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August 05, 2020
Life has always been busy. A marriage, four kids under the age of five, a personal trainer, a sports masseur, a divorce, a martial arts business, two step-kids and a new husband...and then the kids got a bit older and I had a tiny bit more time in-between teaching people how to kick ass, to turn my attentions to other things like making sportswear that people look shit-hot in, whilst simultaneously doing my bit to save the planet.
It all started when my step-daughter came to stay a few Christmases ago and I could feel her eyes boring into me as I chucked away a tea bag. It got worse as I went to put an empty bottle of wine in the bin and she asked, with the inquiring, guilt-ladening tone of a twenty-something composting queen, why I didn't recycle. My defence about the recycling bins being at the same place as we teach Taekwon-do and it not looking good for the students to see their instructor shoving crates full of Shiraz bottles into the holes, just didn’t move her. This Gen Z eco-warrior was on a mission and I was on her radar.
Therefore, when I told her my plans to start a clothing line in sportswear, I shouldn’t have been at all surprised when her initial response of enthusiasm at the thought of road-testing freebies, was tainted by the thought of me clogging up the oceans and adding to landfill and it’s for this reason that I then spent every spare moment between dogs, teenagers and work, developing a sportswear brand that has a lot of eco-sass. Gen Z taught this old dog new tricks.
It was certainly Tasha's interest in finding an alternative to adding to the huge carbon footprint that the fashion industry is stamping into the earth, that set me off on my mission. As I spend most of my life with four teenage girls sneering at me for having eyebrows that aren't on fleek and listening to Radio 4, I was rather excited that my foray into sustainable sportswear was getting me a big thumbs-up from my step-daughter.
I knew that it wasn't going to be a mission impossible, as I'd had a pair of free Bamboo socks turn up through my letterbox a while back, in a direct marketing attempt to lure me as a consumer to the eco-side. They felt soft and looked good and I thought, 'there's a market out there and I want to be a part of it.' Tasha sent me a couple of articles on sustainable fabrics and I watched Stacy Dooley's 'Fashions Dirty Secrets', in which she exposes the extent to which the fashion industry is polluting the planet. It's almost as dirty as it gets, second only to oil. After watching that documentary, you feel dirtier getting dressed than you would undressing in a striptease joint. I put my jeans on the following morning with a disgusted look on my face, telling the dog that it took 10,000 litres of water to make them.
I started berating my other daughters for not re-wearing their prom dresses and for all the ASOS bags I was forever taking back to the Post Office for them. Fast fashion: so fast they don't even wear half of it and whilst they were telling me it was ridiculous to imagine them wearing the same dress twice, I was telling them it was ridiculous that they didn't seem to care.
Buying second hand is in my DNA, as I'd spent my teenage years trawling around charity shops. Now I have created a sportswear brand that embodies me: a brand with a bit of attitude and a newly-found conscience. A brand that empowers by the very fact that it recognises that we’re all on our very personal journey – just doing our bit to get fit - whether it’s a dog walk, a park run or Ironman - and at the same time doing our bit to help save the planet.
Innae is a brand that powers the positive in every way and can hopefully help to change people's minds about clothing and sustainability. Let's face it, if I can convince my teenage daughters that this is the way to go, then I must be winning!
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