THE STORY BEHIND THE BRAND
The inspiration for Daughters of Gaea was created by founder, Felicity, from her passion for human rights and a desire to create a business that not only protects but celebrates the environment. This interview tells Felicity’s story of creating the DoG, a luxury home decor brand.
WHAT LED YOU TO LAUNCH DAUGHTERS OF GAEA?
The idea for Daughters of Gaea came when I was furnishing a house a few years ago. I was loving the creativity that the project was giving me. When I was looking for pieces to buy for the space, I wanted them to be both ethically made and environmentally friendly. It was only then that I began to realise just how difficult it was to find items that uphold these values, so I started to think about how I could create my own brand, blending these ideas together. I discovered that I could most make an impact if I worked with female artisans in developing countries in an ethical way, creating high-end design, sustainable, homeware.
When I embarked on my business research, I found that “sustainable” and “ethical” are words frequently used by all sorts of companies, especially in fashion. However, when trying to uncover the validity of these claims, most brands claim allegiance to these words but put the bare minimum into action, just to satisfy a marketing need.
I think furnishing our homes with beautiful items is easy, but finding pieces that have nothing to hide is much harder. We may think that fighting for human rights and ethical practices is reserved for the fashion industry, yet the home décor sector is not exempt.
Q: WHAT VALUES DOES DAUGHTERS OF GAEA STAND FOR?
Daughters of Gaea wouldn’t exist without intentions to only buy and support products that are ethical and sustainable. These seemingly small efforts can become the core actions that consumers can take to help in the fights against climate change and the injustices faced by impoverished workers.
Transparent ethical values are unusual in high-end design, and I had scarcely seen it done properly in the luxury homeware space, so this business model inspired me. I thought that it would give the consumer relief knowing that they didn’t have to dig deep to find out about the origins of their products.
I set out to discover how I could find a way to help hand workers as the main objective that underpinned the brand. I consulted with the charity NEST, who briefed me that the majority of hand workers are women and that the best way out of poverty is through safe and fair employment. I felt that it was fundamental to have NEST, with their knowledge and experience, to oversee the ethical compliance of the artisan groups I worked with. I wanted to be sure that Daughters of Gaea was truly doing good.
The sustainability part came after. I realised that it was achievable to make every part of the brand sustainable in some way – it just came with a bit of perseverance. There are so many definitions of what sustainability means, and to navigate through this was tricky. I strived to look at all the parts in the production process and transparently choose the most sustainable options. That is why on the website you will see full disclosure of every element we use in the process from materials and dyes to the packaging.
Finally, working with artisans in developing countries meant that the products would need to be shipped over long distances, creating a higher carbon footprint.
So, Daughters of Gaea offsets our carbon footprint, with the aim in the future to do more and work harder for the environment to become a carbon negative brand.
Q: WHAT DOES HIGH-END HOMEWARE MEAN TO YOU?
We talk about slow fashion, but somehow this conversation doesn’t seem to apply to interiors as much. However, for me, the essence of high-end homeware is beautiful pieces that are often handmade, with a great deal of thought and planning in their creation.
I think that “slow” should equate to items that are made with the utmost care and love. Not a rushed process that cuts corners or items that are quickly spun through a factory machine. It’s therefore natural that slow homeware parallels with ethics and sustainability. Each piece takes time to make in small batch quantities, which helps to eliminate waste and pollution. A slower process means that more consideration can be put into making sure fabrics and dyes are sustainable, as well as choosing artisan groups with a positive social impact.
When pieces are carefully handmade, they should last for life. They are created to be a treasured part of your home. I love discovering new designs, but so much of what you see out there feels like the same recycled ideas, so something truly high-end should have the wow factor of it feeling like it is thoughtful and unique. Ultimately, individuality and originality are at the heart of everything we do. High-end homeware should be timeless, impeccably designed and made to last.
Q: WHERE DOES YOUR DESIGN INSPIRATION COME FROM?
Many of the designs in the collection are directly inspired by the natural world. In my free time, I love to be out in the wilderness, hiking in mountains, wild swimming, walking around gardens. On my adventures, one of the things I began to notice is that if you take a snapshot of the landscape at any one point, you get a beautiful and unusual colour palette with all sorts of clashing colours infused together to make a striking canvas.
This was the inspiration for my first collection. I wanted to create a sense of the chaos welded with the beauty that comes from the rich landscapes you see in nature, paying homage to the sky, sea, land, animals, plants and trees. For the India Collection, hopefully, what you will take away from the designs is a sense of untamed, lush, unadulterated wild landscapes.
As an ethical and sustainable brand, I believe that designs based on this philosophy tie in perfectly with the sustainable materials and low impact dyes we use, sourced directly from nature. This way, we can work in harmony with the land and its people.
My design inspirations for the business as a whole are based around the concept that the earth all gives us all we need, and it is our duty to respect and honour that.
Daughter of Gaea’s India Collection is available now through our website. To find out more about the artisans, the products and our values, browse our pages now.