Slow Fashion with Katie Oberton of West Ash Designs
I have been a maker and a creator for as long as I can remember. I made greeting cards, jewelry, scrapbooks, and I also started a gift wrapping business, but my only clients were my mom and dad.
Then I took a more conventional route and went to school for social work, which I'm still very passionate about. However, it is not a creative field, and I found myself starving for a creative outlet for years.
I dabbled here and there in things, but nothing stuck. Then I saw a weaving at a local artisan made shop, and I was hooked. I am mostly self taught, thanks to the internet, and have started teaching others through workshops. It has been such an amazing creative outlet for me! I love the ability to create beautiful, texture-filled pieces that bring joy to peoples' spaces. I also love the versatility of weaving. You can make tapestries, cloth, rugs, pillows, and so much more!
I have become very passionate about the slow fashion movement, and when I realized that I could make woven accessories and bags I knew that's where I wanted my business to go. I like to think of it as Slow Accessories.
Slow Fashion is a movement where you focus your purchases on:
- good quality
- better environments in which the clothes are made
- fair wages for the people making the clothing.
It is incontrast to fast fashion, which are companies that churn out clothes at speedy rates, don't pay a fair living wage to workers, have workers working in unsafe environments, and focus on quantity over quality.
Slow fashion really gained speed in 2013 when the clothing factory Rana Plaza in Bangladesh collapsed, and people started questioning what other working conditions the clothes on our backs were coming from.
Most slow fashion companies make clothes on a 'made-to-order basis' which reduces waste (in contrast, some fast fashion companies are known for burning their extra clothes when they don't sell).
For me slow fashion is about knowing who made my clothes, and where they are coming from. I want to support small businesses, who make good quality products and care about their consumers. These are all values that I work hard to uphold in my own business.
I am currently working on making handwoven bags in a variety of sizes, coin purses, zippered bags, and fold-over clutches using the most natural materials I am able to. I believe that what we use should be able to be re-purposed or composted back into the earth. I care about Earth, and I want my business to reflect that. I want people who buy my products to love them for a long time. I want them to be used a lot, and I don't want them to be disposable. We live in a materialistic world, where we are told "more is better", and I want to work toward "quality over quantity".
My goals are to keep expanding my functional weaving pieces into more bags, eventually scarves, and someday woven fabric that I could turn into clothing. I also want to keep making wall hangings because I think there is something beautiful about having a unique piece of art in ones home.
I have met so many wonderful people through my business. Collaborating and networking has opened my doors to workshops, markets, and such a great support system in the maker community!
Katie will be teaching a Weaving Workshop at Anahata Collaborative on Saturday, September 8th! You will be able to create your own mini-wall hanging to take home, and she will also have weaving supplies available for purchase should you want to do more at home as your new creative outlet. You can choose to attend just Katie's workshop, or you can stay the full day and also learn about vegan cookies and plant based dyes with Cori Robinson of The Cookie Creative.
Katie also created a FREE RESOURCE on 5 Ways To Maintain your Wellbeing as an Artist/Creative. Click the image below to take you to our Free Resource Library to download Katie's ebook and more!