Mane Project - Arc & Bow & Bare Bones
Okay, so imagine having two individual kick ass ethical street/fashion brands that rival only each other in their products and the way in which they are made. Then imagine finding out that they’re both part of a multi-branded, environmentally and socially friendly company that prides itself on transparency. Did anyone else just hear the angels sing? Mane (Made At No Expense) Project is a New Zealand based company (founded in EME’s founders’ hometown, may we add), and is the home of brands Arc & Bow and Bare Bones. Read on to know more. Trust us, you’ll want to.
Arc & Bow creates high-quality basics that are ethically made and 100% organic. This is a company that believes they hold a responsibility to both the customers who buy their pieces and the people who make them, and aims to raise awareness of the unfair working conditions and exploitation that’s rife within the fashion industry. Liz Turner, the founder of Arc & Bow and Bare Bones, said of Arc & Bow that she wanted to “provide women with a piece they can adore, can afford, and know that they can thrash.” With shirts that are printed with powerful statements, she also reminds her female customers of their intelligence, value, and potential, regardless of societal stigmas that are too often at play.
Even though Arc & Bow is designed in New Zealand they work with artisans in Jaipur, India. Their clothing is made under fair trade principles, which includes minimising the environmental footprint of garment production, and supporting artisans, decentralised production, heritage crafts, traditions, and cultural diversity. The adherence to these rules also ensures long-term income security for the artisans, which ultimately supports long-term family sustainability and helps make the overall supply chain more sustainable. The factory Arc & Bow works with also continually adds more female-designed roles within their company, playing a pivotal role in the development of female employment. Fair trade principles and opportunities for women? EME says a big fat yes.
Now onto the counterpart, Bare Bones. Bare Bones was designed to reflect its name; the overall aim of each piece is to provide the skeletal framework of your wardrobe. With simplistic, enduring styles, Bare Bones is the place to go if you’re on the hunt for basic pieces that crossover any season. For a brand that does not skimp on quality, their clothing is totally affordable, especially when you take into consideration that they are made to last and will therefore be hanging in your closet for a long, long time. This is a brand that is EME tested—we were lucky enough to have been sent the Grey Bare Bones Jumper and the Black Split Dress and we’d happily buy them with our own hard-earned dollars.
All of the pieces within the Bare Bones collections are strictly GOTS certified organic, and are manufactured under fair trade conditions. Like Arc & Bow, Bare Bones firmly believes that in order to truly provide quality products the people behind them must be valued just as much, which is why they choose to only work with Fair Trade Federation Member manufacturers. They also specify on their website the importance of traditional practices within their processes—the ancient art of hand-weaving in India is integrated into the fabric-making for the Bare Bones garments, and this provides opportunities to the people who are trying to keep this method alive.
We love sharing the stories of companies like Mane Project with you. These incredible, innovative, conscious businesses and the ways in which they are redefining the fast-fashion industry is one of the reasons we have EME. Also, guess what; we even have a code for you! Use EME&MANE at the checkout for 15% off Mane Project’s ethically made goodies.
Behind the Brand:
An interview with Lizzie Turner, the founder of Bare Bones and Arc & Bow.
What made you start both Bare Bones and Arc & Bow?
Both Arc & Bow and Bare Bones were birthed out of a boutique brand I used to have (Riddle Me This). I had learned a lot from working in the boutique market and had realised that working in the street/boutique combined market with accessible price points was much more suited to what I was trying to achieve.
Arc & Bow was born first with the concept that the designs are simple with interesting prints and fabrications as the focus.
Bare Bones then flowed from that as essentially a useful but stylish basic brand to feed the minimalists out there.
Both brands were originally manufactured in China, then after our factory wouldn’t let us visit anymore, we knew we didn’t want to relive that and needed to find factories that we could trust and the were certified with fair trade accreditations. This then led us to learn the extreme benefits of working with organic fabrications over non-organic and the major impacts it has on people and our environment. So it has been the BIGGEST learning experience, which we are SO excited about.
