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Janelle Rawlins

Noosa, SEQ
Retail Trade

A business on the move, The Travelling Kimono strives to ethically create quality hand-made garments which are timeless and unique. Nikki and Janelle are creating a sustainable fashion label that empowers Vietnamese women by investing in their skills to successfully support themselves.

Hi, I'm Janelle Rawlins from The Travelling Kimono and we’re based in Noosa, Queensland.

I describe our business as a fashion label that helps support and empower women in Vietnam with a sustainable income. We’ve done a lot of research into fast fashion and the impacts that it has on not only the people but the planet. Ethical choices were always going to be, I guess play a major role in our ethos. When we first started the business that was the backbone of it, that we needed to be ethical and try and be sustainable as much as possible, although it's quite expensive to head down that road.

Family and friends have been the biggest support system. They’ve never doubted once what I'm doing or why I'm doing it, they’ve just been there and supported me. My dad owned a business in South Australia, so I started working there with him at a young age. My dad’s also very business minded so not what I’d call smart, but business minded. I reckon I'm the same. I feel like a lot of it is just common sense and being willing to learn and let people help you along the way.

Creating an ethical fashion label was the foundation of The Travelling Kimono. The label’s creators, Nicki Edmiston and Janelle Rawlins, did not want to contribute to the fast fashion problem they knew existed in Vietnam. Instead, their main priority was to support and empower a small group of Vietnamese women by providing them with the skills and knowledge to derive a sustainable income and support themselves, their families and their community.

Knowing how and where your clothes are made are other fundamental components of The Travelling Kimono ethos. Decidedly anti-mass production, they source all their own fabric and only 30 of each design is hand cut and sewn by their dressmakers in Vietnam.

The company’s growth has demonstrated a strong market for unique, handmade, quality garments. As many retailers shut up shop and move to online selling only, The Travelling Kimono has bucked the trend and moved the other way. Initially only an online retailer, The Travelling Kimono recently opened its flagship store in Noosa Heads.

The business is also moving towards sourcing organic fabric and the ultimate goal is to only use organic material in the future. The company has also adopted a zero waste policy with fabric offcuts used to make one-off children's dresses.

The Travelling Kimono is a case study of an ethical, successful and sustainable Queensland fashion label. Working long hours to develop and grow their business, Nikki and Janelle are striving to create more opportunities for women.

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