Hey there my lovelies,
Welcome back to my Blog!
Got a question for you my loves – have you heard of Alaria yet? Then I highly recommend to go check them and well also get comfortable and settle into this interview with founder, Rebecca Pisani. Alaria is a community of ethically sourced products founded to a give a voice to artisan communities from across the world.
In order to give a better insight as to who and what Alaria is I got in touch with Rebecca and I felt that the best way to know more is by asking some relative questions. So let’s get a quick Q&A rolling 🙂
1. How did the Alaria Community begin? Tell us a little bit more about your story.
Alaria has always been a business dream of mine, that I never knew existed. Ever since I could remember I have wanted to make a career out of giving back in some way, that would give me a sense of pride and purpose. I slowly started changing my shopping habits when buying clothing, as I started educating myself on the horrors of fast fashion. By a chance discovery, I came across some handmade camera straps that were lovingly made by artisans. This sparked an idea – what if I created a platform where I could connect brands that work with artisans together on a global scale? Consequently, I researched different brands, made connections with them, and in turn, connected my community to the wonderful world of artisanal handmade goods.
2. What’s the meaning behind the name “Alaria”?
The name is extremely important to me. My father’s name is Alfred and my mother’s name is Maria. Both of my parents instilled the values that I live by, and I wouldn’t be the person I am today without them. I always thought that if I ever ran my own business, I would carry out my father’s incredible business skills alongside my mother’s loving nature. Therefore, I cut their names in half and combined them.
3. Something unique about Alaria is the studied design of the pieces being sold. Can you tell us more how these were chosen to fall under your community?
I am constantly learning throughout this process, but one thing I try to look for is transparency between the brands and artisans. I really want to make sure the artisans are working in fair conditions, so our community feels good wearing them. I love the idea of wearing a piece in my home town that was made by artisans using traditional weaving or fabrics from all around the globe. This idea of connection is important to me and is one of Alaria’s main goals as a brand.
4. Where there challenges you’ve had to overcome while starting this new business concept?
As mentioned before, I’m constantly learning so therefore, I’m constantly making mistakes! I think the biggest challenge is making sure the product being showed online lives up to its aesthetics and quality, so ordering samples is extremely important. Basing decisions on internet images can be quite challenging. Another challenge is making sure there is full transparency between the artisan community and the brand working with them.
5. I noticed that you give importance to collaborations, as seen through your partnerships with the female artisans you work with from around the world! What are your other values as a company/community?
I created a list of philosophies as seen on our website, alariacommunity.com. It is a list of fundamental values I hold for myself and the brand. I think one of the most important ones is ‘progress not perfection’. Like I said, I am constantly learning, not striving to get it right straight away, so the journey of growth is a wonderful one. What Alaria boils down to really, is offering opportunities to marginalized communities around the world – to give their families and themselves a better life whilst working fairly, under good conditions away from harm and in turn connecting to consumers around the world.
6. Can you tell us about your artisans and how they benefit from working with Alaria?
Most artisans work with brands from their own communities who provide them with fair wages, regulated hours and a safe work space. Alaria is an online platform to promote their handmade products and provide worldwide exposure of the fairly trading movement. We work with brands from Peru, Cambodia, Guatemala, India and I love the diversity they each represent.
7. Many Diva Inside followers are looking into finding new ways to give back and live a more conscious life. What would you suggest to them?
Try ask where the clothes you’re wearing came from. What conditions where they working under? Try to look after your clothing and make repairs on damaged items rather than throwing them away. We live in a fast-paced world, we all need to relax and learn to appreciate the things we already have.
Model : Rebecca Montanaro – Photo credit : Nicky Scicluna
8. If you could give one piece of advice to purpose-driven women entrepreneurs who are just starting out, what would it be?
If you have a dream just go for it, there are many people out there willing to mentor you if you need it. I understand it is extremely difficult to leave your comfort zone to pursue something different, but once you do the feeling of starting something from scratch is so uplifting and if you’re helping people in the process then you have nothing to worry about. Like I said mistakes are going to be made, it’s all a learning process and that is essentially the beauty of growth.
9. What is your ultimate goals for Alaria? Are there any exciting plans in the near future?
I’m excited to see Alaria grow as organically as possible, I have a few plans in my mind and some exciting things might be in the process of development, so stay tuned!
Model in Picture on the left is Leah Camenzuli and
on the right Leah Camenzuli & Melissa Gatt
Photos credit : Becky Kamsky
10. Many people think that responsible production comes at a cost (they’re not wrong?). How do you balance that and set both the expectation amongst your customers and the brands you carry?
Yes, that is right handmade products do tend to be more expensive, but I believe in quality over quantity. Things are made at a fast pace because of demand, the more demand there is the more production is needed and the more production needed the worse the conditions, at times, are found. I believe in good quality, lovingly-made products. I also believe in connections, and knowing I have a timeless piece handmade by artisans from across the world adds sentimental value to the garment which gives value to the people that made it.
11. As a multi-label community, what are the challenges AND benefits that come from working with artisanal brands?
The benefits are knowing you’re helping in one way or another, bringing traditional clothing to my own community and appreciating the craft certain artisan communities hold. There are a few challenges though, like for instance never being 100% sure on the quality until receiving samples, always trying to make certain there is full transparency between artisan and brand and also finding brands that fit the Alaria philosophies. As mentioned above, it is all a working process and a growing experience.
To me, artisan-made products mean that a brand is working hard and directly with its makers to provide meaningful and sustainable work, preserving heritage, craft and traditions that would otherwise become obsolete, and compensating its workers fairly.
But the deeper I get in ethical fashion and get to know people who are facing different situations head on, the more my perspective shifts. Yes, sustainability is critical, but the small small-scale change that doesn’t seem as “sexy” is just as important. It revitalizes communities, supports women in business and, best of all, its effects are direct and more immediate.
Until next time,