Lace Dress and Kimono: Love Leigh*
I was recently sent these amazing pieces by the lovely Morgan who runs Love Leigh, a beautiful and ethical handmade clothing brand. She makes all the pieces herself, seriously how talented? I love the 60s style print of the kimono, and this pretty little crochet dress is the perfect new addition to my crochet collection, I'll be bringing this with me to Cyprus in a few weeks for sure. Luckily I shot these on Saturday, as I'm currently looking out of the studio to torrential rain again, sigh.
I found her whole ethos and the reasons behind her setting up the brand so inspiring, and these will definitely be two pieces I will treasure in my wardrobe forever. I thought I would ask her a few questions about her brand to give you readers a little more info on it, what an amazing lady.
1. What made you start your own hand made clothing company?
I had never really thought about being in fashion. Ya, I loved getting to express myself through style, but I never saw this coming. I was back home in Canada for my best friends wedding, bumming around for a couple months. My mum suggested I start sewing clothes (she taught me how to sew from a young age), and maybe try and sell them. The next day she dragged me to the fabric store, where we bought about 250 meters of fabric, and LOVEleigh Designs was born in sun-drenched studio on top of my parents garage. That was two and a half years ago and I haven't stopped sewing since.
2. Where do you get your inspiration to create your beautiful pieces?
Oh gosh, from all over really. Its funny really, how some of the pieces have come to be. I think a lot of my inspiration comes from my travels and the people I meet (as I type this I am on a plane headed to Indonesia- sunshine, waves, & fabric!). I love to make versatile pieces that can be worn numerous ways and can be super casual, or insanely beautiful all in one breath.
I am brushing up and learning the more technical side of sewing, which will play a huge part in newer pieces yet to come.
I'm originally from Canada, but am currently living in Byron Bay, Australia. For those of you who don't know the place, well.. lets just say its pretty magical. Buzzing with creatives, surfers and hippies galore. It's a pretty inspiring spot just to do what you wish, be who you are, and take from it what you will. Creativity flourishes in this neck of the woods, and its hard not to feel inspired when the ocean is right at your doorstep.
3. I love the ethos behind your brand, intertwining fashion and human rights, could you tell my readers more about this, and how important do you feel this is?
Yes, this is the most exciting part (for me at least!). I guess you could say my 'actual' career is working in Human Rights. I do contract work all over the world working with NGOs (Non Government Organizations), running grassroots programs in developing countries, focusing on education, water, sanitation, health & refugee rights.
During some time away I was racking my brain trying to figure out how I could make a difference not only through a creative outlet, but also engaging in the communities I was working and travelling in. While I was working in Malawi (Africa) I decided I would start buying textiles from the local women in the markets, get to know them and hear their stories. I think I bought about 60 pounds of fabric that trip!
Also during my time there I met an amazingly smart little boy named Often, who had just been accepted to a prestigious secondary school. In Malawi primary school is free, but there is tuition for secondary school. I realized I was in a place where I could help, so I decided that I would take profits from select sales of LOVEleigh Designs, and use the money to put him through school (and feed and house him for the year!). This is the second year I have been able to help him, I get updates and progress reports from his school. Often has told me his favorite subject is English and that he wants to be a teacher!
My last trip was driving through Southern California and the Baja (Mexico). I was able to stop in all these incredible little towns and buy fabric from the locals. That’s the thing about Mexico, it has so much going for it- the locals, the land, the patterns, the colors (and of course the tequila)! It is absolutely inspiring. I left a little piece of my heart in a small town in the Baja, and I plan to go back in September and see what I can do for the locals there.
4. You can tell the love that goes into each of your garment to make each one unique and special, how long does it take you, is there a story behind any of the fabrics?
Ha ha, depends what kind of a day you catch me on! The huge increase in orders has allowed me to really get into a really focused headspace and get things moving at a super productive rate.
A lot of my fabrics I source from overseas: Malawi, Zambia, Tanzania, Zanzibar, Mexico, Indonesia and on and on. I love to go to markets where ever I am, and meet the local people selling the fabrics. Their stories and (sometimes toothless) smiles seem to be stitched in to every piece I make. I would love to write along a little story with each piece, and where it has come from. The journey it has taken from start to finish and whose hands were a part of the process. I think in doing this, it no longer is just a piece of clothing. It is a story, a journey, an adventure- all hanging up, right there in your closet!
5. What does the future hold for LOVEleigh?
The next step for LOVEleigh Designs is moving to offshore production. At the moment, everything is hand made by me, but as things are getting busier by the second, I am moving forward. The plan in the near future is to move production to a very special little town I came across while in Mexico.
I would like to start a women's collective, where I would employ poor women, teach them how to sew and pay them fair wages. I also want to assist in ensuring these women and their families have access to affordable housing, and make sure all children are attending school. Providing the women with access to courses in family planning, small business management and nutritional classes is also on the to-do list. I'd love to be able to help these women get to a place in their lives where they can empower themselves and take care of their families. Simple as that.