ciarallo, founder of Chic Made Consciously.
Tell us your story of how you came across sourcing your innovative and unique products!
Funny story, it all sort of worked itself out in perfect timing! I was travelling through South East Asia for 3 months and in the last city of my backpacking adventure (in Ubud, Bali), I met a Balinese man, Dana, crafting the most intricate and fashionable pieces from repurposed materials. I was speechless that the material used was tire inner tubes, and that I had never seen anything that could look so beautiful made from tires.
Dana invited me to spend the day working with him, so I used my time to learn, craft and express my creative side. I learnt of the unfortunate surplus of tire waste on the island and all over the world.
Locals on the island of Bali dump their old tires everywhere as there is no proper garbage management procedures. I could see his passion for helping our planet and contributing to the sustainable movement, and I felt drawn to take part in it as well! As of early 2015, Chic Made Consciously was born and we have partnered with Dana, Pat and Blanka who are the 3 main artisans responsible for the craftsmanship of our entire collection. Our mission at Chic Made Consciously is to work with these artisans and promote fair trade. We hope to inspire consumers to consider ethically made products and the story behind the label.
What were you doing before launching Chic Made Consciously?
Before launching Chic Made Consciously, I spent one year teaching ESL English in Seoul, Korea. This experience pushed me to step out of my comfort zone, which encouraged my brave attitude to import this new product line to Toronto. I always knew I wanted to start a business on my own and throughout my time abroad in Korea, I was able to explore my interests and found that full time teaching wasn’t my passion. I eagerly wanted to express my entrepreneurial spirit so, I spent the year in Korea continually brainstorming business ideas. It seemed that everything fell together perfectly, right before coming back home!
How do you find your brand and ethical mission influences your shoppers buying trends?
Chic Made Consciously represents conscious fashion. I see that consumers are inspired to consider people and the planet once they realize and are aware of the impacts of the fashion industry. Unfortunately, majority of workers across the globe live off $2 per day, which isn’t enough to even cover their basic needs of food, shelter, water and medicine. They work in factories that are unsafe and are sometimes even abused in order to meet production demands of our Western World. I notice that consumers do care about workers getting fair wages. Often they just aren’t aware of the realities facing this industry, which hinder their ability to make informed purchasing decisions. We believe that our continual education on revealing the truths of the industry will bring higher consciousness to these negative impacts and shed light for more positive and meaningful consumer decisions.
Walk us through the process of making your products from inner tire tubes and how you go about designing your items.
The process of handcrafting with the tire inner tubes was shown to me when I was in Bali in 2014. The truck tire tubes are what the artisans use primarily: first they cut the tubes, wash them and let them dry in the sun. Then they are washed again and coated with a coconut oil based cleanser (to keep it eco-friendly!). This process is completed over 4-5 days. After this, the designs are drawn (depending on the size of design) on the tube before being hand cut or stencil cut. Each of our pieces are crafted by hand which is pretty hard to believe, since they look like they are laser cut!
As of January 2016, I have started designing part of what we launched for Summer 2016. Designing began from pen to paper with lots of drawings on what we’d like to incorporate for our summer pieces. Our choker collection and yoga collection were designed by me and my goal is to design our entire collections in future years!
Do you plan on reaching the U.S. market in the near future?
Definitely! We currently do ship to the U.S, but are working diligently to build our market there. We are creating more and more content to attract U.S shoppers. We want to encourage more sustainable shopping and continue to inspire and educate consumers on how we can be eco-chic!
Check out Chic Made Consciously’s blog and read their free + easy tips on how you can be fashionable and sustainable:
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I am a social entrepreneur. That means I use business as a catalyst for social goodness. I am deeply passionate about sustainable travel, zero waste living, ethical fashion and social good. I currently run North India's first zero waste guesthouse, Hara House, and am the Content Director at Causeartist.