What is something others wouldn't know about clothing and manufacturing that you think they should?
The volume of offcuts that are generally wasted and thrown away into landfill is insane. When you’re working with synthetic fibres, it’s detrimental to our environment as it basically never breaks down. Organic cotton does eventually break down but we are currently working on some really cool ways to use our offcuts to make other items so keep an eye because there are some cool things brewing!
What has been the most challenging thing you have uncovered since the beginning?
So many things it’s hard to name just one! But I think trusting a factory and the people you are working with and then suddenly they block you out of the manufacturing process – that was really concerning for us as we couldn’t be sure what was going on or what had gone on unbeknown to us. Thankfully in India there are some amazing communities that truly care about the environment and people and the transparency goes beyond. Also working with factories that are regularly audited and monitored for their fair trade practices is really important too.
Within the ethical fashion community, there's a big question that we asl which is 'Who made my clothes?'. In the scope of M.A.N.E apparel, who made your clothing? Can you tell us a bit about them?
At the moment, we are working with three different factories.
We have a manufacturer in Jaipur, founded and directed by a female (Shari) who has a Doctorate in Philanthropy. She’s passionate about the people she employs and also influencing culture within her community. They make most of Arc & Bow for us as they work with an amazing community of printers to create our interesting prints.
Our other manufacturer in Thindal in Tamil Nadu (southern part of India) is an incredible bunch of people whose main focus is fabric weaving and keep the tradition of it alive along with giving it a new boost of energy to get the younger generation involved. Fabric weaving is such an amazing and deeply historical part of India’s textile history—it’s really important and powerful to us that we can employ people over machines and keep a special part of tradition alive. They wove and manufactured all of our hand-woven denim items for us from Mellow Indigo and Arc & Bow. They also have manufactured new season Bare Bones for us.
Lastly, our manufacturer in Tirupur, manufactures and weaves knit fabrics only. So they do the bulk of Bare Bones for us. Their team are so well looked after and we love these guys to bits.
Best piece of advice you have ever received?
“Picture yourself putting your problems/fears/frustrations into a paper bag and handing it over to God or the universe (whatever you believe).”
I’ve found this so helpful and releasing for so many different situations with life and business. Sometimes things are just out of our control and we have to let go otherwise we carry the weight of something that’s unbefitting! It’s so easy to crowd your life with things you can’t control.
One tip you'd give to others who are wanting to start their own business?
Start with a mentor or a team of mentors! It’s so important to have others around who have gone before you and can feed wisdom into what you’re doing.
Where do you envision Arc & Bow and Bare Bones in the future?
I have dreams to expand the company further and I believe Arc & Bow and Bare Bones will become Australasia’s go-to for ethical-wares. We want to eventually expand into almost everything you can think of, eventually manufactured by some of our own factories that provide training, childcare, and other family services to support family and communities in India. We want to continue to provide better opportunities for those that need it in India. The vision is BIG!
What or who inspires you to do what you do on a daily basis?
Definitely having a “why?” for what I’m doing drives me - something that’s bigger than myself and extends beyond my family and I.
Do you have a morning routine? If so, what is it you do to set yourself up for the day ahead?
I suppose I do but I’ve never really thought about it like that! I wake up to my son, have a cuddle in bed with him, my husband gets cups of tea and we have some family time before the day starts. Then we have breakfast, all at random times, not together, then all get ready for our day!
One book everyone should read? Why?
I wish I had something really arty and interesting to put here but I really don’t! I do however have lots of books I want to read, one of them being The Responsible Company by Yvon Chouinard.
Are there any other Movers & Shakers out there in your world that you think people should know about?
Yes! Karen Durbin from Companion and Co. Her and her husband are working with refugees in NZ to create amazing items that use the skills from their homeland. It’s such a beautiful expression of blending cultures and merging together as humans whilst still celebrating our unique cultures.