Today we get to talk to two amazing people, who are doing such amazing things. They kinda are what we as a company want to be.
First off, we love your enthusiasm and your ethical ethos. Can you tell us who you are, your background and what the current place is about?
Our Names are Damien Nikora and Chanelle Taylor were a model/photographer couple based in Aotearoa New Zealand.
Damien had been working as a fashion photographer for over 22 years when he first watched the documentary the true cost. A documentary that highlights the truth behind the fashion industry. he felt part of the responsibility of creating campaigns that helped brands reach and even exceed their sales targets. So he went through his client list and found none were working in a sustainable way and decided to drop them all.
That’s when he met me ( Chanelle ) he also showed me the documentary and I felt exactly the same, responsible for being the face of these brands and decided to drop all my work to support sustainable choices.
That’s how we came up with the idea to travel in the search for good people and designers making a difference to our earth through their business and products.
We came up with the idea to create our own sustainable fashion marketplace to help educate and make it easy for consumers to switch and support slow, ethical, sustainable business’s.
We called it The Current Marketplace.
Our initial goal when we set out was people focused, we did not want a person not to be treated fairly just because they were in a different part of the world making a garment, what was your initial approach?
After watching the documentary the true cost we were both left feeling quite angry, sad, responsible and felt we had to do something about it. So that’s when we decided to start off by find good people to tell stories of. We first flew to the Philippines where we stayed with a couple that owns a sustainable surf label, sustainable resort and sustainable manufacturing factory. After staying with them for a month we knew this was what we wanted to do. Be surrounded by good people making a difference to earth and business, support them and help share their goodness to educate others that there is better options out there.
There are many hidden things that affect a worker's environment, for example the use of dyes in the water that cannot be returned easily to the watercourse, what was the biggest surprise you discovered?
The biggest surprise for us was hearing the difference between conventional and sustainable cotton. The effects it has on the earth and people is astounding.
We found that conventional cotton first off is sprayed with nasty chemicals which harms the generations of farmers leading them to cancers and other horrible conditions. It uses 91% more water than organic cotton and due to this it uses water from inland rivers and steams one of them being the Aral Sea in Kazakhstan which was the 4th largest inland sea in the world, now it is a dried up toxic wasteland desert.
And then there’s the workers rights and child labour involved as well. Something we thought was a good crop turned out to be one of the dirtiest crops to grow.
I must agree The fact the 4th largest inland sea once rich in biodiversity and a thriving sustainable industry and resource for the people of Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan was annihilated 30 years blows my mind. All for handful of people to increase their wealth. Entire villages miss out feel they have no choice but to work the cotton fields of toxins.
There are lots of issues regarding fashion and the environment but if you could name one of the biggest problems, what would it be and how could we resolve it?
for me one of the biggest problems would be when people think they don’t have a responsibility or a part to play in the fashion industry. A common slogan I hear a lot is
“well it’s not going to make a difference anyway” And People decide to turn off from knowing the truth behind it to keep their “cheap” yet costly luxuries.
But in fact each and every person can have a huge impact by being open to educating and deciding where to put their money.
And we’ve been seeing this a lot with bigger brands such as H&M + Zara now making sustainable greenwashing adverts because consumers are now supporting brands that care for our people and planet over profit.
Consumers appetite for spoon feed rubbish products is never ending all to try an impress people. This psychology and behaviour hurts when you begin to see it all around you. It’s madness to me now. Solution? I know at the core of the majority of humans we want what’s best for each other and our planet. One way to encourage and help people remember who they are is by telling stories of truly amazing humans and business who care. Giving newer better choices for people to consume where they feel 100% more satisfied and grateful for what they have.
There is often a dichotomy in selling clothes and most products. We want to sell to run a business but one of the first principles of eco shopping is do I need this? How can we justify selling more stuff?
We totally agree we do need to buy less, but I think buy less of the products that do cause harm. The beauty of supporting sustainable brands is you’re supporting their workers, small villages, families, small designers and the bonus to it all is the clothing are made from organic materials that biodegrade back into our soil.
There’s a huge difference between buying a polyester t shirt that takes around 200 years to decompose then to an organic cotton shirt that takes 5 months.
So yes still ask yourself do you need this but also add the question of where does it come from? And where will it end up?
Is what you are selling going to benefit your mind your body your soul. Is it going to benefit a skilled worker and their family. Is your product going merge back into our very patient Mother Nature with very little effect, Is your product going to turn a “consumer” into a loyal supporter or even a friend. If so then I think create create create.
Your posts and videos are great at explaining issues, for example that it has to be more expensive to create ethical clothing. How hard is it to educate people without deterring them by being too preachy?
Definitely hard not to come off preachy especially because we’re passionate about what we’re talking about. That’s why we love telling stories of good people that we ourselves find inspiring, if they can inspire us to make different choices we hope that they can also inspire others to do the same or at least start thinking about it.
Know your mission and preach. Be authentic and honest. It only comes off preachy if their ears don’t really care. It’s harmony to those who believe in what you do and why you do it. For those who are starting to opening their ears, eyes and heart’s, it’s guidance and reassurance. Fuck the hates, their destructive.
In the UK environmental issues tend to be attached to people's political beliefs. The environment is seen as a left wing issue, but we need everyone to be onboard. Is it the same in New Zealand and if so how do you convince them or depoliticise the issue?
All politics everywhere sway depending on where the money and or influence weighs the most. Collectively it’s working already. Thousands of small changes make for huge influence and a redirection to the flow of flow of money. change is happening all over the would because of interviews like this. We do need to do better and quickly but we can also be proud of our involvement in the shift.
We like to be positive. What is the most encouraging thing you see in the future?
What has been the most encouraging thing for us is seeing the comments and conversations we get back from our videos we create and seeing how it impacted their life and choices for themselves and family. And it’s just inspiring to know we’ve helped change one mindset and they may help change another.
I thrive off positivity. It’s my food. Each time we met some one or a business doing amazing things small or large I’m feed for days and motivated to have and share more. Everyone like you guys are a bright light of encouragement for the future of our earth and those who call her home.
Thank you for including us into your life’s and your mission for good.
We would like to say a huge thanks to Chanelle and Damien for giving up their time to answer these questions. They are super passionate and kind so check them out @thecurrentplace .