When Smart Stuff began, over 20 years ago, it was me sewing art smocks for my kids and their classmates. In time I was making smocks for a number of schools in the area and was getting wonderful feedback about how great the smocks were and how kids loved wearing them. It appeared that my little sewing hobby had become a small business.
This was all good news but I could no longer keep up with demand and I was faced with the reality of having to outsource my manufacturing. This posed a very real dilemma for me as I had heard stories of outworkers being exploited and poorly treated in this industry and not only overseas.
I have always been a proud supporter of Australian made products and so it was an easy decision for me that my smocks would be Made in Australia. The next step was to make sure that the people involved were treated correctly. If someone was going to be making my smocks, I had to be sure that they were being paid correctly and were working in safe conditions. This was not as easy as you might think because if I wasn't going to be making the smocks, I wanted to know who was.
I did find a manufacturer I was happy with and made that giant leap. It has not always been easy and I have had to find new makers over time, as the local industry has undergone enormous change, but all those things that mattered in the beginning still matter now.
When I heard about Ethical Clothing Australia (ECA), I immediately knew that accreditation with them was a way of showing my customers what was important to me. I could also help spread awareness that it was indeed possible to produce and buy locally, ethically made products. In some ways, Smart Stuff does not fit the mould of other brands accredited with ECA - we are not a fashion label and we are relatively small. Our products might be just kids art smocks but that's not the point. The point is that everyone involved in Smart Stuff is treated fairly.
Smart Stuff was first accredited with ECA in 2013 and is currently accredited until August 2018.
ECA has launched a new campaign that spotlights accredited brands. Smart Stuff is incredibly proud to be included in this campaign as we place great value on the skills and labour of our local makers. You can find more info on this campaign at ethicalclothingaustralia.org.au/support-local-industry where you will find Smart Stuff under the list of Emerging Brands.