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We are proud to launch our new series "CONSCIOUS FASHION HEROES Q&A" with Fair Trade fashion pioneer Safia Minney, founder and CEO of British Fair Trade fashion brand People Tree, whom I had the pleasure to meet briefly at the Ethical Fashion Show in Berlin this summer. In today's Q&A Safia is telling us about her work and what inspires it.

Who or what got you first interested in ethical fashion?

Fashion as it’s done today is completely unsustainable. I got mad about the exploitation of garment factory workers’ rights by large fashion companies in the early 1990s and that’s when I started People Tree. I'm just an 'ethical consumer' and have always been, even at 20! Back then there weren’t any ethical, Fair Trade or sustainable fashion companies, so I ended up starting one. I started People Tree in Japan in 1991 and next year People Tree is 25 years old!

Would you mind sharing an inspiring moment you had thanks to your work?

Seeing women supported by Fair Trade walk more confidently, rebuild their homes and send their children to college. Working with the 19 years old Emma Watson was inspiring too.

Who are your ethical fashion heroes and what do you admire them for?

Anita Roddick (The Body Shop), inspired me in my 20s. She was a pioneer too, brilliant and passionate retailer, didn’t talk business rubbish and gave great hugs! :)

What’s your message to those who are critical of ethical fashion?

Join us and be the change. Shop like the world and our future matters! Organic fibres and fabrics reduce the use of oil-based pesticides, water usage and the spread of GMO seeds. We need to consume more sustainably as well as produce more sustainably. We currently consume two and half planets worth of resources and with fast fashion being the second largest polluter after the oil industry – we need to redesign the fashion industry. Everyone should really see the True Cost, an eye opening documentary on the real cost of fashion - every time I see the movie, it makes me cry. The True Cost is now available on Netflix, iTunes and VHX.

And what advice would you give to those starting out with e.g. an own brand?

Get industry experience. Get commercial, but trust your instincts. Build strong relationships with your team and producers - love always wins.

Safia Minney, many thanks for this great interview.

Picture courtesy of People Tree.

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